Retirement is a wonderful deserved ending to a job well done. Most people work for this day most of their lives, socking away some extra cash and daydreaming of what will be.
On the other hand – if your partner is on the retirement end and you’re still in the workforce, as in mine and H’s case, it could be a nightmare. Your plans may not coincide with his or vice versa.
I’ve spent hours daydreaming of what H would be able to do when he finally retired, as in yard cleaning, home renovations, and help with the house-hold chores. Of course some of my time would be freed up also. No more unpaid secretarial duties to the band director. No more putting in long hours to help out the band at ballgames, marching festivals, and fundraisers. No more late night drives from the school to the house after out-of-town games. I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
H has spent those same hours daydreaming with visions of staying up late while binge watching Breaking Bad, no 5:30 am alarm going off, and carefree days of lunches out at our favorite restaurants running through his head.
I work from home and now my work load has doubled. There is no more exercise routine of walking five miles in the mornings while listening to another audio book because that’s about the only way I can devour a book these days. No more time to sit and relax that last hour before he arrives back home. There is more laundry and more cooking and more making it look like I have been busy some days when really I haven’t.
On the plus side we did purchase bicycles and intend to bike together every day for exercise. My idea is to get up early and head out before the sun takes over. His idea is to sleep late and then interrupt my train of thought while sewing, or my writing process at any given moment with, “When you get to a stopping point we need to go for a ride.” Sun or no sun.
Before retirement he jaunted off to work each morning after a bowl of cereal, grabbing his coffee and a packaged cinnamon bun or piece of fruit to snack on later. I may or may not have eaten breakfast and lunch was usually done at my desk or on the run if done at all.
I gave the house a quick once-over, did a load of laundry, straightened the clutter on the coffee table and thought of it no more until the next morning. When he arrived home after afternoon band rehearsals he was usually too tired to mess up. Now I see how messy he can be.
The coffee is now brewing no matter what time of the morning it is and the smell of bacon permeates my hair and kitchen as though I was a short order cook. Breakfast is done no matter what time he arises and then lunch and dinner in that order. I keep telling myself it’s the least I can do to make the transition as easy as possible for him. He had worked hard providing for us in the earlier years.
Throughout the day interruptions are of the norm as his cell phone rings mine from one end of the house to the other. This proved to be his new intercom system. I could see it if we lived in a three-story mansion, but we only have 1045 square feet of house!
He summons me for a trip to Lowes, Home Depot, or the grocery store. The lists I painstakingly write out are seldom taken seriously so I must put down my work and accompany him lest we wind up with louvered doors for the closets instead of solid and a cabinet full of cookies and sardines for dinner.
Where I once enjoyed a night out for dinner and a movie, I now would rather stay in and catch up on my work while he reclined happily in his chair in front of the TV.
Yes, I know he is probably shell-shocked and adjusting. I feel I must help any way I can while trying to wean him away from this predicament. His inner time clock is out of whack and he’s never had so much free time on his hands. To him, every day is a weekend. I never knew him to be so attached. There are no lack of projects around here he can work on – that outside storage shed being number one on the list.
I’m adjusting too. Where’s my help? I’m not retired. I’m still working for a paycheck. There are no little elves showing up for the midnight shift to get my work done in time for the deadline.
I need to learn to say no. He needs to learn to not be so needy. It’s been almost two months. Time to find our respective corners.