The Women of the Panini Generation

While presenting a CEU seminar entitled “The Impact of Aging on the Family – Aging is a Family Affair,” I was struck with the realization that while speaking of the experiences of Baby Boomers, I now needed to include myself in this discussion!

My husband and I had recently welcomed into our home our 30-something daughter and 1-year-old  granddaughter. After her recent separation, and during the process of divorce, we knew that we could offer assistance through this difficult transition.

I, however, was now going through my own transition while balancing obligations to work, our home, bottles, bed-time stories, and attention to my marriage as well as the concerns for my 80-something year old mother.  I was officially a member of this “Sandwich Generation” and not so sure that I welcomed the opportunity to define myself in this way.  I now knew of these experiences first hand and could empathize with the women I counseled daily on a very different level.

“Sandwich Generation” –  a pretty good metaphor until you have to walk in these shoes!  Then something like the reference by Lee Woodruff  to the “Panini Generation”  in her book “Perfectly Imperfect – A Life in Progress” sparks an image so indelible that one wonders how we could refer to caregiving as anything but……  A club sandwich image works too but not quite as well as that ham and cheese panini.

Squished between the worries and responsibilities for our children, our spouses and our parents leaves one little room for even a thought about ourselves.  Throw in our grandchildren if one is fortunate enough to have some and the cheese oozes out off of the plate.

Refer to an elderly wife as caregiver and she will immediately correct you, as one of my clients once did and state “This is what a wife does….”  One would say the same of a mother when their younger or adult child is in need or an adult daughter is confronted by the needs of their aging parent – it’s what we, the woman of the Baby Boomer generation do.

More to follow as I negotiate these many roles…..

~  Janet Pincu, MSW, LCSW