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  • Silvia Farag

Adulting in the Sandwich Generation



I lost my Dad about a year and half ago and it seems like lots of my friends are losing parents.  We often talk about how sad this current stage of life is. These days, I seem to meet up with my childhood friends at wakes and funerals.

 

When my husband and I got married in our 20s, we entered the wedding season of life. We had a party every weekend.


In our 30s, those same friends got pregnant, and the celebrations continued as we entered the baby season of life.


Now, in our 40s, the overarching theme is funerals. Everyone our age is either losing parents or taking care of ailing parents. This isn’t a joyful, party-filled season. There is no playbook to go by as the roles reverse and the generation ahead of us starts to depend on us – and slowly slip away. And it’s been very difficult for me to accept this switching of roles.


My mom recently moved to a beautiful Active Adult community. No stairs in her new home and the community takes care of all the “house stuff” my father used to take care of so she could take care of us.

 

What nobody tells us when our kids are young is how there comes a day when we realize WE are the adults. How we will have to remember who we were before we were everything to everyone else.

 

We are the grown-ups making hard calls.

We are the leaders called to be wise and strong.

We are the ones getting stretched too thin as multiple generations depend on us and the demands for our time and energy amplify and multiply.


It seems ironic that when we need our parents most – while raising teenagers and watching them leave the nest – they face challenges that take them away from us. They can’t support us like they did when our kids were babies because they’re dealing with health scares, memory loss, doctor appointments, chronic pain, and other issues.

 

To complicate matters, our 40s are when Big League Stress kicks in. Realities like death, divorce, cancer, health issues, financial strain, and tragedies emerge. Many families fall apart due to serious challenges like infidelity or addiction, or problems that seemed minor in our 20’s – a kink in a marriage, a small problem that went ignored – have had time to escalate and implode. Even if you don’t face a crisis, it seems like you’ll walk through a crisis with someone you care about.

 

Our 40s are also the time when our babies grow up. They become teenagers who pull away to create an identity and life of their own. I love teens, but parenting teens is STRESSFUL. The most stressful thing I have ever done in my life and I have had a very stressful career. There is constant mental juggling and unprecedented levels of fear, worry, and self-doubt and a ton of tears. But there is overwhelming love for them as you watch them step into their potential of being the young men and women God created them to be.

 

My 40s have been good to me, and I wouldn’t trade the wisdom of age for anything, (except the unexplained joint pain, you can have that back) but this decade has required a whole new level of faith, resilience, and trust in God. Letting go is the theme, and while I’m thrilled for my High School Student, I’m also aware of the void his absence will leave if he goes out of state. Our home and family won’t be the same, and just the other day, as I sat in my car listening to one of his favorite songs, I cried as this truth sank in. He is the muscle one that refuses to smile in any picture but has a heart of gold. I promise he is not in a gang.

 

I saw a study and laughed  over the revelation that most people reach their misery peak around age 47According to research, the “happiness curve” follows a U-shaped trajectory. It hits a low at midlife – and goes uphill from there.

 

The study didn’t explain why people in 132 countries had greater experiences of happiness in youth and old age, but I have my theories. I believe it’s because our mid-life years are rife with transitions, loss, and overwhelming responsibilities.

 

We’re launching kids and burying parents. We’re working harder to pay for college or support our children’s dreams. We’re up against Big League Stress yet strapped for time to take care of ourselves. We’re mourning what used to be – or what we hoped would be. We’re learning to fight for our joy.

 

Here we are, called to be the Adults, yet many of us don’t feel ready. For years, I struggled to articulate what I felt God was guiding me toward.


Then one day, in His mercy, God opened my eyes as I read The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. Feelings that eluded me suddenly made sense as Nouwen explained how the goal of the spiritual life is to become the compassionate Father.

 

As we mature and grow up, we move past being the prodigal son and the jealous brother to become the merciful Father who stretches out his hand in blessing and receives his children with compassion regardless of how they feel or think about him. 

 

Let’s be honest, some days my kids make me think I have no idea what I am doing and that I am so cringe that I should just stay indoors at all costs. The same kids that depend on me for food, shelter, clothing, rides, life saving intuition, fighting spiritual warfare for them and every other thing under the sun.

 

To me, this encapsulates the shift of our 40s. All the changes set in motion lead to a spiritual transition, one that makes us rise to the occasion and ultimately model God’s selfless, transformative love.


I’ve grown a lot during my 40s, and I have a lot of growing left to do. I’m thankful for my friends who understand the peaks and valleys of this season. I realized how my parents had spent their entire lives preparing for this day: the day I have to stand on my own two feet. They taught me how to handle life without them and how to do it faithfully because of them, and now it’s my turn to do the same with my kids. No one told me how hard it is to let go.

 

Our parents can teach us everything except how to stop missing them. I don’t think we ever stop craving the love and strength of those who raised and shaped us. 

 

While our mid years are not an overwhelmingly joyful season as we let go of what used to be, this can also be a meaningful time of deep growth, renewed purpose, and intimacy with God. Even in death and sorrow, He is a God of life and new beginnings. He refreshes us and gives us hope, promising eternal life through Christ and equipping us to meet new challenges as we rise to new positions – and new callings – within the circle of life.



Silvia Farag, MSW, LSW, PsyD Candidate runs the Christian Center for Counseling and works with adolescent and adult clients in individual, couples & family therapy. Her personal philosophy is that through human connection, we can foster the encouragement needed to take courageous steps toward creating positive change. She uses evidenced based and strengths-based approaches & believes in the inherent ability of everyone to overcome when they are willing to step into their potential. Therapy illuminates the path so the client can make conscious steps towards emotional health. Her attitude is one of respect and acceptance of each client’s individuality, allowing for the creation of a safe, therapeutic space. Silvia serves with Coptic Women Fellowship, an archdiocese ministry focused on enriching, supporting, and strengthening the lives of women, along with the clergy and several accomplished women of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. 

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Invitado
01 jun

Beautifully articulated to encompass everything I have been feeling. God bless you.

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Invitado
01 jun

It’s very helpful thanks for sharing

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