It’s 6:20 am and my first alarm starts, the sound of birds chirping. I hate those damn birds. I silence them immediately.
Over the next thirty minutes, two more alarms go off, both songs that my husband, Tony, hates now that they’ve disturbed his sleep every morning for years. It’s generally 6:50 am before I’m finally on my way out of the bedroom. As you can probably see, I’m not a morning person.
Next I wake my almost-five-year-old Lincoln for pre-school. He is about as cooperative as I am in the morning, and I end up getting him dressed while he works on perfecting the art of sleeping on his feet. (I’m a bit envious of this skill, in all honesty.)
By the time he’s dressed, Tony is up and has made him breakfast. As Lincoln heads to the table, I go and get ready. Then, I’m out the door between 7:20 am and 7:30 am, with a goodbye kiss from my guys and a portable breakfast in my hand.
It’s close to six when I get home. Lincoln greets me at the door, one of my favorite moments of the day. He throws himself at me in a hug and says, “Hi, Mommy, you home! I missed you. How was work?”
Tony owns his own company, a jewelry industry-specific recruiting company, and works from home. When I get home, he locks himself in his office and gets busy while I make dinners. One for Tony and me. One for my super-picky child, who literally eats only around a dozen things – most of them only if there is cheese on top (he really is the child of a cheese head.)
Lincoln goes to bed at 8:30 pm. While I’m putting out clothing for Lincoln and me, and packing my lunch for the next day, I listen in to Lincoln and Tony reading a bedtime story together.
Then, I get a shower. As you might imagine, morning showers do not work for me. I once climbed into the shower in my pajamas, tried to wash my hair with toothpaste, and accidently wrapped my hair in a pair of pants instead of a towel. I wisely gave up on the idea. After my shower, I take a little time for me, and read, write or edit for an hour or two. If there’s time Tony and I catch watch a show or we play a video game together.
We’re in bed by 10:30 pm almost every night, generally exhausted. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
When the weekend comes, I constantly feel like we’re playing catch up. I can’t wait for the days when I can assign Lincoln chores like vacuuming, putting away laundry, and the dreaded dishes!
When Brad asked me to write about what retirement would look like for me, I can honestly say I had no clue. I’m close to forty, my husband just over. I haven’t given a lot of thought to what retirement would look like for me. It feels like a long way off.
Work has been such a huge part of my life. To think about what life would be like without it is a little frightening. It’s honestly one of the reasons I haven’t thought much about what retirement would look like for me. I have worked continuously since fifteen. I don’t honestly know how not to work. For the most part, I like working. I like interacting with people through work.
I don’t think I’d want to give up working entirely. That’s not what retirement would look like for me.
After I became a mom, going to work every day was my escape back to adulthood. My chance for conversations that didn’t revolve around how much the baby ate, slept, or pooped. I still see work as a little bit of an escape.
When we have one of those mornings, where Lincoln is pushing all my buttons and stretching my patience with his fournado-ness, I’m happy to get in the car and escape. Its days like those that make me realize two things: my husband is an amazing father and an honest-to-goodness saint, and that work is my sanity.
If I’m being honest, not working would actual mean working less, that’s what retirement would look like for me. More free time would be a big motivator in what retirement would look like for me. Like everyone else, I often have to choose between leisure activities I enjoy, because there isn’t time for them all. Often, the time I spend reading or writing, takes away from time with my husband and son. Just as work takes away from time with my family and my leisure activities. Working less would help that balance.
I’d also love to start later in the day. If I could manage to work three days a week, I think I’d be happy. But if I didn’t work somewhere, I’d have to find something else to occupy my time.
If I have grandchildren, I would want to help my son and his partner care for them. I love that my mom watches my son, hopefully I’ll be granted the chance to do the same. If not, then I’d have to find a part time job or a time-consuming hobby. My mom became treasurer of her homeowners association after retirement. My dad started doing major home repair for family, and he took up golf.
Tony and I aren’t big travelers, but we do like to go visit family three or four times a year. I can’t imagine that changing much. More than likely, we’d just stay for longer than our normal three-day weekend.
I’d want to live in a condo, or somewhere that no one has to shovel snow or mow the lawn. I’d love to be somewhere warmer; I have always been fond of Arizona.
We would live frugally, like we do now. We cut off cable a while ago, we don’t buy anything we can’t pay for, and I cook most nights. I don’t think any of that would change.
Ultimately, retirement is still a ways off for me. I acknowledge that what retirement would look like for me can, and probably, will change in that time. For now, the only thing that is certain is that I don’t want to be bored.
What retirement would look like for me would mostly mean freedom from my alarm clock, and more free time. But, in my opinion, free time only has value compared to something else. If every moment of every day was free time, it wouldn’t mean the same and I’m afraid it would lose its value. Retirement, to me, would be about finding a balance between staying busy – doing something I enjoy – and still appreciating my down time. I’ve got time to figure it out, and I certainly work in the right place to help me create whatever retirement vision I want, within reason.