I've been thinking a lot about aging lately. I see myself as having crested the hill and moving on down to the end. I see these young, energetic people on TV and remember those days - almost miss those days. Then I move to me today - and there are many positives to be older too.
When we are young we have so much potential and so many dreams. Our focus is on planning for the future and starting our families. We spend most of our time making a living and planning our path to our destination. The journey changes and takes a few side trips and we adjust our plans.
In my twenties I thought alot about who I would marry - would I marry? How many children would I have? And I thought about what I wanted to do. I loved children and started working as a preschool teacher. I really had no thought about where it would take me or what the future would hold. I was simply living in the day.
I met my husband in my late twenties and was married at 28. I also found out around that time that I was unlikely to be able to conceive a child. I had severe endometriosis and a lot of scar tissue. But my husband has three fabulous children and I love them dearly. I've grown extremely close to my youngest step-daughter and am grateful for her mom's attitude. She once told me she could not have chosen a better step-mom for her kids. I considered that an honor. And my daughter calls me her "bonus mom".
As I moved through my 30s and 40s, I worked. I moved from preschool teacher to center director - and loved every step of the way. In my 50s I was told if I didn't get my degree, I'd eventually lose my job as it was becoming a requirement. So in my 50s I returned to college.
I worked really hard, working full time and completing a bachelor's degree. (And I still got laid off) Then I decided to go further. I got my Master's degree thinking now I would find a job that would help pay for my retirement. A little late to start thinking about that, but I had hopes. Writing that thesis was the very long and tiring year!
By my 60s I was getting tired. I never got that better paying job. And I have student loans to pay now. Not something I ever considered for my old age. And now I was thinking more about retirement. The days seemed longer at work and shorter on days off. And then there was covid.
When covid hit our center closed for a couple months. When they reopened my husband's doctor recommend I continue to stay home and not expose him to anything. His health was pretty bad at the time. So I stayed at home.
The place I was working was not the best place to be. The executive director was a serious micromanager that really had no idea what a good child development center was - she never attended any of the health department's covid meetings and argued with me what we should or should not do. When we first reopened, (supposed to be a week without kids there to prepare) she expected our staff to work the first day with no water - no handwashing, no bathroom, no cleaning. I sent the team home and called the city to find out why the water was not back on. I was told by the ED they were notified on Friday morning and this was Monday. The truth was - they were not notified until Monday morning. The ED was not happy with me. This was in May. I worked two more days (without pay).
After I notified the owner I could not go back yet, but would continue to do what I could from home. I was told I could not continue to work from home as I had been. All my access to emails and websites was revoked and by November I was let go. Even though my husband's doctor had released him for December, they said they could wait no longer. I believe the reality was the ED did not like my push back.
So here I am, not quite 66 and unemployed. I had planned on working to 68, but now I had to make a decision. I continued to apply for work for almost another year - but not even an interview. The reality of my age was crystal clear. No one wants to hire someone that's near retirement age. I had no choice but to retire early. And so it was official on September 1, 2021.
It all sounds like a very sad story, but the truth is, I love retirement! We may not have the financial stability I had hoped for, but we are comfortable and able to still do most of the things we want. My time is mine. Which brings me back to the start of this post.
Every age has its positives and negatives.
When we are young and building our lives. there is so much to do and fun to be had. But we have to be working full time. It can be exhausting. We build our lives around our work schedule. But there is so much hope and so many aspirations ahead of us.
As we get older and retire, we have more freedom. We can do pretty much what we want when we want. We may move slower - and stiffer - but no problem! We just slow down. No need to hurry. There are very few schedules to follow. But our time is limited. The end of the road is rapidly approaching.
But aging also gives me a deeper perspective. I realize how important every moment is. I find myself being immersed in the beauty around me, letting it wash my consciousness.
So enjoy every step of the journey. We have only one. Pay attention to the side trips and revel in the joy of every moment. I am content.