Life Interrupting Life

The best-laid plans, beautifully crafted and lovingly Time To Stop Concept Clocksustained, are thrown to the wind when a crisis occurs. This happened to me about a week ago, when I took my 90 year-old Mother to urgent care due to a spate of lightheadedness that had plagued her for days. After many tests and continued examination, she was admitted to the hospital for congestive heart failure. It’s important to note that my mom lives on her own and guards her independence fiercely. Having to spend the weekend in the hospital and then subsequently face the reality that certain long-standing lifestyle habits must change was a lot for her, and her family, to handle. Life is gifted at interrupting itself and so we experienced this truism these past two weeks.

Now, how does this relate to a blog about the experience of work? Plenty. For me, life interrupting life meant that I had to miss a critical business presentation, cancel an important business development meeting and balance my work commitments and attention to mom rather precariously. The burden of worry, split between the two halves of my life, was rough. The experience quadrupled the respect I have for people constantly living the “Sandwich Generation” life – those who find themselves balancing work, children and aging parents. Truly, honestly, I don’t know how they do it.

The truth is, there are lots of resources out there to consult: healthcare professionals, career experts and healthy aging advisors. The Greatest Generation is living longer than even they expected and their needs have created a growing Healthcare-Industrial Complex that will likely evolve to greater heights as the Boomers age. I looked through such resources myself, finding the writing of Forbes’ Carolyn Rosenblatt and an extensive study by Pew Research on the impact of aging parents on the finances, emotional well-being and careers of caregiver children.

Yet even with all these resources, it is up to every child of every aging parent to live through the ups and downs the situation presents. It is a process, and a learning. A process in terms of living the experience with no clearly marked beginning and end but a middle that must be worked through; and a learning in terms of a life test that the majority of us take and, ultimately, pass.

What this is forcing me to see is how tightly scheduled my life has become. How a minor interruption can throw the whole machinery off: near-term goals, health, patience, family life and self-care. I wonder how many other professionals find themselves in the same place, a place where we are precision-like in how we structure our day-to-day leaving no room for crisis, or change. No room to allow, on occasion, life to interrupt life.

It appears that right now the immediate crisis is passing. My siblings and I are arranging for at-home care and getting my mother physical therapy to increase her strength. Yet we know there will be more situations like this, future instances that will come but cannot be planned for. What I can plan for, though, is reframing my schedule to accomplish what I want yet allow time for the occasional intrusion of, well, life itself.





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