This morning I sat at my mum’s house eating breakfast. This no longer is a solitary, selfless affair. I turned to my right and spooned a mouthful of porridge into my baby, turned to my left and spooned a mouthful of Special K into my mum, and finally took up my own spoon and fed myself. One for Ruby, one for mum, one for me. These are indeed my ‘sandwhich years’ – so called because we are stuck in the middle of caring for elderly parents and young children, in my case looking after a recent baby and two small girls and my mum who was struck down by a devastating stroke. And when I’m pulled this way and that, I often amuse myself with the thoughts of what kind of sandwich I am today.
Most days I feel like a limp ham and butter – drab, boring and left on the shelf in a 24 hour garage, a little saggy and wilted and nearly out of date. Occassionally I spruce myself up, get inspired and turn out a rather saucy (but still not very exoctic) chicken and mayo. If I manage to really get myself together and prune bits of myself, I may even be a chicken and avocado. On days when I feel some sense of achievement, when more To-Do’s are ticked than added to on my never-ending list, I am a double decker club perhaps. With a bit of sweet chilli dressing on the side.
One of the first blogs I ever wrote was about my mum making a tuna sandwich and my astonishment at the length of time it took her. She was always telling me to slow down, and often when I’m running around like a headless chicken I think of that blog and what it led to. It was spotted by a magazine who printed it, and so began a good working relationship, which continues now. The vast majority of my blogs and my published articles have not been about the filling, but about the bread that supports me – my mum and my children. I may be the taste inside (boring or exotic) but they have been the strength on the outside, keeping me together.
I may be in my sandwich years, caring for my loved ones at either end of the age spectrum, but they have been and are my bookends, my bread, my boundaries, my inspiration, my proudest parts, my best parts, the parts I write about, the parts I need. What kind of sandwich am I today? I hope a very well made, slowly made tuna sandwich to make my mum proud.