When my mom, Rose Beebe, moved into a nearby memory care facility two years ago, I became an automatic member of the Sandwich Generation.
Two requirements are necessary to join this growing club of 10 million people nationwide: You must be caring for an aging parent and raising children at the same time.
I immediately felt like I was in a mid-life tug-of-war, trying to physically and emotionally support the most important females in my life: Mom, 88, who put so much love and devotion into raising me; and Jazlyn, 17, who deserves my utmost attention and support as she approaches adulthood.
My sandwich recently became a triple-decker when I decided to start homeschooling Jazlyn, my only child.
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Already challenged by juggling work as an editor, freelance writer and yoga-studio owner, along with single parenting and seeing Mom through Alzheimer's, my decision to add schoolteacher to my resume came with careful consideration.
Jazlyn was an outgoing and precocious child, thirsty for knowledge and reading by age 4. She loved school and poured her boundless creative energy into dance and musical theater.
Jazlyn excelled in elementary and middle school, but things changed during her freshman year of high school.
Overcrowded classrooms, lack of individual attention, pressure to excel in honors and AP classes and a 7:15 a.m. start time that goes against a developing teenager's natural sleep cycle took a toll.
Too much memorization and thinking inside the box and too little creativity left Jazlyn unmotivated, uninspired and stressed out. The love of learning that once flowed naturally was lost.
I wondered how I'd find the time to oversee Jazlyn's 11th-grade education.
But my instinct told me this was necessary. I conferred with friends who homeschooled and they quickly put my mind at ease, advising me to take my time exploring the various academic methods available to determine what resonated with both of us.
Those friends also encouraged me to give Jazlyn some decompression time to detoxify from the effects of institutional education. She needed to change gears from following a stringent schedule, doing what she was told all the time, and attending to meaningless subjects and ignoring her interests.
I wanted her to release the pressure to academically "perform" and restore her curiosity and innate desire to learn.
And honestly, I went through a decompression phase myself.
I never realized how much of my energy was tied up around Jazlyn's schooling - dashing around in the morning to get breakfast ready, rushing to make the carpool lane on time, helping with homework and projects, studying for tests and feeling stressed because she was. School was more a race than a gratifying experience - for both of us.
We are still transitioning into homeschooling, but I feel we are getting into a groove.
We often work side-by-side, laptop-by-laptop.
While I peck out articles, Jazlyn is immersed in her studies. I help her with projects and monitor her progress. We take breaks and go visit Mom and her friends.
Jazlyn says she'd rather spend time with seniors than her peers, and as I watch her light up the room I know this is true.
My heart swells with pride as I watch her compassionately connect with every soul there - laughing, conversing, hugging. She has such a beautiful heart and spirit and doesn't even begin to realize her power.
It seems like yesterday Jazlyn and I were playing with Barbies and making cakes in her Easy-Bake Oven.
Now she is focused on getting her license, dating and finding a job. Her childhood flashed right by, and now I am trying to savor the last bit of it.
Mom was a large part of Jazlyn's upbringing.
I recently asked her what she thought of Jazlyn as a young adult and she said, "Jaz is a grownup lady, flying right past Grandma. I like to look at pictures of her and sing to the picture. I want everything good for you, Jazzy, and want you to think of this now."
"Aw, Granny, I love you so much," Jazlyn said as she gave her a big hug. I am grateful Jazlyn will have these special memories of her grandmother and, as difficult as it may be sometimes, that she can witness how beautiful Mom is in her winter season.
I have come to honor the cycles of life and realize I won't be a member of the Sandwich Generation forever.
So every day I do the best I can and remember the most important thing is to enjoy the precious time I have with my two favorite women.
Editor's note: In Lisa Moore's column, "Generations," she writes about the challenges and healing she experiences as a member of the Sandwich Generation: those caring for a parent and a child.