Reports from Inside the Sandwich

It’s hard to say when, exactly, we became members of the “sandwich generation.” If I had to guess I would say it started around the time that my husband flew to his mother’s home in order to drive her back to our home so that she could meet our twins. This was about six months after they were born, and just a few days after we had received an official ASD diagnosis for our oldest daughter. As newly enrolled members of the parents of multiples and special needs parenting clubs, too, I don’t think we recognized it at the time. Things have been steadily changing ever since then.
Grandma and the child have always had a pretty special relationship. In the child’s newborn days when she couldn’t sleep because she was hungry and she couldn’t eat because she was sleepy and her over-sensitive sensory system refused the comfort of snuggling, Grandma was one of a few souls who had enough patience to hold her, and the right touch to get her quiet for a few moments so I could manage to eat, or rest, or start a load of laundry. She stayed with us for about a week and she taught me a lot as a new mom.
Four years later when we tried to explain the child’s diagnosis, Grandma refused to accept it. Instead she seemed to think we hadn’t given her enough social opportunities and/or that our parenting was at fault. We did our best to explain and brushed the rest away. Shortly after, it was apparent that Grandma was becoming more wrapped up in her own world, and that it didn’t matter whether she got it or not. Interestingly, the child and Grandma now have some similar challenges – weak social skills, poor self-regulation, difficulty with verbal expression, insistence on routine, and distraction from self-care.
Because we are removed physically from Grandma much of the day to day “assistance” for her is being taken care of by others. She would deny that she needs “assistance,” but she does. We get phone calls when she is frustrated or worried about some big (or little) decision – usually one she’s been trying to make for several months. One thing she didn’t want us to help with was Christmas and birthday gifts for the kids. She got some prompting from a dear friend, and was able to purchase a book, which her friend mailed to us last week.

Thank You, God, for Everything!

Have you seen these books? They are available from Hallmark. It is just about the sweetest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Grandma’s friend helped her learn how to do the recording. As the child turns each page, Grandma’s voice reads the text. The recording is super clear. All of our kids are thrilled with this book. Their favorite page is the title page where Grandma reads the name of the book and then says, “A gift to…[each of their names”… from Grandma…” It makes them giggle to hear her say their names. It makes me tear up. Our twins may never really know Grandma as the strong and independent woman that she is. No matter what happens from here we will have this special way to remember her strength, her faith, and her love.
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