Four years later, things are different. I still worry about money -- but I know very few parents of high school seniors that aren't thinking about money. A lot of other things have changed, though -- nearly all for the better.
My daughter, who was finishing middle school when I made this decision, is now finishing high school, and on the cusp of changes of her own. In the intervening four years, I've gotten to spend much more time with her than I would have if I'd stayed where I was. I'm here every morning when she leaves for school, and accessible nearly every day after school. I'm around most days when she and her friends come by for lunch, and though I make myself scarce so they can have their privacy, I love that I'm here. When she leaves for college next fall, I'll expect that I'll treasure these four years even more than I do now.
My writing is an enormous part of my life, which came as a surprise to no one. When I shared my intention to retire, all of my colleagues asked me if I planned to write. I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a full-time writer -- I'm used to the stimulation and interaction teaching brings -- but I love that writing of some kind happens nearly every day in this no-longer-new lifestyle. While I've been blogging for close to a decade, I didn't blog regularly until I retired. Though I had two nonfiction books published while I was working, I didn't publish a novel until after I retired -- and then, I had two out within two years. The combination of writing and teaching fills -- and drains -- the creative part of my personality.
My schedule is much more within my control. The first year, I had almost too much time on my hands, and last semester, I had almost none. But the pace of the days is up to me much more than it every was. While I still plan my day around classes, I don't have to report to a place of business (except when I teach), and though I get up to see my daughter off to school every morning (much more for me than for her), I can go back to bed when she leaves if I want to (and, as a non-morning person, I often want to). I can work until noon, take a long lunch, and make up the hours in the evening -- and I often do -- which is a great option for a night owl. My schedule now shifts three times a year instead of twice, and that is still taking some getting used to, but I love the freedom that comes with it.
Maybe there's something to be said for the magic wands and crystal balls of fairy tales.
Or maybe they unnecessarily complicate leaps of faith.