Last week, I called an old friend. She lost her husband very suddenly two months ago, and after more than two decades of little contact beyond Christmas cards, we’ve managed several phone calls and visits in the short space of time since her terrible loss. As it turns out, my timing was good - very good, in fact - and as I hung up the phone, I realized it was timing I never could have pulled off had I still been working.
Two days later, I got an email from another friend who had retired several years ago, sharing a loss of her own. I immediately sat down and replied - something I might not have been able to do had I still been working. I’d have wanted to, but something - laundry, an appointment, a Saturday morning chore - might have pulled me away. I’d have meant to return the e-mail later, and perhaps I could have pulled it off - but the immediacy would have been gone, and with it, the opportunity to reach out to her when she needed it most.
When I thought about leaving the professional home I’d carved out for myself over the last nineteen years, the thing that made me the saddest was leaving my colleagues. Yes, I would miss the kids - but the teachers I worked with are the absolute best, and I knew they’d take care of the kids.
I wondered who would take care of my teachers. Over the years, my open door had evolved into a revolving door, one we used to keep in frequent contact as we took care of each other, shared stories and boosted one another’s spirits. My colleagues became my friends, and entrusted me with their own stories, coming to me for advice about not just their students, but about their own kids as well. It was a blessing to be entrusted with such important things, and I couldn’t imagine not being there every day to get the updates.
Last week, for the first time, I bought into the concept that maybe there are others I’m supposed to be available for. Silly, really, since one of the reasons I retired was to be more available to my family - but they weren’t really feeling a deficit. They remain my priority - I’ve waited almost fifteen years to be a stay-at-home mom, and I don’t intend to neglect that job - but perhaps as my available time expands, it’s time for my circle to expand as well.
Every house has a door, so why can’t mine be revolving?