I've been part of the flower child generation, part of the baby boomer generation, part of the sexual revolution generation and part of the Cold War generation. And now I find I'm right in the middle of the "sandwich generation."
In just a few days last week, I made arrangments for a home health care nurse to visit my mother (after several visits and phone calls to convince her she needs one), communicated with my son in the Philippines about which college he should attend spring semester and got some forms filled out and sent to him to sign, and finalized arrangements to spend a week in Las Vegas to tend my granddaughter.I'm awash in generational minutiae.
I'll be paying for home nursing care, for tuition and, happily, for lots of baby toys.
It's an odd place to be and not one I ever really anticipated, though I've known it would probably happen. At least I don't feel nobody needs me. Not yet, anyway.
For all the years my children were very young, my parents took care of themselves except for the occasional financial consultation. Before that, I really had nobody to worry about except myself. Now, suddenly, I find myself giving out advice about things I really don't know much about. And people are believing me.
When I became a grandmother six months ago, I started getting questions about child-rearing, though my son and daughter-in-law are smarter than I am and have many more resources than I ever had. My answer to the one about when to start feeding the baby cereal was opposite from what the doctor said, but the baby's mom believed me!
My son has spent the past two years on a church mission, gaining, I hope, all kinds of new confidence and organizational abilities. But he wants to know what I think about where he should go to school. And what's frightening is I think he's going to take my advice (and my money).
My mom is beginning to need more help and more company since she rarely leaves the house any more.
And I do have a full-time career that keeps me pretty busy as well as a part-time job teaching college classes.
But I'm not complaining. There's a lot to be said for being needed. And what would I be doing if not helping out both of my families - the one I came from and the one I made, as Hillary Clinton refers to them.
Well, actually, reading, hiking, traveling, skiing and shopping come immediately to mind. But those are minor endeavors I can do anytime and will probably get around to by the time I'm in my 60s.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh once said, "By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class."
It's a class I share with many others, and I realize so far I'm one of the lucky ones. My mother can still live in her own home reasonably independently, and I have a sister to help. My children have never spent time at the Point of the Mountain, and my granddaughter is startlingly healthy and amazingly pretty.
It's only a matter of time and money spent on helping the people I love be as happy as they can be - for the moment.
Actually, I'm a willing member of the sandwich generation. It's a lot more fun than the Cold War.