In most cases, the tugs on the Sandwich Generation come from aging parents and growing children, both needing attention at the same time. But this past week, I was faced with simultaneous pulls from a suddenly ill spouse and my twin grandsons celebrating their fifth birthday. I wanted to be with everyone, albeit for very different reasons, and searched to balance my time, energy and emotions between them. Of course, I wanted to be at the hospital with my husband, even if it meant just sitting there while he slept. The rest of the world melted away while I was with him. He, at the same time, didn’t want to disappoint our grandsons by having me miss their birthday party. So there I was again, trying to be everything to everyone important to me – and feeling exhausted.

Then, instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I allowed myself to feel a sense of comfort with what I was able to do. I could enjoy the personal closeness I shared with my husband at the hospital and later relish the infectious joy that my grandsons exuded. Although I couldn’t be in two places at once, I could completely immerse myself in each situation, one at a time. Once I began to accept where I was rather than where I wasn’t, I felt enveloped by each member of my family as I shared precious moments with them.

How have you handled these same kinds of family pulls?

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