As far as the sandwich generation, I'm dealing with a "triple decker".
I wish I could take credit in creating this term but someone already beat me to it - for reasons a little different than mine.
One of the first times I came across this term was in an article written by Kristen Mauk for Senior Care Central in Colorado discussing the challenges that middle aged people face in caring for aging parents, children and grandchildren.
Many of us are familiar with the term "sandwich generation". It was originally coined in 1981 by Dorothy Miller, a social worker who remarked on "women in their 30s to 40s who were sandwiched between young children and aging parents as their primary caregiver" (source: Huffington Post).
Back when I was in my 40s, none of my peers were caring for aging parents. We were still in the midst of running after our kids, managing our careers and home life, while most of our parents were travelling and sometimes even still working.
A few of us already had children in middle high school while most of us were still hosting playdates with middle schoolers.
Now that I'm in my 50s (having just entered this last December), it's more prevalent for me to see friends worrying about their aging parents and continuing to manage their pre-adult children.
My daughter is continuing her university studies in another city, my son is in his last year of high school about to apply to post-secondary, both my parents are divorced and managing critical health issues in separate cities, while my husband is in treatment for glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.
I don't know anyone else in my personal circles who is facing this same challenge.
Being a rarity is not what I want to be but I'm finding ways to manage it.
Open communication is first and foremost. For my own sanity as well as to let others know that it's okay to talk about it.
Friends don't always know what to say or do around me. Letting them know how I am feeling or doing on a particular day provides them cues for visits or talks on the phone.
I discovered an excellent paper written by Stanford Medical on spouses with cancer. It advises caregivers on ways to get help, talk about their feelings and ways to reach out.
I'm learning that by telling people how I'm doing on any particular day, I let that bit of anxiety out.
As far as my parents, I am managing my dad from a distance but thankfully with the help of his nearby friend. And my mom who is a fiercely independent woman who riddled with different health conditions from hearing loss to heart disease and Parkinson's is using me as a guide more than a director. She can still drive and do all of her tasks very well.
The kids will still need me for things like cooking, school advice and grocery shopping but I'm also learning to delegate more to them. Building their resilience to the demands of life is necessary.
By having these systems in place, I should be able to take nibbles out of this massive sandwich instead of trying to finish it in a few big bites.
Janet Fanaki lives in Toronto and is the creator of RESILIENT PEOPLE, a website that profiles EXTRAordinary people who inspire others with their resilience. The site came out of Janet's own story. In 2016, her husband was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Her message is that even in the face of tragedy, the human spirit can thrive. www.resilientpeople.ca