A strange thing happened last Friday, less than an hour after leaving work for the final time my watch stopped! I couldn’t believe it! It had been working fine, I’d never had a problem with it, but at exactly 1:15 PM, it simply stopped working. Pretty weird huh? I viewed it as a sign that my working days were over and I no longer had to live by the clock. And for the most part I don’t!
Yes, it’s official, last Friday was my final day on the job. I am no longer employed by the Azusa Unified School District. That’s right my high school counselor days are now behind me. No more apathetic students, upset parents, pleading teachers or administrators, no more WASC, conferences, staff meetings, committees or student supervision, no more grad evaluations, college apps, letters of recommendation or hold letters, no more Back to School Night, Report Card Night, AP Testing, attendance or exit exams, no more class scheduling, interventions, or non grads! Yeah, it’s all come to a screeching halt, swallowed up by the past. I am now just another out of work baby-boomer, I’m retired!
Everyone’s asking me “How does it feel?” Truthfully it doesn’t feel any different, at least not yet. Right now, except for the fact that my office is empty, it feels like I’m simply beginning another eight week summer break. I suppose the reality of retirement will hit me in mid August when I would normally be returning to work to begin the new school year. After 27 years that will definitely be strange! Will it take any getting used to? I highly doubt it. It will be kinda strange not having to get up and go to work every morning and not having to play the “should I take the freeway game?” but I think I can handle it. Yeah I definitely won’t miss all the crazy, rude and inconsiderate commuters I shared the road with each day, but then who am I to complain, I only drive – check that I only used to drive 6.5 miles to work which is nothing compared to those poor souls who are on the road for 30 or 40 miles or more everyday, one way! I’m sure retirement cant come soon enough for them.
Although there are definitely things I will not miss at all while being retired, there are a number of things I will sorely miss. Through the years I have formed some incredible relationships with my co-workers in the Guidance Office. Not have we become friends and learned to work well together but we have become family, they mean the world to me. No longer seeing them daily and sharing that feeling of camaraderie that exists between us will be tough. We have developed relationships built on mutual trust and understanding and genuinely care about one another. Although I know we will keep in touch, not being their to share life with them will take a lot of getting use to.
And I will miss the students because, after all, isn’t that what our jobs in education all about? Certainly there are some students who know how to push our buttons and enjoy doing so, but I will miss even those students. I have come to view the students as my own, they are my kids. When they fail I fail as well, and when they are successful so am I. I have never once regretted my decision to teach and then to counsel. Although some people thought it was a poor decision at the time, and more money could have been made elsewhere, I’m glad I stuck with it.
As most of us know it’s not about the money. no one becomes a teacher to get rich at least not monetarily. Our riches and rewards come from our students and their accomplishments. The warm fuzzies you get from helping children is far greater than a big paycheck. I will miss my kids, I will miss talking, laughing and crying with them, encouraging them, advising them and even consoling them. I will miss listening to their hopes, dreams and plans for the future, I will miss simply being there for them and giving them a place where they could be heard or come to for a little time out when the pressures of school or home became too great. I will miss trying to be the type of counselor I never had in high school and hope that I made a difference for my kids.
Yes retirement is certainly bittersweet. I happily look forward to what now lies ahead of me and all that retirement has to offer, but I’m sad for what one must leave behind in the process. A friend, after sensing my sadness, told me that I shouldn’t view retirement as the end of anything, but as a new beginning, a new chapter in my life story. I know this to be true, but leaving the life you’ve known for so long behind and moving on is a difficult thing to do. How will I ever get used to living in the land of retirement – where everyday is a Saturday? Somehow I think I’ll manage…
Just a Thought…