My weeks during the school year fill up with so many substitute teaching jobs that most people teasingly remind me, “You know. You’re retired.” Up until this year, I’ve laughed and chimed back that I need work to keep me out of trouble.
The real reason is, of course, financial. As a family, we took on debt to help our son start his own business. Our strategy to shift major purchases onto our shoulders as a family gave him breathing room as he mastered his skills and pulled in clients. We knew from my husband’s experience as a freelance artist that it can take four or five years to establish a business to profitability. When we made the move ourselves, I had a full-time job in education with a steady paycheck. Our son, single, didn’t have a second income to support him as he studied, purchased equipment, and sought clientele. As a family, we’ve allocated part of our income (my substitute work) into paying off business expenses at a faster rate than our son could do on his own.
This upcoming school year should bring us to our financial goal of clearing almost all of the debt incurred from this investment. I wonder if that means, come the 2019-2020 school year, I’ll do a second retirement—this time from substitute teaching. My calendar will sit blank month after month, with no commitments except for whatever my heart desires. I could write all day, every day!
But I know my nature. Today, I look at my calendar for next month—empty right now, and think, “What will I do to fill these days?” A little flutter of panic hits me when I consider endless days left open and blank. I suspect that I may dip my toe into substitute teaching for many more years. I could shift to working like my dad did with a few days each month to pay for something special for Christmas or birthdays.
Copyright 2018 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman