Retired or Semi-Retired?
The other day on my Tuesday outing at Barnes and Noble, I talked to a lady whom I introduced myself to a couple of weeks ago. She is there every Tuesday just like me. The day I introduced myself to her I asked her if she comes there every Tuesday. She said she goes there almost every DAY! When I see her, she is never eating anything, just drinking coffee. She never has a book, but she is always reading some type of magazine, and usually has several on the table. I’ve never seen what kind of magazine. So I don’t know what she’s interested in. And she occasionally says “hi” to some of the other older folk I see come there every Tuesday. Her name is Bonnie.
This week I went to Target to get some stuff before I went to Barnes and Noble. So by the time I arrived, the only place to sit in the café was at a tiny table right next to the tiny table Bonnie was sitting at. I thought, “Hmmm…this is a chance to try and get to know her a little. And no, I’m not a stalker!! It has been a long time since I really just sat and tried to strike up a conversation with a stranger. I used to do it with ease in college when I was in my 30’s and going through some tough things at the time. That’s how I met my husband! 🙂 Anyway, I wasn’t feeling really well on Tuesday, so I was hesitant to sit too close to her. I wasn’t hacking or sneezing, just feeling run down. But I sat down anyway.
I decided to ask her, “So you come here every day?” She said, “Yeah,” and gave a half smile. I said, “So are you retired?” hoping she might offer to talk about past work she may have done. She said, “Yes.” There was a break in conversation again. Then she asked me, “So are you retired?” My first thought was, “Do I look that old? I know my hair is all gray (hers is colored), but geez!” I have to say I was taken aback by that question. I honestly didn’t have an answer! I hesitated a bit and then I said, “Well, semi-retired maybe?” We both laughed. Then I told her about where I live (a 45 minute drive out of town), my husband’s job, and having been homeschooling my kids for the past eight years. I told her I taught preschool for a few months when we were first married and then again when our kids were in Kindergarten and 2nd grades. But it was too much at the time traveling back and forth and being gone the whole day while they were in school and then trying to get everything done at home in the evenings. (It made me tired just thinking about that year of my life!) It was a very quick conversation. She started closing her magazine and looked at her watch. I asked her if she had been there long. She said she had been there since 9:00 (when they opened). It was already after 10:00. Then I told her I was late because of shopping at Target. She said, “It was nice talking to you.” I said, “It was nice talking to you, too.” Then she left.
My first thought was, Did my jabbering drive her away? Then, No. She said she’d already been here since 9:00. She must have somewhere else to be! Well, hopefully, that’s why she left.
Personally, from her body language, I would venture to say she doesn’t feel too comfortable talking with people. She didn’t mention a family or husband. Her left ring finger was not wearing a wedding ring, but I realize this doesn’t necessarily mean she is not married or in a relationship. I don’t wear my wedding ring at home, because I don’t like getting gunk on it when I’m doing art (or housework which I sometimes do.) :0 Our kids’ chores are dishes and garbage and whatever else we throw at them. But I mainly do all the laundry and clean the bathroom when it needs it. I haven’t been much of a fanatic when it comes to housecleaning over the years. I’d rather spend my time creating art, playing music and just hanging out with my family. I definitely like things clutter-free and the end tables cleaned off enough to be able to put a drink down. But that’s about the extent of it. I do clean more if we are having a guest over; that’s a given! The kids always ask me why I do that, and I say, “I don’t know. It just seems like the polite thing to do!”
So where was I going with all this anyway? Oh yeah! I have been doing a lot of thinking about WHY I CHOSE TO STAY HOME to raise my children and not to try and juggle a paying job into that mix.
First, I could! Sure it has been hard financially, but for us, because of where we live, traveling to a job every day would take half my paycheck in gas. In the long run, it wasn’t worth it. Private school was paid for by my parents, but they weren’t going to live forever!
Second, I wanted to. My mom was able to stay home with us (even though we went to public school) until I was 12. Then she worked part-time jobs here and there. When she had to go to work full-time when I was 16, I missed her like crazy when I got home from school! We were close. And several years back when I took an art class in the evenings, my daughter missed me like crazy on those two nights a week. (That felt good, by the way.)
Third, we made the decision to homeschool the kids. Well, George did; I just went along with it with a push from God. 🙂 So that took up all my free time in the early years. It doesn’t now, because they are almost done and they work mostly on their own and are in some classes with other homeschooled kids and a different teacher. It’s a pretty cool set-up paying her to teach them subjects I would not be well-versed at. Plus, they’ve made some great friends. But the early years were tough for me even though I wouldn’t trade those memories for a million dollars!
Lastly, and the main reason I decided to be a stay-at-home mom/teacher and all the other occupations mixed in like nurse, cabbie, cook, housekeeper, etc., is because it was God’s will for my life. I believe it is one of the things He gifted me to do. He gave me an awesome husband and two children to nurture, love and pour myself into. And that is what has been right for me all these years. But these years are fast coming to a close. So now I am asking myself what I’m going to be doing when they are in college?
Maybe that’s when I’ll answer Bonnie in a few years and say “Whew! I AM RETIRED!” Or maybe not. I think I still have a lot to offer others. It’s going to be an adventure to see what God unfolds for me in the years to come. There’s always more art and writing to do!
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Have a great day and give someone you love a big HUG!