Q: “There’s no place like home for the holidays”. That’s what the song says anyway and it is my goal, but this year I am not sure if I can make it. I shouldn’t have problems. My husband and I have been happily married for 25 years, our children are both in university and our parents are all alive, but somedays I don’t know if I can continue. Is there something wrong with me?
A: No, there is not. You are probably exhausted and with good reason. Middle-age is often known as the sandwich-generation. You are sandwiched between your children who still need your emotional and perhaps financial support and your parents who are probably more of a worry than ever. If your children have significant others in their lives, during the holidays you may also need to include their parents and possibly your grandchildren in your plans. Your life may now be busier than it has ever been and the holidays bring that much more work and responsibility. Worrying about schedules, foods, abilities and interests of such a wide age group is next to impossible.
You also may be experiencing a number of personal issues relating to middle age. Often it is our bodies that first remind us of our age, with wrinkles and thickening waistlines, and a memory that does not work as well as it used to. Perhaps your sex life with your husband has decreased in satisfaction and you may be struggling with the realization that certain career and family decisions have limited your future options. All of these concerns can create insecurities that add to stress. You are, perhaps, overwhelmed at a time in your life when you thought that you could start to relax. Instead, you find yourself with more things to take care of. With time, however, you will adapt to your new roles. Seek out community and family sources of support, with your aged parents. You may be gratified to discover that you can build closer connections with both, the older and younger generations. It may be useful to seek professional help in dealing with the multiple stresses that challenge you now. Most importantly, you must learn how to take care of yourself, so that you can meet these challenges and enjoy life.
To you, and all my readers, I wish peace and joy this holiday season!