First we are born and most of us are lucky enough to be an immediate part of a family, taken care of and loved by our parents.
They support us, encourage us, model for us, confuse us, drive us crazy sometimes, and in general help us figure out how to grow up. The process can be smooth or not, but for many, many years, well into our adult lives even, we feel like kids and in our parents’ eyes we are. We move on with life, celebrating adulthood and raising our own children, all the while relating (or not relating) to our parents as their kids — the younger generation. See Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents by Jane Isay (Amazon.com).
Many of us watch, cluelessly, as our parents take care of their parents. We don’t get it, maybe because we are too self-absorbed with kids, careers, houses, gardens, friends and all of the other aspects of family life.
Then one day, and for us it happened in one day, an event occurs and suddenly we need to support aspects of their lives. As time passes they need more help, advice, support and then one day, a different one for each aging parent, we find ourselves parenting our children and at the same time making a full circle and parenting our parents. We are sandwiched between two generations, our past and our future.