‘The Meat in the Sandwich’ – Baby Boomer Style

Life never ceases to amaze me.

For weeks now, my daughter has been back at school. The summer holidays alas, are but a dim memory and life has returned to a banal sense of normalcy. Routine, chores, peace at last….NOT!

Where does it come from? One thing after another. Always when you’re FINALLY back on track? The year is already flying by and this is my first real blog post since the Happy New Year epistle. Why, why, why?

A ‘Eureka’ moment this morning prompted me to reconsider what I’m doing wrong and I discovered that I am suffering the effects of ‘Meat in the Sandwich Syndrome’. To clarify, “I am the meat in the sandwich” has always been one of my mothers favourite sayings. I grew up in a tri-generational family situation, with Nanna (Mum’s Mum) living with us, Dad primarily away for work and my brother and I, like any brother and sister fighting and arguing with each other constantly. Life ticked along nicely until Dad came home for a day or two. The juxtaposition of Dad and Nan altered the family and Mum was thrown into the role of referee/diplomat, crying, “I’m always the meat in the sandwich”.

Fast forward 30 years…

Whilst Nanna has not been with us for some time and Mum and Dad live alone, there is still an occasional ‘meat in the sandwich’ moment in our extended family circle. Particularly when Dad and I spend any time together. However…..recently I have come to the conclusion that the mantle of playing the ‘meat in the sandwich’ has been passed to me. And I don’t like it!

How many Boomers out there can relate to this scenario?

I have an only child. A beautiful, bright but naturally hogging the limelight teenager on the brink of womanhood. I have a long suffering, incredibly stubborn, but gradually withdrawing husband, who these days tends to read in preference to arguing. And of course, a Mum and Dad, who are doing fine, but gradually aging not so contentedly. There is also an eerily present but not, brother, sister in law and kids as an aside, who occasionally make an appearance.

The characters have been introduced. Let’s set the scene. This is my life….

I don’t work. I only have one child. What do I do with all my spare time you ask? I am busy most days of the week, taxi driving, cooking and generally keeping my small nuclear family ticking along. My husband works nights, sleeps most days and I have approximately 7 free hours when my daughter is off my hands. Enter stage right – Mum. Loves me to come and visit her Tuesdays as this is usually the only day Dad is busy until late afternoon. That’s fine, but hubby has every Tuesday off.

OK, so Saturday might be better. Not really. Dad is sometimes out, but daughter has softball fixtures at the local club all morning. And of course, Mum has lunch at 12.00pm and then her sister phones and they talk for a couple of hours from 12.30. This activity also occurs on Tuesdays making it double the problem. Fine. What about Fridays?

Not a bad idea Fridays, but usually both Mum and Dad are home together, so Mum can’t get a word in and hubby has every second Friday off. But wait -daughter is exhausted and has softball practice after school til late as well. A busy day. Let’s try Monday. No, no, no – you know that’s not going to work. Mum and Dad go shopping and then out to lunch. Daughter practices softball with a friend after school. Hubby gleefully out of it from working all weekend.

Thursday? Mum and Dad do a top up shop….and neighbours may pop over…softball practice in afternoon…..

So the upshot of all this spare time is that I never know what I am doing, am constantly negotiating and re-negotiating times and activities and don’t have a clue what will happen next. Daughter’s ill, Mum’s computer isn’t working, hubby has to go to the hospital, Dad is annoyed, the pay didn’t go into the bank. No problem. Just call me one stale and exhausted ‘meat in the sandwich’ with too much time on her hands.

I’m just going to sneak off and celebrate completing a blog post with a coffee…what, no milk? And there’s the phone. I may post again by September!



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