bravery

You! Out! A Retirement Story

By Teri Michaud

You know what’s rude? It’s when someone interrupts your lovely thoughts to put their two cents in.

“When are you getting married?”

“When are you getting pregnant?”

“When are you getting skinny?”

“When are you getting tattooed?”

None of your beeswax is my inner-mind, twelve-year-old answer. But we are so programmed to be nice, or at least civil, that we feel we must answer these questions sometimes.

This past September, two people approached me with rude comments about retiring. “I thought you retired!” I’m standing right here with a laptop and a lanyard ID, so no.

Then, “Wow! You are still teaching!?”

If Gary and I want to hop on the motorcycle and flee town, soon we can!

If Gary and I want to hop on the motorcycle and flee town, soon we can!

We are in a training seminar for TEACHERS, so again, nope. But I was secretly thinking about retiring this year. It needed to be a secret or people keep asking questions that they think are fair game.

As a Jam Program founding mother (along with my two daughters), I knew I had to be brave. We three had a lovely dinner recently and we spoke about me ending my 25+ year career. It’s been so great, teaching.

I’ll miss so much: the stories, the staff, the field trips, the students’ telling me their families’ traditions and the names of their dogs. The paycheck. Dressing up, hustling in the morning to be there by 7:00 am, trying to eat lunch in 17 minutes, adhering to schedules, syllabi, protocol, laws.

I will miss meeting former students, ten years later, who tell me they are going into teaching because of me, or that they still write, or run, or sing in musicals, because I was good to them, or for them.

I will miss meeting former students, ten years later, who tell me they are going into teaching because of me, or that they still write, or run, or sing in musicals, because I was good to them, or for them.

So why give it up?

I have a ton of energy, and I want to do something else. I also want to craft my own day. Going to lunch when I feel like it will be amazing. If Gary and I want to go skiing out west, we could go in the fall, when prices and crowds are down; not on school vacations. Another reason I am retiring is that I can. We have helped pay for college and weddings; paid off our cottage and home’s mortgages.

In terms of filling my time, I also work with Gary flipping houses, and I help out with Jam Program.

When I told my friends at work, their reactions were sweet. Two ladies cried. One laughingly said, “You bitch!”. My principal said he was depressed, and had “a hole in his heart” because I did so much for the school and with my students. A secretary wrote: “Noooooooooooo!”. They have touched my arm or hugged me or whispered, “I’m next” or “You are living the dream!”

I gotta be brave for what’s next.

Really, really, why I am retiring is this: I had a mean, old teacher when I was twelve years old. She was an old bag who hated her job and us students, snarling at us from her sloping shoes and frizzy hair. Nope.

That’s not for me. I want to leave teaching while I still love it. Besides, I gotta be brave for what’s next.

For my girls.