Off the Mat: Sandwich Generation


Full moon shines through the camper van window, directly onto my face. I take advantage, risk the click of the door waking my guys. Upon arrival, we’d scoped the lay of the land: bathrooms, camp store, path to the beach. I head toward the latter, no need for a flashlight in the moonlight.

And have the beach to myself, so far as I know. Talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity! I sit. Listen. Think. Stretch some. Breathe. Notice. The movement behind me is my own shadow. I cast a moon shadow. Yes, it followed me, just like in the old song.

Weeks later…

Which is it, Mama? You said the moon is between us and the sun. And you said it’s the shadow. Which is it?  he demands, pleased to have caught me in error. The graphic in my parents’ local paper shows how the eclipse is both at the same time. Both are true. The dark circle we’ll see is the moon in front of and blocking the sun. The part of the earth where we live will be in the shadow. The moon shadow.

We’ve traveled 600 miles for the eclipse. Or more accurately, because of it. Poppy, who pays attention to these things, began planning last summer. He and my sister headed out west to the 100% totality zone with an almost guarantee of clear skies. My kiddo and I are tasked to stay with Grammy, who’s unwilling to travel. No fair, cries my kid. I want to see 100% too. But 8-year-old wants are eclipsed by the realities of aging parents and tight budgets.  Still, I spin the bright side; we advance from 60% to 90% totality, even if there’s no better chance of clear skies than at home. Prepping the week before, I found a multi-pack of overpriced but still reasonable glasses online and had them shipped directly to my parents’. Social media had not yet introduced me to cereal box or colander alternatives.

Eclipse morning dawns. Forecast is clear, but the calendar is not. My mother has scheduled a doctor’s appointment at the height of the eclipse.  She still drives, but clearly wants me to come. I don’t understand why you need me to go with you.

She pauses before answering, then shares she’s afraid of bad news. I’ll be upset and want someone to drive home with me.

Oh, ok, I answer. I can do that.

Lest her nerves eclipse the eclipse, we drive into town early so as not to miss the good parts. Settle her into the air conditioned waiting room, then join the parking lot party. Office workers pass a cereal box viewer. A delivery man declines my offer of eclipse glasses, patting his pair in a pocket. One hygienist comes out for a peek. An older man asks if he can take glasses to his wife, waiting in the truck. His smile warms when I suggest he keep the pair for the two of them.

A dad and teen daughter take turns with glasses before returning them to go inside. They re-emerge 15 minutes later, when the eclipse is almost full. Timidly, the girl asks for another turn. We have extras, I say. You can keep that pair if you’d like.

Really?!? Daddy, she’s giving me the glasses!

Sometimes, kid needs eclipse parent needs.  A friend and I check in weekly on exercise plans. I didn’t accomplish my goals last week and realize how I put myself second to the needs of the kids. This week I plan to take them to the gym with me. Other projects may or may not happen, but I’m practicing   awareness every day.

Sometimes, it’s the reverse. Rather than allowing my mother’s health blot out the day, we find room for both. Share our glasses with appreciative strangers in a parking lot. I sit. Listen. Think. Stretch some. Breathe. Notice. Today, I am both child and parent. Both at the same time.

Grammy rejoins us. More tests scheduled for 3 weeks out, yet she seems less upset in knowing than she had been in anticipation. The old song muses about the glimmer of good in bad situations, the moon shadow. The sacred light. The silver lining.

[Photo credit: (cc) emivel2003]


Ginny Hamilton

Pain specialist, yoga instructor, and Reiki practitioner Ginny Hamilton teaches simple & proven techniques to release pain & restore energy in the workplace, group classes & private sessions. She has put down roots in South Amherst with her spouse and young son. Daily she’s amazed by the beauty the Pioneer Valley offers, though her allergies beg to differ. In Off the Mat, Ginny explores how yoga’s physical and mindfulness exercises help her parent and how parenting shapes her yoga practice.



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