Next year, after more than three decades, I will be retired from teaching school. It’s an understatement to say I’m looking forward to it. I won’t substitute, tutor or volunteer in the classroom. I will be done. I want to live differently. I want to play with my grandson and go out to breakfast with my husband. I want to travel to exotic locations during a season that isn’t summer. I want to attend concerts on school nights and visit museums on school days. I want to be a full-time writer without a day job.
I’ve known women whose lives were more chaotic than mine, but I still have no idea how I managed the job, the children, the husband, the house, a book or two a year and a weekly newspaper column. Someone once told me that people can only handle three major roles in life with any degree of quality. Something has to give. I certainly hope it wasn't the children-probably not-they turned out remarkably well, as did the day job and the newspaper column. Clearly the husband was a casualty. We divorced after 26 years, but the eventual peace was worth the severing of the marriage.
It was probably the books that suffered, not so much the quality although some were definitely better than others, but the career end of it, the marketing, the website, the newsletters, the advertising, the connection with the writing community that comes with participation. I didn’t do that. It was the networking that ended up on the back burner.
People ask why I didn’t scale down, give up the day job, put all my efforts into writing. Lack of confidence, I suppose, as well as the necessity of a monthly paycheck. The mortgage needed paying, kids needed braces, lessons, clothes, medical, etc. My income was never optional and teaching school was a lovely way to spend my days and earn that
But now it’s time. I turned 60 in March. I look forward to the rest of my life, to writing in the daylight, to slowing my pace, to no longer timing my bathroom breaks to a recess schedule. I no longer want or need to “have it all.”