The word "middle" conjures up many images. Some apply to my life, other's do not.
There is the middle child. Not gushed and gooed over like the firstborn, not pampered and spoiled like the baby, the middle child has been the subject of numerous psychological theories.
Being the oldest sibling, my odd behavior fell under a different category.
Middle school. Here one is no longer treated like a little kid. Yet one still gets to play before the responsibilities of high school set in. I was in that middle place so long ago, it feels like a different lifetime.
But there is a middle that fits my place in life today. As it does with so many other Baby Boomers.
With a generation above me and one below, I am sandwiched in the center, sometimes like a flattened piece of processed turkey, other times like that sweet spot in the center of a tootsie pop.
It depends on the day, the hour, the circumstances.
Above me, I have my eighty-seven-year-old mom. She is a spry, active, internet savvy woman who up until last year helped care for my father.
Below, I have a thirty-something daughter with three children, an ex-husband, a current husband and many insecurities.
Every morning I call my mother just to check in. She often cries on my shoulder. Every morning my daughter calls me and often does the same thing.
For the record, I have very small shoulders. But like a person who gains super strength to lift a car off a crushed child, my shoulders expand to embrace each situation.
This past weekend, I realized even more what this middle position entails.
I watched my daughter receive her martial arts recognition. I was the proud mother shouting into the early morning air. Probably embarrassing her, as mothers often do.
Then I went to visit my mother and flipped into daughter-mode. I read her my current short story. There wasn't any clapping, oohing and aahing, but she gave me the praise I needed along with a few suggestions.
When it came time to listen to her, I did so as a daughter, but listening as a sixty-year-old child is not quite the same as listening as a young adult. Now I seem to be giving advice and I am being listened to in return.
Still, she has the final say. After all, she is my mother, a strong-willed one, I might add. I'm gathering strength from her which I hope I can pass on to my daughter. Only time will tell.
Driving home, back to the quiet of my three bedroom house, the reality of my situation digs itself deeper into my psyche.
Daily, I am pulled in both directions. But you know what, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Because one day, I'll be sitting in that top position.
And you can bet, as difficult as this "sandwiched" position is, I won't relinquish it easily.
Sometimes you just have to give life the middle finger.