A post came up in my memories today where I talked about how to define myself now that my role as a dad has changed. I wrote that post when my son was heading to college and my daughter was starting high school. A lot has happened over those four years.
My son has now graduated from college and is starting his first real job this week.
My daughter leaves for her second year of college on Friday.
I accepted a new position at my place of work and moved to a new branch.
My mom died(and thus my role as son has ended)
That’s a lot in four years. The job and mom thing were just a month or so apart.
I still struggle with the thought of what defines me. I’m still dad, but I go weeks without seeing my kids. I go to work, I go home, I read or watch TV and then I start all over again. I still don’t want to be a person who is defined by my job, especially since I’m not sure anyone respects my job or my ability to do it. Also, I will no longer be doing this job in six years or so. I don’t want to be that person who struggles with retirement because my life has been defined by the work I do. So, the question is where do I go from here?
I’m not sure I can answer that. After all, the original post is from four years ago. I’ve had four years to consider this and I’ve done nothing. Maybe the “defining” thing is the problem. Do I really need to worry about that? Maybe it’s time to just think about doing more fun things after work. I already plan to see a movie on my Fridays off at least once a month for the next couple of months. I need to go ahead and buy that ticket to the concert in DC next month even though my wife won’t go with me. I need to get out and go to DC, Baltimore, and Annapolis. I need to take day trips to other places further away. There’s no reason to wait for retirement to start doing these things.
I guess it’s time to stop worrying about how present me is defined and start working on becoming the future, man of leisure, me.
When I asked for suggestions on what to write recently, someone said I should write about what I would do when I retire. If I retire on the date I am eligible for full retirement, I will only be in my mid-50’s. I don’t plan to stay past that date and would retire earlier if I could. That means I will be retired a few years before my wife, so my plans will be different in the first part of retirement when she is still working. I’m going to write this as if I were able to quit my job today(a dream come true) as the plans would probably be similar.
I will admit that for the first few weeks I would probably do as little as possible. I would enjoy being home with no plans, read books, and watch TV. I would maybe do some small trips out to local places, but for the most part, I would just enjoy having no place I needed to be. Once that got too boring, I would move on to the next phase.
The next phase, especially since I would still be home alone, would be volunteer work. I’m not sure exactly where or how I would volunteer, but I would want to have something to do and I would want that something to make a difference. I would want to find a food bank, soup kitchen, something to help the homeless. I’ve always wished I was more available to go help with clean up and recovery efforts after natural disasters, so I might look to join groups that do that work. I would still take time to relax and do work around my own house, but I would want to make a difference.
I probably wouldn’t do much traveling while my wife is still working. I would probably take a few more trips to Kentucky to see family(until they got sick of me). I would spend more time exploring sites in DC/Baltimore that I never take the time to see now. Of course, if the kids have moved away at that point, I would spend time going to see them. The big travel would wait a few years until we are both retired.
Once we are both retired, I hope we will do more big trips. There are still a lot of places in the US I haven’t seen. I would like to do more road trips to see more of the country. If the kids are not living in Maryland, I would probably try to convince my wife to move. The location would be dependant on where my kids are living. I wouldn’t want to be too far from them. I’ve done the “live hundreds of miles away from family” thing and I don’t like it.
So, there you have it. My retirement plans. I would like to start today.
I took the day off on Tuesday. It was in the middle of what would have been my 7 day stretch at work. I’m old, tired and a little burned out and couldn’t deal with the thought of 7 days of work with no break. So, I did what I needed and took a break. This is unusual for me. I rarely just take a day off. I take vacations. I take time off at Christmas to spend time with family in Kentucky. I just don’t take time off otherwise. I rarely even call in sick. This time, though, I finally listened to my gut and took the day.
The problem with taking the day, though, is that it gave me a taste of what retirement will be. I had a day with nowhere I had to be. I went out in the morning to get gas and breakfast. I did a load of laundry. I did dishes. I watched DVR’ed TV shows. I went to the local library to return some books and for my daughter to browse. We watched a movie. It was a good day. Unfortunately, no one will pay me to stay at home, watch TV and post mediocre blog posts, so I have 7 years before this can be my normal life.
