Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

Proof That I am The Favorite Child

There’s been much conversation over the last few years about “the sandwich generation”—people between the age of 40 and 60 who are raising children while also caring for aging and elderly parents. It can be a difficult position, both financially and emotionally, as families struggle to find balance and meet financial obligations.

With recent reports that peoples’ life savings are disappearing, home equity is diminished and pension IRAs are deflated by $2trillion over the last 15 months, the most significant part of that amount lost in just the last few weeks, the idea of a generation stuck in the middle of life could very well be the new reality for a majority rather than a generation.

Global economic woes have nudged my threat meter from yellow to orange to red, and as I join the millions of Americans who are wondering where the hell the bottom is, my worry extends from my nuclear family to my extended family and community. I’m only 36. I have time to weather the storm, to look for new investments, to rally and prosper. I hope. But what about my parents?

I am the oldest of three children and last night as I contemplated our family financial obligations for things like my stepdaughter who’s still in college, our four-year-old’s security and college savings, and my own retirement goals, I also thought of my parents and wondered about their financial future.

Rather than sit and stagnate in my own worry juices, I picked up the phone and called my mom.

“Hi. What are you guys doing?” I asked

“We have guests for dinner,” she said and rattled off the names of other couples I could hear bantering good-naturedly in the background.

“I won’t keep you. I just have one quick but very important quesion.”

“OK, what’s that,” she asked

“I just want to know who gets custody of you and Dad if you go bust?”

She didn’t pause long enough to practically contemplate the question before blurting an unequivable…”YOU DO.”

“That’s what I thought,” I said and hung up.

I suppose some people could think of this as a possible hardship or financial fiasco. I on the other hand have decided to regard this little nugget as one more piece of proof that I really am my parents’ favorite child.

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29 comments to Proof That I am The Favorite Child

  • Amy

    You make me laugh! But on a serious note I think that when we talk about ‘us’ being the generation caring for the young and old — this seems to be glorified and deemed so negative at times. I would just like to say that there was a time that this is what society and community was all about. Families helping each other, generationaly. To me this makes so much sense, not just from an economic stand point but from a societal stand point also.

    I want my children to have the exposure to different generations, this indeed is a learning experience that you can get no where else. I think we have lost a lot of traditions because we have become so ‘independent’. I guess I just do not see how it has benefited us as a society.

    So as I am a true believer that things (all things) happen for a reason (sometimes unknown) maybe there is something to be said for the crash of our economic system … maybe it will bring families and communities together.

    I am quite sure that I am the favorite too!

    Amys last blog post..Sweet Dreams!

  • donna

    So that is what you think hmmmmmm. Well in reality you have the bigger house and the room for us,though you do know that dad hates the heat of the south so maybe Kristy will win out.

    In the real relm of things it is really scarey and always on our minds. Every thing that we own is in jepordy every day. I only hope that we can hold out and hang on.

  • Talk about looking at the glass half full. ;-)

    Cheri @ Blog This Mom!s last blog post..PROMPTuesday #25: Giggle Over Spilled Wine

  • Jan

    If my mom were still alive, I can only imagine the arguments over who would have the privilege of taking her in if she needed to live with one of us…

    B: “YOU can take her!”

    S: “No, YOU take her!”

    B: “Give her to H – he was always her favorite!”

    H: “I don’t want her – let’s ship her off to Jan’s! She lives 1200 miles away and won’t be able to afford to send her back!”

    Because we’re such loving children.

    (Actually, she’d probably have ended up living with me or my brother, because my sisters? They’re enough to piss off the Pope.)

    Jans last blog post..*POP* Goes the Culture

  • yesterday i had to stand in line at the bank and listen while a bank teller tried to convince an elderly lady that it was neither necessary nor a good idea to take all her money out of the bank…it was very unsettling…and started me worrying about my own meager (because i dipped into it for school tuition and haven’t yet built it back up) retirement funds AND my parents situation. my dad is odd about money and none of us really know what kind of shape they’re in or where their money is…frightening…

    on a positive note…perhaps i’d be more upset if i had more money in a retirement fund that was in jeopardy…at least i can’t ‘lose’ my education :)

    thistles last blog post..Protected: The Smiling Man

  • I’m in the same boat as you. Same worries, same age. I even have snappy eye glasses. I worry about my folks too. They’re smart with their money, but I would hate to see them fall on hard times at their age. I’m an only child, so I will be the primary care giver to them. However, they prefer my husband to me, so HE is their favorite.

    Ha! I wonder what your mom was thinking during the rest of their dinner party about your phone call!!

  • Tricia

    Amy: There really is a lack of appreciation for older people and for community, I agree and I also don’t want to perpetuate that in my own family. What ever the “bigger” reason is for the market calamities I’d really like for it to reveal itself soon.

    Mom: I cant’ help but notice you didn’t refute my favorite child status, but I’d always thought it was because of how kind and attentive I am as a daughter…are you saying it’s actually because I have a bigger house…you mean I could have still been the favorite without all the displays of adoration and devotion?

    Jan: Hilarious. Hey, I have one of those Pope-pissing-off siblings too, and I’m also 1200 miles away, which I used to think was an insulator factor, but apparently not.

    Thistle: The fear that many of the elderly are surely feeling makes me so sad.

    jenboglass: Actually, after a rousing conversation with her friends, my mom called back and said they all wanted to know if I go bust who gets custody of me and am I planning to move home. I think they’re secretly wishing for the worst just so they can see my son more often.

  • Scary as it is, I’M the responsible one between my brother and I, so I don’t even bother asking my parents… I know what the answer will be.
    I love how your mom didn’t even bat an eyelash or ask you why you were asking her that and that you’re were all “Oh, okay” and hung up. I would have been, “NOOO!”

