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Inside The Crazy, Mixed-up World of Retirement

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Life is backwards these retirement days. In what seemed like seconds, I went from many years of my husband Randy away on business (while I stayed home with two kids) to the kids gone and Randy home.

By Laurie Stone

Life is backwards these days. In what seemed like seconds, I went from many years of my husband Randy away on business (while I stayed home with two kids) to the kids gone and Randy home. We’ve become this interesting hybrid of our Bohemian 20s and creaky 60s. Some things I thankfully do less of — like pretending I understand long division or worrying about new driving permits. But here are six things I find myself doing more.

Cooking

I guess you could call what I did “meal preparation” in the early years. At least I knew my way around a turkey burger. But that’s all I had the energy for. Thank God for take-out or I would never have survived my kids’ formative years.

Now a strange thing has happened. Cooking has become a relaxed, even social affair. Thanks to Blue Apron (a service that ships high quality recipe ingredients) whisked to my door, I now prepare the occasional Verjus Braised Chicken or Crispy Barramundi, willingly… well, almost. Randy joins me in the kitchen and we have a glass of wine while listening to NPR or Billie Holiday. It’s all so gourmet, so Jacques Pepin, I’m shocked at my own transformation.

Drinking

I admit it: I imbibe more. I have a glass of wine with dinner almost every night. This laid-back, oh-so-civilized lifestyle wasn’t possible when we had two sticky-fingered little boys running around. Even in the teenage years our house was a noisy bustle of young musicians and skateboarders. There was always someone who needed to be dropped off or picked up. Being an “on-call” chauffeur meant no booze with dinner.

Now? It’s nice to sit back and enjoy a glass of red during a meal. Sometimes we even have Happy Hour at 4 p.m. There’s something very adult about these years that I like.

Listening to music

Much of my children’s childhood was spent with me yelling, “TURN IT DOWN!!” Between the budding musicians in the basement and the latest offering on MTV, our house was always throbbing with notes and rhythm.

Then it stopped. Now, strangely, I listen to music on my own, all the time — while making the bed, cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry. I’m not sure why I need Joni Mitchell, the Supremes, and Queen to get through my day, but for some reason, I do.

Reading

I’ve always been an avid reader. That will never change. But in the old days, books were things I grabbed during odd down times. I was too busy reciting, Goodnight Moon” and Green Eggs and Ham to sleepy toddlers. Even when the kids were in school, there was too much to do during the day to read.

Now? Sometimes I’ll look into my living room in the late afternoon. The sun’s hitting my favorite reading chair just right, and I’ll think, “Why not?” I’ll grab my Kindle and spend an hour catching up. But there’s something else. To my sadness, I realize I’ll never get to everything. I’ll never find every great author or learn all there is or meet every wonderful character. But it’s still fun trying.

Missing My Kids

In the old days, I reveled in moments alone. Those times when babies napped or kindergarteners trundled off to school. When they were teenagers, my sons and their friends were always in our house. There was constant, “boy noise,” squabbles to mediate, and homework to help with.

Now I make dinner dates with my sons. And as wonderful as these interludes are, they always leave me a little wistful.

My oldest, Patrick, is completely launched. I see his whereabouts on Facebook. And while his younger brother, Paul lives at home, he works all the time. We’re often like ships in the night.

I know: It’s the way things should be. But, I’m still (sniff)…adjusting. 

Appreciating Things

Looking back, I see how we sometimes took life (and people) for granted. Everyone was young and strong. Most of the time, life went our way. But as I’ve grown older, I see things happen. Good, seemingly healthy, people get sick and sometimes die. Friends move away. Parents age and pass on.

I see now how we all have only so many days on this planet. And although I want to appreciate every sunrise and sunset, it’s not always possible. Still, these years have a way of making us slow down and realize how lucky we are (and were).

Retirement is a funny time of life. It’s like that song by the Talking Heads, “And you ask yourself…how did I get here?”

And the answer is always…one day at a time.

Yes, life is now backwards and topsy-turvy.

But I like it.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, CT.  Her blog, “Musings, Rants &Scribbles” shares thoughts on growing up, older, and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

6 Responses to “Inside The Crazy, Mixed-up World of Retirement”

  1. THIS. This is beautiful! And I feel all of it.

  2. I loved reading this post. We have been retired for 20+ years and it still surprises me how much fun we are having. I have to pinch myself once in a while to realize how wonderful life is.

    Enjoy!

    Barbara

  3. Darlene says:

    I find myself appreciating things a LOT more too…especially the small, simple things that I so easily took for granted during my busy, high-stress career which also involved a lot of travel. Just being able to sit on my porch and enjoy a sunrise in the morning without rushing to an office for meetings is something I appreciate so much! I am not fully retired, I work for myself…but not having to do that 9-5 thing anymore helps me live a “retirement lifestyle” at 50! Love it!

  4. Laurie Stone says:

    Michelle, Thanks so much. Things are certainly topsy turvy, but they’re fun!

  5. Laurie Stone says:

    Barbara, That’s so wonderful to hear. In a funny way, we’ve resorted to our 20 year old selves…with more aches and pains. Thank you for reading.

  6. Laurie Stone says:

    Darlene, What a gift to have time and space in life. I’m grateful everyday. Love that you watch the sunrise. So lovely.

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