Retired. The word itself conjures up images of books being read, lazy afternoons, lunches with girl-friends, or peaceful walks on a beach. It speaks in deeply rested breathes and an overwhelming joy that “every day is now Saturday”.
Or does it…
Though I have stepped back from my career, I haven’t stepped away from my calling – to serve.
Before I was an educator, I became a wife and not just any wife. A wife to Big Joe, my favorite over-grown eighth-grader whose first love - if we are keeping it real – is ball. So, thirty years later, he is still chasing after his gridiron dreams with me in tow – and I am still running after him.
Starting Over After Retirement
If you are doing the math, using context clues and what not – you have surmised that coach and I have spent a little over half a century on this earth and believe it or not – we just started over in a brand-new community, a brand-new school in a brand-new state.
“It will be an adventure!”
“We are still young enough to do this!”
“WE ARE SO EXCITED!”
You would think that after thirty years and at least 15 moves, (I lost count a long time ago.) we would have anticipated the challenges a move
like this brings. I guess the reward of the schools we have served and the folks that have loved us has given us amnesia about the amount of work ‘starting over’ really requires.
It is like child-birth – a truckload of pain for a lifetime of love. Punch-drunk on the adrenaline of starting over, we have run head-first into a brick wall of new people, new vocabularies, and new expectations.
For the first time in 38 years, I am not working outside of the home. However, I am busting my tail getting coach ready, out the door, prepared, and believing in himself. I told him just the other day, “You know, you are kind of like a full-time job.” The amount of “new” has us both scrambling for some ground that isn’t moving.
So, my retired is more RE- tired; I am just a whole different kind of tired. And yet, I'm so content.
My house sits so still and I enter my third decade as a #fridaynightwife. I can hear the individual clicks of the ceiling fans creating an off-beat rhythm. I hear the dishwasher change cycles.
Gone are the days of making a game out of bath time, as I was the only adult home. So are the days of homework and chores and monitoring cell phone time. Of arguing with a fiery-redhead too smart and sassy for her own good… of bargaining and cajoling the boy to either eat a vegetable or fruit...of being the lone referee between two headstrong offspring.
Gone are the nights when I piled the freshly bathed cherubs adorned in their footed pajamas and drove them to the field to say goodnight to their daddy.
My Present Reality After Retiring
Instead, here are the days of listening to father and son – now both adults (well-at least in chronological age) who banter about the Yankee’s lineup and the unforeseeable future of the Big XII
Here are the days of preparing three meals for my coach each day and nagging him about his blood pressure. Here are the days of studying a new learning management system so I can ease the amount of new my sweet man has to ingest and nights - listening to him relate the day's events.
These are still the days where I create bulletin boards for his classroom, where I meet my coach’s players, learn names and jersey numbers so I can holler from atop the bleachers. Now an early morning/late afternoon trip to the coaches’ office to drop off something salty or sweet doesn’t involve just skidding in at the last minute in my heels and my nametag. Instead, with my hair in yesterday’s ponytail, I show up in shorts and flip flops, diet coke in hand. Too, these are still the days where he will text and say, “Can you help this kid with his essay?
Yes, these are still the days where my Sundays are full of preparing a family-style meal for “our boys” and listening to their laughter fill our old table in our new home.
Always, I wait for the motorized groaning of our garage door to tell me my man is finally home.
Retired – no, not quite. We stand on the shoulders of those who have coached before us and keep serving.
Blessed, we have five or six coaches and their wives who have mentored us on our journey. Each time we show up on their doorsteps, Mrs. Coach answers, and the door swings wide, bidding us, “Welcome - home.” After all, we always are home with our old coaches.
No, old coach’s wives don’t retire; we just re-pack, re-arm ourselves with God’s grace, a passion for what our men love, and a willingness to serve.