People think I’m weird for wanting to retire so early. They think I will be too young to retire when my actual retirement date arrives. I think I would rather retire when I am still young enough to enjoy it. I also feel like it is easier to retire when your identity is not completely tied in to your career. I generally like my job, but I don’t really feel like the essence of me is tied in to being a librarian. I could be a substitute teacher(and work only when I want to) and be just as content as I am now(am I ever content?) I would be happy to be home cleaning bathrooms and other housework all day.
I think it is more a “I don’t want anyone else to control my time” thing. I want to do something I enjoy without someone watching over me. I want to start and end when I want. I want to be in control of my own time. Since the odds of finding a job like that is low, I look ahead to retirement. Until that happens, I will need to learn to take a few more days for myself.
Only the second day of the month and I already have no clue where I’m going with the posts this month. I blame everyone who read yesterday’s post and didn’t give me a suggestion or ask a question. THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!
I am one of the lucky people who got an email from Panera that I have a free bagel every day this month, so I stopped on the way to work and sat for a little bit, eating the free bagel, drinking coffee and reading a book. Every time I do this – or sit there for a while on my day off – I think about how nice it would be to be the people who are there with their laptops, working and drinking coffee. I want a job that allows me to work from Panera while drinking coffee. Why won’t someone pay me to drink coffee at Panera while writing mediocre blog posts? Why won’t someone pay me to read books and watch TV? I want answers!
I’m also jealous of the retirees who gather every Friday at Panera. If I can’t have the above job, I want to retire early and go to Panera and have coffee mid-morning if I feel like it. Why can’t I retire early? It’s not fair!
So, basically, going to Panera makes me sad about the fact that I have a job and it is one that requires me to leave the house. Maybe I should stop going.
I’m still struggling to finish a blog post. I either discover I don’t have a lot to say, or what I am saying is too boring or whiny for me to post. So, I will bore you with some stuff from my life over the last couple of weeks.
I went to a pre-retirement planning seminar. I’m still a little less than 8 years away from being eligible to retire, but I wanted to go just to get an idea of what to be thinking about over those years. Unfortunately, I did not find a loophole that will allow me to retire early, so I guess I need stop thinking about it for a while so I don’t get depressed.
We went to our last back to school night ever this week. It was a nice, short night because my daughter has a partial schedule. While I’m not looking forward to both of my kids being gone, I am looking forward to being done with the public school system. There’s already so much drama from the school about students not being where they are supposed to be during “pride period”(a time to go to clubs or get academic help from teachers). I agree with my kid. If they would just punish the kids not doing the right thing there wouldn’t be such a problem. I have never agreed with punishing the collective due to the actions of a few.
I finally finished the book that ended good reading streak. The next book I read, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, was very good and got me back to where I wanted to read constantly. Now I’m done and hoping the next book won’t slow me down again. I probably need to take a break between my assigned books. They all seem to have death in them. That can be tough.
Finally, we are one week away from the trip to the Philippines. I’m not looking forward to 24 hours on planes and in airports, but I’m sure the experience will be worth it.
This weekend was the first weekend in a while where I was actually able to relax. To make it even better, it was a four day weekend. I didn’t do anything exciting. On my birthday leave day on Friday I went out and got some free food from Panera and Dickey’s and watched a movie on DVD. Saturday was so uneventful all I remember is that I took the dog for a walk and watched a basketball game. Sunday I went to church and out to eat with the family for a late birthday celebration. Yesterday I spent hour scanning pictures from 2001. Even so, the four days off makes it really hard to think about heading out in a few minutes to reenter the real world.
I don’t hate my job. I don’t hate working. I’ve just reached the point in my life when I am ready to move on from the career and to the retirement phase of life. I would even take the ability to work from home. Actually, I think I’ve always been at this point. I would have gladly been a stay at home dad if it had been feasible for our family. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never been a career focused person. I do my job to the best of my ability and I do apply for new jobs/promotions when they come up, but I’ve always been someone who would quit to stay at home if given the opportunity. I think this got more pronounced toward the end of my time at the jail. Corrections has a 20 year retirement, so I spent the last few years of my time at the jail watching people I worked with retire knowing that I still had 10-15 years left. I’m closer now, but not close enough.
So, I head back to work today but I would much rather be one of the people who have the ability to spend their morning with friends at Panera instead of heading off to another day at the job. Reentry is hard.