"Weekend, what's a weekend?"
by Alfred Gora
...I heard that line once when watching Downton Abbey, a hit show about a bunch of royal parasites living the good life whilst the folks below had barely a moment's breath.
I used to wonder the same myself when weekends came because as a high school teacher weekends were just more work, what with grading papers and posting grades and writing lesson plans and all.
No staff under me to care for needs, I had to cook and clean and do laundry and walk the dog and then get to work preparing lessons and cleaning up the class work to keep my students and their parents and the administrators off my back.
I loved my students, loved them as my own and they knew it, but that kind of affection comes at a price. I decided to retire at 55 because my district was offering early retirements due to budget cuts, so I took the offer and left without saying goodbye to my kids (got a lot of angry e-mails from them for leaving them, but, it would have been more painful for me to say goodbye in person).
Here I am now, six years later, and missing my students and the challenges, even when I had behavioural issues and had to deal with their dramas.
I now live in Europe, have a good life, are doing what I loved most, painting, and even have a nice studio. But, the emptiness does not abate, and I so wish I were back in the classroom. It is nerve racking sometimes and if it were not for my studio I'd kill myself!
How does someone with no interests outside work survive this?
Luckily my wife is still working, and I do the cooking and the cleaning at home and drive to my studio when I need to which is often. I am a work junkie, I love stress, I love work, and absolutely hate retirement. But, going back into a classroom full or even part time is out of the question.
I am now 62, and in good health, no issues with money, and I still get anxious. I tell myself, small steps, it will get better. I am still waiting for that moment when i can say, "wow, I love this new life!"
Even when everyday feels like a weekend....