In New Wine Wednesday

By Heidi Hess Saxton

Untitled by wokandapix via Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons

 

My life is at a unique crossroads at this particular moment: My son turned eighteen this year, and tomorrow marks the 16th anniversary of our “forever family.” Sweet sixteen(!) It was also right around this time last year (Mother’s Day) when my husband and I decided to start the process of bringing mom to live with us. I have officially become part of the “sandwich generation.” And so the first lines of the first reading today (I Peter 1:18-25) caught my eye …

Beloved,

Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct handed on by your ancestors,

not with perishable things like silver or gold

but with the precious Blood of Christ as of a spotless, unblemished Lamb….

For sixteen years my husband and I have been on the front lines in the battle of nurture vs. nature, hoping to help our children to fully embrace their calling as children of God, despite their early experiences. And for far longer than that, I have been doing my best to embrace my own adoption, resisting the nature of my first parents, Adam and Eve, in order to live like a daughter of the King.

Last night I found myself in the middle of a chaotic exchange between my teenage daughter, my elderly mother, and myself. My husband was gone, and both of them were unhappy with me for reasons that made no sense to me. (I chalked my daughter’s tantrum up to teenage hormones, my mother’s up to dementia. Mine, simply to the resentment of being squeezed into an impossible situation.) When will it end? I kept asking myself. When will the nonsense end?

It was tempting to hold a ginormous pity party for myself. Or simply to put my foot firmly down, and insist that it was “my way or the highway.” But what would that have done? It would have led to a stubborn standoff, each of us retreating to our separate spaces feeling resentful, bullied, and misunderstood. Instead I took a deep breath.

I think we need to lighten things up a bit — how about a game of Scrabble?” I pulled out the board I’d inherited from my maternal grandmother, a Scrabble shark if ever there was one. Mom’s eyes lit up … dementia or no, she can always give me a run for my money. And Sarah likes nothing more than to see her mother beaten, fair and square.

I drew my seven tiles, then made my play: d-a-r-n-e-d. Six letters, not bad. Double points.

I heard an intake of breath, then with slightly shaking hands my mom built on my final “d”: F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D. Using all her tiles, she put her score light-years ahead of mine. She caught my eye, the triumphant gleam unmistakable. “You’re FINISHED!” she crowed.

Not quite, Mom. But someday. Someday.

About the Author:

Heidi is a wife and adoptive mother, contributing writer to WINE, and author of Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta and the follow-up companion, Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Servant, released January 2017). Heidi received a graduate degree in theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit in 2012, having converted to the Catholic faith in 1995 from the evangelical tradition. She met her husband, Craig, at the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Club, and lives with her family (including two special-needs teenagers, a longsuffering Aussie shepherd and a snuggly Chiweenie) near South Bend, Indiana.

Showing 23 comments
  • Karen
    Reply

    God bless you. What a great story that made me smile today.

    • Heidi
      Reply

      Thanks, Karen!

  • Morida Tinucci
    Reply

    What does kill makes us stronger! Your strength is admirable!

    • Morida Tinucci
      Reply

      That was supposed to be what doesn’t kill us …fat thumbs !!!

  • Morida Tinucci
    Reply

    That was supposed to be what doesn’t kill us …fat thumbs !!!

    • Heidi
      Reply

      No worries … if we get stronger from our struggles we get wiser from mistakes! Heidi

    • Heidi
      Reply

      No worries … if we get stronger from our struggles we get wiser from mistakes!

  • Moari
    Reply

    Love your story. I have lived some layer of the sandwich generation for 20+ years. Presently, adult child with family have moved in with us while their new home is being built. It will be a little more than a year when their house is finished. It has been an interesting experience that at this monent in time I would not change. They may have to add a room for me. (or not). It’s all about God and family.

  • Heidi
    Reply

    Sounds wonderful. God bless you!

  • Sharon Wilson
    Reply

    Thanks again for your wit and wisdom!

    • Heidi Saxton
      Reply

      Thanks, Sharon. I hope you are well.

  • Kathy
    Reply

    I hear you all, as I experience my 2 adopted ones here and deal with the teenage hormones scene! But in the end, wouldn’t trade it for the world! Thank you for sharing a wonderful way to deal with the “bumps!” A heavy heart here today, with Ireland’s decision yesterday, and feeling very blessed that the birthmoms of my 2 did not go in that barbaric direction! Praise God!!

    • Heidi Saxton
      Reply

      It can be tough to navigate the adoption scene in the teen years … But when I talk to adoptive parents whose children have “launched,” almost invariably their children — even those who search for birth parents — wind up grateful for the chance both sets of parents gave them. God bless you!

  • cindy
    Reply

    that is so “life” thanks for the insight and the laugh

    • Heidi Saxton
      Reply

      Thanks, Cindy!

  • Maureen
    Reply

    Clever way to diffuse a volatile situation! I agree with your other commenters that life is about loving God and family and trying to have no regrets when it’s truly finished. As we all know (but sometimes forget) “this too shall pass”. Keep on being loving and loving living.

  • Heidi Saxton
    Reply

    I’ll be honest, some days it can be tough to keep perspective, and I don ‘t always win the temper battle. But I suspect that’s why God brought these two into my life to begin with … practice makes perfect, right? God bless.

  • Mary Papke
    Reply

    God bless you Heidi for your commitment to family, and God bless families! I believe we are given each other to get us all to heaven!

    • Heidi Saxton
      Reply

      Thanks, Mary!

  • Mary
    Reply

    Thanks, Heidi. I was blessed to care for my mom in her home while in hospice and care for my dad at our home. I am so grateful to have been gifted with those opportunities. Given that I am far from perfect, everything was hardly perfect, but a blessing none the less. Keep going along your way, growing in the Lord’s great grace.

  • Heidi Saxton
    Reply

    I keep hearing it from those who have been where I am now — “You will never regret the time you spent doing this.” At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that we weren’t able to do it perfectly … only that we did our best. At least, that’s what I think. I’m grateful to the people (my husband, my employer, my father) who have made it possible for me to be there for her at this stage in her life.

  • Beverly Swain
    Reply

    I, too, was the middle of a “sandwich” for years, helping in the nurturing and care for my elderly parents and my husband’s elderly mother and the nurturing and care for our four children. I thought that was difficult. But, it was only the training ground for what was to come. I again find myself part of a sandwich. Only now I’m a piece of bread and I watch as our youngest daughter is pressed between her duties as a mother of four and her self imposed duty as my assistant in caring for her father who is locked in the throes of Alzheimers. Neither of my places has been easier than the other, both are equally as difficult. Being a caring wife is my job in life at the moment. God gave me the tools I need early on in life. With His help I am able to fulfill my wedding promise, “In sickness.” With my daughter’s close involvement we are able to keep my husband at home. Sometimes sandwiches are the most nourishing thing available.

  • Heidi Hess Saxton
    Reply

    Indeed. Thanks for sharing your story!

    Heidi

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