I know; it’s not Tuesday. But it’s an emotional day that deserves a comment.
My Facebook status today: “After nearly three weeks with Kim and the kiddos including the trip to California to help them settle into their new home I’m back sitting in my office, briefly Elijah’s room, Pack-n-Play neatly folded by the door … it’s heartbreakingly quiet in here … so I go to Kim and Cadence’s room … just emptiness … heartache redefined …”
When you’re in the sandwich things can get a little emotional, yes, for guys too. A big event like part of your family moving from a home only a day’s drive away to one that’s only accessible by a hard and expensive preplanned day of flying and driving, is exciting when you’re in the moment, but heartbreaking when you contemplate the distance that separates you. The thought of being a Dad and not being able to get to your daughter quickly when she needs you is hard to bear, and establishes the importance of trust that her husband is up to the challenge.
Technology can actually help a little; webcams and Skype are wonderful tools that help keep the family a little closer. It’s always so pleasing, but not too satisfying, when my little granddaughter wants to show me everything she’s doing and learning, but has to kiss Pop-pop goodbye by kissing the screen.
Being in the sandwich triggers emotions ranging from joy to frustration, hope to despair, disappointment to happiness. Managing your emotions is essential to keeping some semblance of normalcy in an environment that is not normal for us Americans. Most other cultures in the world accept extended families as commonplace. We don’t. And maybe we should learn to. Because if we can accept the different stereotypes brought on by extended family living we can reduce the emotional peaks and valleys, and the stress on those of us living atypically. It can be OK for male heads of household not to be the primary breadwinner, it can be OK for the woman to have the steady job, it can be OK to take care of your parents while you can instead of dumping them in some home and ignoring them, and it can be looked on as not being soft on your kids if you haven’t kicked them out of the house just because they’re older than 22 and need a little “tough love”.
We tend to be bound by cultural norms that may not be in the best interests of our family members who really need help. Everyone’s situation is different. We’ve looked at ours and decided this is the best way to help each one in our family to the best of our ability. Our challenge is to find the correct balance that gives my wife and me strong family ties, financial security, and peace of mind. And sometimes we have to have faith that we’ll be taken care of when we just don’t see where the money is coming from to tackle that next hurdle.
Let some emotion enter the equation, but don’t let negative emotions rule your situation. You can handle this. Many people do. It’s not as unusual as you think. Your true friends will understand and support you. They’ll encourage you and give you space. And they’ll offer you a shoulder to lean on when you need it. It’s cliché, but just keep putting one foot in front of the other…