I have figured out what is inside the Stretch Armstrong figures of my youth. You’ll find it ironic since Stretch was masculinity immortalized forever in a tiny toy. Ole Stretch was made of…
I know this because I am now in the Stretch Armstrong phase of life.
Actually, I think women are stretched to capacity at all stages of their adult lives, but this time is especially hard.
Cathy Guisewhite (creator of the Cathy cartoon strip) calls it the panini generation, sandwiched between the needs of the generations before and after us.
Our kids don’t need us like once did; they are on their own. But they still need help. Advice, babysitting, money…all of the things we relied on our parents for in our 20’s and 30’s are the things they are relying on us for now.
Our parents, the ones we rebelled against in our teens and were determined not to be like as young adults, are now treasured friends. We have come full circle, needing them as much as we did when we were children, worrying when they aren’t within our sight and pleading with them to never leave us.
We find a strange new demand at home. Having put the needs of a spouse, work, and other commitments at the forefront for so long, we are surprised when the little revolt from within pops up.
What about me? it cries.
So in a weird, narcissistic twist, we are stretched even farther by our own desires and forgotten dreams.
We are stretched to the limit.
As families grow, they often expand numerically and geographically. Traveling to visit family means leaving loved ones alone at home. Staying home to care for your spouse means not being able to travel and help with your parents as much as you’d like.
It’s “whose family to spend holidays with” all over again. But times 1000. Because the time grows shorter and the needs grow longer.
But this is nothing new.
We’ve been stretched from the moment we tossed our graduation caps in the air, even longer for some women. We’ve adapted and we’ve overcome and we will do it again.
But this time, we know to make every moment count!