Friday, December 3, 2010

Keeping Up

Since I've gone back to work, I've had a very hard time keeping up with life.  I only work four hours a day, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.  You would not think that would cause a problem for me and my schedule.  Of course, because I am teaching, I always seem to have to an an hour or two to add on to those four hours in order to get the grading and planning done.  I love being back to work, but I wonder how I ever was able to even sort of manage getting everything done when I worked full-time.

If you are retired, do you ever wonder how you managed to keep up the other demands of living while you were working?  When I reflect on the schedule that my husband and I kept when I worked full-time teaching high school English while he worked a sixty plus hour a week job as a high school principal,  I truly wonder what super powers we once possessed to maintain our lives and sanity during those busy years.  And yet, when we reminisce about those bygone days, we only remember that life was good - very good.

During the 12 years that my husband was principal, we never went fishing.  We did not own a lawn mower.  We always went to bed right after the 10:00 news.  We seldom ate lunch or dinner at home.  We went out to eat nearly every night.  The house was faithfully vacuumed by my husband once a week, and I usually moped the kitchen floor once a week.  I dusted the furniture when we had guests, or when I really was ashamed of how much dust had collected on every surface. Since our children and grandchildren lived in other states and towns, we seldom even saw them.   Mostly, our lives were consumed by high school events and activities.

Last school year, was the first year that both of us did not work at all.  We were fully retired.  For the three years previous to that year, we both took semester jobs one time or another.  One semester after I retired, I taught elementary ESL in Colorado Springs.  This meant that I had two 40 minute commutes each day.  It also meant that I was was teaching in an area where I had never taught before:  elementary school.  I loved the job and hated to see it end, but I really did not want to continue the commute.  It had been a good experience.  I learned new things and met new people.  I also kept my insurance premiums from hitting my own personal pocket by working those six more months.

The next year, my husband was asked to return to work for a semester gig as a middle school principal.  An unplanned change was made in administration at a local middle school at Thanksgiving of that year.  My husband was asked to come in and get things back in line.  He stepped out of his comfort zone in this job, just as I did when I taught elementary school.  He had not worked at the middle school level since the late '60's.  Right away, he was working at least 10 hours again, and seemed to love every minute of it.

That same school year, I was asked to teach reading at an elementary school from February until the end of May.  Since I had lost my retirement partner, I decided to help the school out by taking the job.

Then, we learned to say, "no."  For one entire school year, neither of us worked.  A little over a month ago,  I was called and asked to come and teach English to international students as the University near our house.  I started working only three weeks ago.  I had one week off for Thanksgiving Vacation.  I worked this week.  I have one more week to go before the end of the semester.  Already, I am saying, "I can't wait to be done with school."  I have so much to do.  I am behind on laundry.  I am behind on cleaning the house.  I need to go grocery shopping.  I have not been exercising.  I can't keep up with my blog...

Christmas is just around the corner.  I have the house to decorate.  I have shopping to do.  I have cards to write.  I would like to do some baking (I think!).  All of this seems to be too much when I think of the housework that is piling up.

Now, I remember why I retired.  I loved my profession when I left it.  I still do.  I love working, but I really like not having the stress that comes from having to keep up with the other matters of life while one is working.

The semester is nearly over.  My short venture back into the working world of the classroom has benefited me in many ways, but I have not enjoyed feeling like I can not keep up.  One blogger friend calls her blog "A Slower Pace."  That is where I am in life.  I like keeping a slower pace, or perhaps I just like being the one who sets the pace rather than being restricted by a work schedule.  Self knowledge is always a good thing to have.

One last thing - Please check out my son's blog.  He has a very interesting post recounting his experience as a rickshaw drive for a day in Bangladesh.   When I think of how others in the world must make a living, I am quite ashamed of complaining about not being able to keep up with my life that is filled with so many luxuries.