Tales of Retirement
By Ruth Morris
Early Childhood Educator
Retired June 2016
I started considering retirement when I discovered that I had trouble reading upside down. As a teacher of four- and five-year-olds, I would sit on a tiny chair with my class facing me. The book faced them. As I struggled to find that sweet spot in my bifocals, I thought about the other issues I’d been having at work, like getting into and out of the teeny tiny chairs and the exhaustion I felt every day after class was over. I think I needed a nap time more than the children in my class! For me, the clincher came when my oldest daughter announced that she was pregnant. I knew that I wanted to take an active role in my granddaughter’s care when my daughter returned to her job, but I also knew that I couldn’t do both things. Fortunately, my husband and I were at a place in our lives where I could choose to retire, and so, at the end of the school year, I did. My granddaughter was born two days later.
I taught at the same preschool for 24 years. I am still a part of it. Occasionally, I substitute teach there. I also volunteer as a storyteller in my class from time to time. A teacher I mentored continues to seek advice from me. I have been friends with several of the teachers there, both past and present, and I continue to be in touch with them. Right now, this all feels like a comfortable level of involvement.
It is the small, enjoyable things that let me know I’ve retired. I love being able to read in bed for a few minutes in the morning before joining my husband for breakfast. I enjoy not rushing to be at work by 8 a.m., cheerful if it kills me! On the days that I am not caring for my grandchild, I get to do complicated baking and sewing projects that I never had time for in the past. I go for walks in parks and on trails with my neighbours and other friends. Once in a while, I even clean the house. I can go away for a long weekend without worrying about clearing my absence or getting a substitute teacher.
My granddaughter just turned six months old. Seeing her develop reminds me of all that I have forgotten since my own children were babies. The secrets of the world are being revealed to her, and I get to watch and participate. Being around young children, with their energy, curiosity and enthusiasm for life gives me the positive energy I seek in my own life. An additional bonus in all this is that my relationship with my daughter has also grown stronger and more mature. Beginning in February, I will be with my granddaughter three days a week. I think it will be a lot of fun, but I think that her nap time will also become mine. Babies are a lot of work!
I have been thinking of other things that I would enjoy doing in the future. I dream about writing a book for young children; inspiration has yet to come to me. I would also like to work with an adult literacy program, teaching adults how to read. As my granddaughter segues into toddlerhood, there may be more time for me to do activities like these.
With my retirement, I feel that I can be open to many new things. It is a beginning, rather than the end of something.