There I sat in the dimmed theater, my son on my left with my mom to his left. This in and of itself is a rare occurrence. The last time we all went to a movie together was when we went and saw “Oz, The Great and Powerful,” I don’t know how many years ago. During that last go around, I glanced over to see my mom had fallen asleep in the “Wizard of Oz”-inspired film, which proved to be far more interesting than the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West became the Wicked Witch of the West. Honestly, by the end of that film I wished I’d fallen asleep with my mom.

Be that as it may, this time, as my son, my mom and I watched the movie “Joy,” my mom was as far from falling asleep as she could be. Her eyes were bright as she watched Jennifer Lawrence portray the QVC/Home Shopping Network queen Joy Mangano on the big screen, while I seemed to be absorbed – let’s say struck – by one scene very early on in the film.

In that scene, Lawrence has pulled up the hardwood floor in her mother’s room because of a leaky pipe underneath it. The mother hangs onto to her daughter’s every movement as Lawrence gets a wrench and tries to fix the problem. Even as she works, they go back and forth as to why the pipe is plugged, spewing water straight up into the room. Even after Lawrence tries to stop the leak, water continues to shoot straight up and her mother asks her the inevitable question that every member of the sandwich generation knows (and if they don’t know it, they will). It goes something like this, “What do you mean you can’t fix it?” spoken in a tone that says the speaker can’t even comprehend a world where said fixer can’t do something.

It’s then that Lawrence spoke the words that resonated with me. “No, Mom, it’s beyond my capabilities. I have to call a plumber,” she says as she tosses the wrench back in a wooden tool box, which just happens to be under the nearby table with its placement just happening to point out how many times she has done the very same thing before.

Those words, “It’s beyond my capabilities,” sang to my soul. How many times have many of us done the exact same thing over and over, only to find the problem just recurs despite our best efforts to fix it? Then just by some weird twist of something, the fix we usually use just doesn’t work anymore, causing those around you to stand agog that, somehow, something that we can usually take care of with aplomb is beyond our capabilities.

That “something” can be almost anything. I think the most important part of the process is coming to the conclusion that something is beyond your capability, that you need to bring someone

else in to help fix whatever

the issue is because you just

can’t resolve it, and that there’s nothing wrong with that.

From what I’ve seen, many of us are usually at the end of our very-frayed rope before we even think of admitting that something is beyond our capabilities. We have so many plates spinning in the air, that the very thought that we have to bring someone else in to help with something actually adds one more plate to the action rather than take it away, in spite of the fact that doing so actually does help with the load instead of adding to it.

So, the next time you fellow members of the sandwich generation find yourself facing anything that you know deep in your soul is beyond your capabilities, resist the urge to try to take care of it yourself once again and face the reality of the situation at hand. That, for one of those rare times in life, you have found something that is beyond your ability to take care of on your own, and repeat after me, “This is beyond my capabilities.”

Even saying it will make you feel better!

Sarah Lunsford is a freelance journalist living in Murphys You can reach her at



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