So the final days have come and gone and I am feeling strangely calm after a whirlwind of emotion. What lies in store, I do not know. At what point will it kick in that I’m really retired, and how will that knowledge affect me – it’s hard to say. I suspect I’m in for an interesting ride over the next 6-8 months so I’d better fasten my seat belt and hold on tight!
Leaving at the end of March was an interesting way to finish my career. Most teachers leave at the end of the June, although some choose to retire at the end of a term. I was very close to the end of a term, given that Spring Break was most of the last two weeks of March, but I chose to work right until the 31st, which meant coming back for 3 days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) after Spring Break. Quite frankly, I did that because I needed the money. Missing three days of pay was the equivalent of my flight to Europe. And working Friday, April 1, would mean I’d miss my pension cheque for the entire month of April. So March 31 it was.
It actually worked out quite nicely too. I had all of our two week Spring Break to come into the school to pack up 24 years of teaching materials etc at my leisure. I was able to meet with the new teacher and do some planning with her as she takes over my class. And I had three days with my class to look forward to after the break, ending with my retirement party on Friday, April 1st.
My kids and I enjoyed those 3 days. The new teacher came in on the Tuesday and we took turns teaching that day. I had the kids to myself on Wednesday and Thursday so we had time for fun and to say our goodbyes. The school held an assembly for me on the last day and the kids sang me two songs that they and the music teacher had worked on for two weeks. It was so cute. We all got a little emotional at the end but I think of them as tears of love and I feel confident in my belief that the kids will adjust quickly to the new teacher once I’m gone.
My party on Friday was amazing. We held it at a local restaurant where Erik and I were married 9 years ago, and there was a tremendous turnout of about 50 people. I was overwhelmed and appreciative that I have so many people I can call friends. What a wonderful feeling! The staff gave me a beautiful necklace and bracelet, and did a hilarious “Top Ten Reasons Why Barb Should Retire” as well as 10 reasons why I shouldn’t. I was nervous at the prospect of having to speak at the end, but once I looked around the room at all those familiar faces, I felt confident, and I managed to get through my thank you’s with only a few tears.
Afterwards, a group of friends came back to my house and we enjoyed some wine and laughter into the evening. What an amazing day – I could not have asked for a more perfect ending to my career!
It was an odd feeling on Sunday night, not having to pack my lunch or think about what to wear to work the next day. On Monday, we went out shopping in the middle of the morning, I had a massage in the afternoon – I think I could get used to this!
I know there are going to be many things I miss about retiring early – especially from a job I have loved so much. I’m going to miss the hugs and smiles of 8 year olds and the laughter of the staff room most of all. I feel so lucky to be staying contact with two special groups of women, who were at first colleagues, but who I have come to call friends. Knowing that those relationships will not be lost, makes it bearable to step aside from teaching now.
And so the next chapter of my life begins. And if family genes have any say in the matter – I could quite possibly look forward to at least 35 years of retirement! Oh the possibilities!