Why I Want To Be A Grandparent

For the past four-plus years I have been preparing for retirement. Back in 2010 the wonderful little start-up I worked for was unexpectedly (at least for me) purchased by a behemoth public company. Not only was the nature of the job and business drastically altered but it soon became apparent our group was not going to survive the reorganization. My position quickly “evolved out” and at the venerable age of 50 I was forced to begin looking for a new gig somewhere out there in the daunting job market. I quickly discovered the number of career options requiring my skills (especially at my age) was rather dismal. After eight long months I realized I just might not find another full time job…ever

I began to plan and research and prepare for the retired life I might suddenly find myself living. Rather than focus on only the financial side of things I considered just how I would occupy and engage myself once no longer a member of the working world that had monopolized my days for decades. Since my departure and revelation, I have been able to build a variety of interests and hobbies and passions that keep me busy for most of my waking hours. And I love it! At the moment, the one thing my retirement repertoire is missing is the experience of having someone call me grandpa. I am looking forward to that day.

I think being a grandparent will be one of the best jobs ever. At a time in my life when I have “done it all” and could begin to find myself a bit jaded, in comes a new force whose life experience is a blank slate. Everything ahead is new and wonderful. Energy levels are as high as they will ever be and curiosity of all things is the norm. Innocence and honesty rule the day. And when they look up with those bright inquisitive loving eyes, you have no possible choice but to love them right back.

I look forward to being a part of first time experiences. I remember so many fun trips and adventures with my kids over the years and am ready to do it all again. One trip to the zoo stands out as my then three and five year olds wandered up to a Lemur exhibit. They had Sharing Photos with Kidsnever seen anything quite like these perpetually swinging critters that immediately began to hoot and holler with booming voices momentarily stunning the kids. But they quickly recovered and were soon laughing wildly as they bravely pushed their little bodies ever closer to the show. What about the first time investigating the wonders of the tide pools? Or their first pickle (a traditional comfort food in our family)? What about their first dance or baseball game or cartoon or ice cream? That wonder and excitement in their eyes is something I cannot wait to share.

I believe grandchildren will help me appreciate the little things. When I raised my kids there was often an unavoidable atmosphere of stress that threatened to taint the good moments. Whether it was the bills or long hours on the job or having to do without to prepare for the future, it was easy to get distracted. It was easy for the little things, those brief but wonderful special moments, to be overshadowed by seemingly more important events. As a grandpa that stress is no more. I will not get upset over a little mess that results from creative play and exploration. Reading stories will not be a chore but a highly anticipated event; holding them when tears flood will be my cherished duty; making them laugh will make my day; sitting together on the couch watching strange cartoons I do not understand will be just fine. I will have time (I hope) and patience (I really hope) to enjoy those moments that will only be lived once. And this time around I plan to appreciate each one of them.

Grandchildren bring their excitement and wide-eyed wonderment to holidays making celebrations even better. Christmas time for children is nothing short of magical – in their mind everything is possible. I remember when I was seven waking in the middle of Christmas Eve and calling mom to my bedroom vehemently swearing I heard the jingle of bells and Santa on the roof. I really thought I did! Every birthday is a special celebration with determined faces taking seriously the chore of blowing out all those candles. When Halloween rolls around prepare to be frightened by half pint monsters and enchanted by celestial princesses. There is no time to be anything but happy when you find yourself in the midst of energetic youngsters brimming over with a joy they cannot contain.

And I look forward to weekend visits knowing well the routine of my retired day will be thrown off its orbit and the cats likely traumatized by the determined pursuit of little people. Things may be misplaced and unexpected “decorative improvements” may highlight previously clean walls. And just when my wife and I find ourselves desperately searching for a couch to collapse into and that supreme cuteness of the grandkids has reached a saturation point, our children will come to the rescue. With genuine appreciation in their eyes for our help entertaining the gremlins, they will bundle up their toys and their furry stuffed friends and their cute little ensembles and head to the car for the trip home. I can see my wife and me sitting together as we catch our breath and gather our thoughts. Holding hands as we look toward each other I envision a smile on our tired faces as we relive memorable moments and congratulate one another on our survival. It was a memorable visit, it was a good time, and there is nothing better than being a grandparent.

From an article I wrote for a wonderful site called GrandMagazine

10 Components of a Happy Retirement

Financial preparations are an important component of any retirement plan. But money alone is not enough to live a satisfying retirement. Equally important is a plan to spend your time, develop relationships with others and maintain your health. Here are the important ingredients for you to realize the best possible retirement:

Enough money. Obviously, if you do not have enough saved and invested, you cannot realistically retire, at least not with the lifestyle you desire. But simply reaching a number in your retirement account is not the only aspect of retirement you need to plan for.

Having control over how you spend your time. One of the best things about being retired is the ability to decide what you want to do when you want to do it. This type of freedom is rarely experienced by those not yet retired. If you were to find yourself forced to live according to someone else’s expectations, retirement would be nothing more than an extension of your work years. But you get to leave behind other people’s rules as you begin to live your second act.

Spending quality time with family and friends. No longer finding yourself captive to boring meetings and meaningless interactions, you are now free to spend time with people you are actually interested in being with. And you are no longer limited to brief visits swinging monkeyssqueezed into a busy schedule. You have as long as you want to spend with whomever you choose.

Pursuing your passions, hobbies and interests. With the freedom to do as you choose, you can finally revisit the dreams and interests you were forced to put aside due to the demands of earlier life. And with enough interests and variety, you can prevent boredom and enjoy active stimulating days.

Giving back. Retirement can be your chance to express your charitable side and give back to society. Many retirees find volunteering to be a very rewarding experience. You are free to choose the causes most significant to you and make a difference in the lives of others.

Improving your relationship with your partner. Now that you have time to dedicate to the important matters in your life, the happiness of your spouse is an excellent place to start. You have time to spend with one another and rediscover the special person you fell in love with long ago. Although in some areas you may have changed over the years, some things never change.

Enjoying new experiences to broaden your horizons. You are no longer forced to live within the boundaries that defined the working you. The freedom to experiment and explore can open doors to interests you never knew you had.

Living a comfortable and safe life. Retirement is not always about searching for the next adventure. It also allows for the chance to relax, slow down and enjoy living at a pace more appropriate and comfortable for you. A balance between staying active and relaxing can keep you invigorated and ready for whatever comes your way.

Taking time for yourself. Downtime, the rarest of commodities for busy working folks, can now be yours in retirement. Taking time to think, relax, contemplate and dream can inspire you to live a more fulfilling retirement. Just remember that it is up to you to set aside the time and take advantage of your situation.

Maintaining good health. The freedom to do as you please affords the opportunity to refocus on healthy habits and practices. If you feel good it is easy to look forward to what the day has to offer. When it comes to healthy living, a regular routine that you can stick to can get you started in the right direction.

Assuming you are relatively satisfied with your nest egg and believe you can pay your way through retirement, it’s time to start thinking about the other aspects of retired life. In retirement you finally get the chance to do things your way. Make sure you include a plan for your health, relationships and passions.

From my blog on US News & World.