Time of transition – the journey

As parents we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the various transitions our sons have made along the way: first day at childminder, first day at nursery, first day at school, end of primary school and beginning of secondary school, leaving school, university, starting work, new jobs, relationships and marriage.  You get the picture.  Each of these transitions affected us, both as parents and also as a couple and as individuals.

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We’ve been through a number of transitions ourselves – from being two individuals to becoming a couple, becoming parents, becoming carers for our own parents, being bereaved, becoming parents with children living away.

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Our latest transition has been, and continues to be, the move from long-term employment to retirement.  We are the fortunate ones who have been employed since we were in our teens, have always paid NI, and have final salary occupational pensions from our public sector jobs to look forward to.

Unless there is a dramatic change of public and political will in this country, we are probably the last generation to have that: we see a much bleaker future for our children, following the much bleaker present they encounter.  We’re a brief, two-generation blip between our working class grandparents who had things tough and our children.  So much for the great Welfare State that served us and our parents so well.  It grieves me to see it being steadily destroyed, wantonly and deliberately.

All my working life, which started when I was 14 years old (just weekends and school holidays at that point) I expected to receive my pensions at 60.  (No, of course I didn’t think about that for many many years after I started work, but I did think and know about it from when I had children).  Then, I think when I was about 56, I suddenly discovered (by chance – don’t think I have ever yet had a letter from the Government about this) that things had changed and I would have to wait till first 65 and then 66 before receiving my pensions.  In the name of equalisation of male and female pension rights.  All well and good, and I can’t and don’t argue with that, but I will just observe that it would be nice if the Government was equally keen to equalise male and female pay and employment conditions, and rather a lot of other things beside.

Women-Votes

Still, it is what it is.  And despite that, we know full well that this transition we are in the midst of is a much more comfortable one for us than it is for many others.

It began 3 years ago when Malcolm took voluntary redundancy from his Civil Service job.  The plan was that he was going to retire, and would probably choose not to work again.  I would continue in my part-time local authority job for a number of years, and the income from that and a small bit of his pension would give us enough to live on until he received his full occupational pension at 60, provided we were very careful.

That lasted all of two weeks.  Then people began to approach him offering bits of work, he accepted, we started our own business (for him initially and for me to join if my job became untenable or my post was lost in yet another round of public sector cuts).

Within a few months, he was back working full-time (and more!).  I began to reflect that I didn’t have to carry on working in a job that was becoming more and more difficult to do at a high enough standard for me to be able to live with.  I went on a pre-retirement course provided by my employer.  I did a lot of thinking, and together we weighed up all sorts of options.  I applied for voluntary redundancy.  I was turned down.

Along the way our caring responsibilities grew and grew, the work loads grew and grew, and I began to reflect on what I really wanted to do with the next phase of my life.

I didn’t know the answer to that, but I had lots of ideas and questions.  I did what I always do when I need to ponder a difficult question – I wrote lists.  Lots of lists.

I wrote lists of:

  • what I enjoy doing
  • what I’m interested in
  • what skills I have
  • what I’d like to learn
  • things I hadn’t yet done but would like to do
  • places I hadn’t yet been to but would like to go to
  • the people I want to spend time with

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I was offered the chance at work to go on a course to learn about coaching other people.  It was a fascinating course, and a very practical one.  I realised that I have been informally ‘coaching’ people for many years, and that I enjoy doing it.  Part of learning to coach was the opportunity to be coached.  I found the whole experience very powerful and very stimulating.  The course nudged me closer towards making some Big Decisions.

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I handed in my notice, having by chance just been offered the opportunity to do some freelance work.  The freelance work grew (but never beyond what I wanted it to be), and to my surprise I really really enjoyed doing it.

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Now we are three years on from when he became self-employed and nearly two years from when I joined him.  He will be 60 at the end of June, and his occupational pension will become payable.  It feels like the right time for both of us to move on to the next phase, and retire (from paid work, not life!).

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We’re finding it very exciting, and we have plans and hopes (and maybe fears) for this next part of our lives.  But we know enough people whose hopes and plans have been cruelly cut short to make us determined not to fritter away this amazing opportunity.

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So we are already putting our toes in the water, testing things out, and making arrangments.

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We’re going to have a ‘gap year’.  This won’t be like any gap year anyone else we know has had.  It will be one all of our own invention.  But that’s another story.

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About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
This entry was posted in Community, Gap year, Growing, Inspirations, Reflections on life (and death), Seeing differently, Travels and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Time of transition – the journey

  1. Such a heart felt blog post! Thanks for sharing. We are behind you in our transitions with teenagers in the house but I am very aware of the changes we have already gone through and will no doubt encounter ahead. I wish you all the best for your new chapter 🙂

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    • Thank you Eleonora, how kind.
      I think that of all the stages, we found some of the teenage years the toughest. I can remember at times reminding myself only to fight the battles that really mattered, and not to be drawn into the rest, and that we would come out the other side. As indeed we did, and with great pleasure. (of course there were also some great moments during that time too!).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post! I also feel so sad that our children have virtually no chance of getting the benefits that our generation received – and that they are (as a group) continually called slackers, as well. I am excited for your next phase! I have a civil service job (and someday pension too) and it’s always in the back of my mind that anyone could be laid off, so I have been saving at a high rate “just in case” and try to keep up my marketable skills!

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    • Thank you! Like you, we have tended to plan for the worst and hope for the best, which has meant that we have been able to face possibilities of redundancy or having to leave work earlier than planned knowing that we could at worst ‘get by’. Part of that was what we learnt early on when we were really really broke, and with no-one else we could have turned to for help, which we put to good use later on when things were a little easier and we decided to pay down our mortgage early.
      But as you say, our children’s generation have far worse working and living conditions that we had, and we do what we can to support them and protect them from the worst of that.
      BTW will be in touch shortly with dates when I’ll be in London in April, just in case we overlap. If not, hope you have a great visit!

      Like

  3. Pam says:

    I too worry about our children’s future, even more so since one of our daughters is married to a man who hasn’t worked for 4 years because of depression and OCD and the other is married to an actor. Sigh. Our son and daughter in law are doctors, so one assumes they’ll be financially more stable, though who knows, what with the NHS falling to bits and so on.

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    • Yes it’s hard isn’t it. I console myself that although the NHS has terrible issues to deal with (mainly politicians sadly!) our experience as a family has been good when it comes to medical treatment. And it matters so much – two of our four have serious ongoing chronic medical issues.

      Like

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