Children & Parents by Sharon O’Donnell

I haven’t posted the last two weeks because I’ve found myself caught once again in that sandwich generation: my father fell three weeks ago and broke his shoulder, and my siblings and I have been taking turns caring for him. Between my weekday job as a Teacher Assistant in the fourth grade, parenting my 7th grader, and spending time helping my father, there is very little ‘down’ time. My 7th grader is in year-round school which will not end until the end of June. We’ve been involved in science projects, poetry projects, and God help us — surface area and volume formulas — for the past few weeks. Then there are band concerts, baseball games/practices, and Scouts. I have to say at the end of the day of going through metric system conversion word problems with fourth graders, it’s tough to come home to see what my son’s schedule holds for the night.

My father is 89, and there is no surgery for his shoulder fracture — it just has to take the time to heal on its own. In the meantime, however, he has been in pain and very uncomfortable. He is positive about it all, but it is difficult to sleep in a bed when your right arm is immobile, and you have to pick it up with your other hand to move it even slightly — an that itself is fraught with pain. My dad fell because he had gotten dizzy on his way to the bathroom, and my mother had called 911 because she couldn’t get him out of the floor. Because of this dizziness and the shoulder pain, my siblings and I have been staying with our parents at night because he will inevitably have to get up to go to the bathroom, and it’s too dangerous for him to do so by himself. But these nights are spent with him getting him into bed, then about two hours later, moving him to his recliner in the living room because he can’t get comfortable, and the getting him up from the chair several times to go to the bathroom. Suffice it to say, that nobody sleeps a lot.

So right now I am running on fumes. I stayed last Thursday and Friday nights, but I haven’t stayed during this past week since my brother and 2 sisters are so wonderful about staying. I’m the only one of the four who has a regular full-time job, and I feel guilty that I can’t stay with Daddy more. I will be going over tonight, and in all honesty, I enjoy the time I spend with my parents. But it is tiring. My father is improving, though, slowly but surely, and I am so thankful for that. He’s always been a very independent person, and I can see in his eyes how much he hates not being able to get around by himself. Hopefully, that will be short-lived.

First though — my youngest son’s baseball game at 5 and tomorrow a tour of the old house where my middle son — a college junior — will be living in the fall with five of his friends. Hmmmm . . . not sure what to expect. There is always something new when you’re living in the sandwich generation.

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