    Sammanthias last blog post..Grey’s Anatomy: Part Deux

  • Ha! I also will be the home my Mom comes too. This is not good news for me.

    madges last blog post..Poem Thursday – T. Cole Rachel

  • I’ve been in that sandwich before. I’m an only child, so I had no choice.

    Smalltown Moms last blog post..Lightening Up the Dark Side

  • kristy

    I think that what mom really ment to say is that Kristy is really my favorite and that she is just being nice to you by letting you think that you have a chance the heat in the south just sounds like a nice excuse but really I am the favorite. HAHAHAHAHAHA. But I will definetily let you pay parent suport on them to help with the cost of custody.

  • The favorite child in our house has to take out the trash and/or wash the dishes…. Somehow, I think we have the same idea of who is the favorite..

    WickedStepMoms last blog post..No dinner, no dessert!

  • Wow! I’m SQUARELY in the sandwich generation! Two things:

    1. I’ve never heard of the sandwich generation. Therefore, I choose to be peanut butter and jelly: this was my favorite sandwich growing up (Jiff CHUNKY, grape jelly, WHITE bread), AND, I love doing the ‘Peanut-butta-jelly-time’ dance (’It’s peanut-butta-jelly time!’).

    2. My unconscious reaction to my situation was to create as many offspring of differing age groups as possible. That way, I’ve got help if I a) lose my job, b) need taking care of myself, or c) NEED A SANDWICH!

    Heh. Great post! I think we’re all in deep, deep doo doo.

    goodfathers last blog post..Like a splinter in my mind

  • Oh, and great graphic, btw. OK, I’m out. Have a great day!

    goodfathers last blog post..Like a splinter in my mind

  • My wife and I have agreed long ago that we would take each other’s parents if the need arises.

    Chriss last blog post..GUT CHECK!

  • you said it, A LOT to be nervous about….

    garys last blog post..20 bucks and 2 hours=Batman, burritos, beers

  • I’ve been worried about my parents too. They lived in poverty nearly all their lives. Finally started doing well and the economy goes to hell. They went from 200k a year to about 35k a year in the past year, and very little savings. And they’re only in their 50’s, but they’ve been geriatric for years.

    Memarie Lanes last blog post..So What Happens on Friday Then?

  • Jen

    My parents are pretty young, so we don’t have to address this quite yet. My in-laws live right next door to my SIL, so they are taken care of too.

    Yay for being favorite!

    Jens last blog post..Spanking in Schools

  • Tricia

    Kristy: Oh dear baby sister. It worries me when I see that you are still so naive. Parental support? Really? I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll agree to joint custody of the babysitters, opps, I mean parents, you take one for six months. I’ll take the other, and then we’ll swap. I’ve noticed their memories are quickly failing, so it shouldn’t be that hard to separate them.

    Goodfather: My husband tried that offspring of different age groups thing and it wasn’t working out so well, so he married a younger woman and said I’m his best investment. Oh, the pressure of it all is killing me.

  • kristy

    Naive, oh how funny. I see what this is really about….. babysitters. How are mom and dad supposed to pick you as the favorite when you are obviously using them to get your own way. I would think that they could see through your devilish ways. But really the joke is on me isn’t it because you are going to be in your sixties yes sixties when mom and dad are in their seventies so I will probably end up with all of you. I am not sure that this is so fare. Maybe you all could start paying me parental and sibling support now so that I have a built up account to take care of you all. HA

  • First of all, YAY for being numero uno.

    I know what you mean. This economy has wasted aways years of my parents hard earned savings and this ways so heavily now that they are retired. Oy.

    MamaGeeks last blog post..I Miss This.

  • Oh Tricia, you are obviously feeling better!!! That’s adorable. I’m an only child, so I have no choice. I’m the favorite by default. My mother is also an only child, and on top of being my live-in nanny 5 days a week, she also takes care of my grandma who lives across the street. She is living exactly what you are talking about. It’s stressful. Moreso because my grandma is a REAL piece of work!!! My mom is a delight. If she stays mentally acute as she ages, she will be a joy to take care of.

    HeatherPrides last blog post..Baby Wipes and Black Eyes

  • OH MY GOD. I just said this to my friend D today…”WHAT IF MY MOTHER HAS TO MOVE IN WITH ME?” I will totally go insane.

  • Me too. But shhhh, I don’t like to rub it in their faces. LOL

    Smart Mouth Broads last blog post..THE LOST ART OF CUSTOMER SERVICE

  • Sometimes, being the favorite isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For me, given the wonderful relationship I have with my mother, I’m happy I’d take custody of her. My sister? So glad she’s not the favorite! My three brothers? Ditto.

    patoiss last blog post..The Search for Answers

  • kristy

    So Tricia if this is realy about the whole babysitting thing then to solve the problem you and Kim and Aaron could always move back to VT and it will be solved. And as far as the memory thing goes we haven,t lost it yet baby. In fact I am getting better with age not the other way around. And Kristy is correct when saying that we will grow old together. And for the record eveybody I am ONLY 52,
    I AM NOT old. So stop arguing over us.

  • kristy

    So now figure this out I am responding under Kristy’s name. are you all confused yet I AM NOT.

  • Actually, I think drawing families back to relying on one another is a plus in all this mess. We need those connections. The duplication of resources in our families makes life very expensive. It sounds nuts, but I’d love to have my in-laws living with us someday. I’d hate for it to be a forced situation. That’s what makes this all so icky right now.

    I love your post and I think it would be lots of fun to interact with you and your family. You guys have such a neat approach to things. I love you can have a quickie conversation like that.

    Lisa Ps last blog post..How Not To Drown

  • [...] already established that I am The Favorite Child, and with the title comes a certain amount of daunting responsibility. What’s a dedicated and [...]

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