Sunday, December 13, 2009

The End of an Era

This week marks the end of an era for me. After not quite twenty years of working with college students, I’m ‘retiring.’ Teaching was something I literally fell into, first as an adjunct then working my way up to teaching and directing advising for a journalism school at a large university.

As chronicled previously, my husband and I were ready for a less hectic lifestyle and eager to be closer to family so we made a big move. I spent last year tutoring students three days a week in the writing center of the much smaller university where he accepted a new position. This was my ‘rehab’ job to ease me into fulfilling my goal of staying home fulltime to write. Despite the dismal job prospects for me in our new location, I simply couldn’t go from what felt like working outside the home 24/7 to zip.

By this fall I whittled my tutoring schedule down to one day a week and by Thanksgiving had made the decision not to return in the spring.

It’s a good decision, and certainly a well-timed one emotionally. My writing partner/mother and I sold our first book together when my older son was a toddler. Nearly 30 books later, he’s toddled off to Germany for the second time as a college sophomore doing a study abroad. His younger brother is a freshman in high school and already talking colleges and career choices. I want to spend more time with my mother, who was always there on snow days, sick days, and goin’ to one-more-work-event days (usually nights) for my children. And the timing is just right to pursue my long-time dream of making ‘free-lance writer’ my full-time occupation.

I loved college. I loved everything about it. Well, not the math or science classes but those were irrelevant to the rest. So much freedom, so many choices, but still that cocoon of not yet being tossed out into the ‘real world.’ Of course by the last semester of my senior year, I was ready to hurtle into that real world. But that’s the natural order of things.

Perhaps because of my affinity for those years, I adored teaching college students. I love my sons desperately, and it’s a good thing I never had girls because I can’t do hair and hate to shop, but have had many honorary daughters over the years. Honorary sons, too.

A fellow tutor and ‘honorary’ daughter is graduating from the University of Nebraska at Kearney at the end of the week. She’s heading across the world to fulfill one of her dreams. I’m going to miss her something fierce, the way I miss other students whose lives have touched mine over the years.

It was a good run.