“Retirement was supposed to give me peace of mind, and it kept my eyes awake at night. The phones asking for a favor rang endlessly. ‘Real life.’

photo: Adobe Stock, Prostock studio

Ten, fifteen years ago, it seemed to me that at retirement age, the labor market would prefer to get rid of me. Everyone then threatened that the time of young people was coming. I remember this pale fear today, who fell on the 50 years.

I dreamed of peace and retirement

It seemed that at any moment the whole country would be inundated with layoffs of elderly people… And what? And nothing! I worked my retirement age in peace, then the fight to let me retire began!

– Bożena… Are you crazy? – asked the director of the kindergarten where I worked for ten years.

She looked at me as if I had told her that I was going to take a trip to space and not a well-deserved retirement.

– How are you ? It’s time …

– What time, woman!? You’re doing well. I don’t trust girls twenty years younger than you as much. Why do you need this pension? What will you do?

– I don’t know… Rest? Travel? – I smiled.

– You’re not traveling? Last week we were at the petting zoo, and a month ago you took the children to the green kindergarten … – she smiled.

– I saw Minozoo thirty times. Now I would like to go a little further with my husband – I smiled back.

– Bożenka, calm down … – the boss took a deep breath. – Let’s drop the subject of travel and think together if it’s a good decision…

– But I’ve already thought about it.

– Can you do it again? I’ll put your papers in that drawer, and in two days you’ll answer my question again.

– Nice to meet you, but…

– I’m asking you! Two days…

I nodded, went home and discussed the matter again with my husband. However, I did not change my mind and two days later confirmed my decision. This time the boss didn’t push me anymore, she congratulated me, gave me a hug, then she informed her friends…

And then the second round began!

Just like her, the girls inundated me with questions about what I will do in this retreat, why do I need so much free time and if I am not afraid of boredom. However, I was not convinced by any of the arguments they used and the procedure began. Everything was sealed. Then the parents of my children attacked. They asked, asked, surprised and even tried to blackmail me.

– Mrs. Bożenka, but how will it be? Are you going to leave the kids like that in the middle of the year?

– Please don’t worry. I work until August, until kindergarten closes. From September a new lady will come to them…

– And why do they need a new one, if they are so comfortable with you? – I heard.

However, I persevered in my decision and I left at the end of the school year. I remember the last day I said goodbye. At first, the little party looked like a funeral. Fortunately, when they all shouted, we even laughed a little. The landlady only once, as she was leaving, said:

– Bożenka, if you want to come back, you know you can …

– I say. Thanks, but I’m not coming back.

– And it seems to me that you will return … If not to me, then to the profession at all …

– Hey there, talk!

– You will remember my words.

And indeed, I remembered it quite quickly. I retired at the beginning of August and by the middle of the month it had already started. That’s when the free market called me. The same one who was going to abandon me, who was going to push back all the old ones.

– Bożenka, are you retired? One of the neighbors asked me.

I wouldn’t even leave the house…

It was the first offer. A harbinger of what was to come.

– Yes Fortunately.

– Look, don’t you want to earn some extra money?

– Not too much, what is it?

– My daughter and her son-in-law have two children. One is preschool, but the other is only a year old. They’re looking for a babysitter, someone they trust, and I know you have a lot of experience and a heart for kids…

– That’s nice, but thank you.

– Can I even give them a call for you? Maybe they will convince you?

– Okay, but I don’t think so.

They persuaded me to come and see them and I must admit that the amount they offered me was very tempting. However, I did not retire to return to work after a month. I thanked you politely and apologized.

It was the first proposal, the first signal that the labor market was not closed to women like me, but had just opened up. My kindergarten friend then called me.

Also with the hope that I will look after the children of my friends who are looking for someone they trust for their children. I refused. After a few days, I received a call from the owner of a private kindergarten! A friend from work gave her my number. Again, I heard very nice words:

But I retired 30 days ago…

– Mrs. Bożena, if you allow me to call you that. I am not looking for an ordinary kindergarten teacher. I’m looking for someone to please my young girls a little directed. My friend congratulated you very much. Apparently, not only do you deal with children, but also with your parents, you can develop a great relationship. So what? Would you be tempted? Let’s meet at least! I am your age and we will surely get along. What are you saying?

I then replied that I really appreciated the offer, but thank you very much. I explained that even if I had to go back to work, it wouldn’t be now. My husband and I were happy that we were finally together every day, so I was determined to stay home for those few months.

At the end of August, two other people called to take care of their children, but I told them the same thing. Well I already thought I was defending myselfthat a very pleasant and carefree year awaits me with my husband, when one evening a young neighbor from the gate knocked at our door.

A woman who moved two years ago with her husband and a small child to an apartment on the tenth floor, who became pregnant a few months later. She just gave birth…

“Hello, ma’am,” she bowed. – Forgive me for disturbing you. Am I not on time? She asked.

– Come in, go ahead. Enter the bedroom – I invited her into the living room.

– Thank you, I’m just for a moment. I wouldn’t want to occupy you in the evening…

– And what happened? Asked the husband who had just come out to greet her.

– Nothing in particular. Nothing bad, anyway. I have an affair with my wife.

– Would you like something to drink? I asked as she sat down at the table.

I was seriously fed up. I knew exactly what this conversation was about.

The husband just smiled strangely

– No thanks. I’ll cut to the chase, please, okay? Exactly… – she smiles. – Do you know that we have two children? Of course, we see each other. Please imagine that the smallest one, the one year old, has not entered the nursery and I have to go back to work. Our mothers live in other cities, so we would have to pay for a small private facility … – she began, and I already knew what was going on.

But I was silent. I let her finish, and my husband smiled strangely. The young girl explained to us that she and her husband had calculated that it would be more profitable for them to hire a babysitter than to let their daughter go to a private nursery and her son to a public nursery.

All the more – she added – since they only needed help four or five hours a day, since they both had irregular working hours and they could put it together.

– And here we come to the heart of the matter. Wouldn’t you, Mrs Bożena, would you or couldn’t you? Well, you know…” She smiled at me, and I sighed heavily.

– But I retired thirty days ago…

“Less than…” her husband interjected.

“Less than…” I confirmed.

– I know, I thought so too – worried neighbor. – But I decided to try. Especially since I heard so much good about you. But if not, then no. I will not bother you. Thank you goodbye.

She left and I went back to the kitchen for my lessons

But my work was not going well. I paced around, washing the same plate three times, until I finally returned to the living room to see my husband.

“Five hours a day…” I sighed.

“And the children are fine,” smiled the husband.

– Wouldn’t you be against it? – I looked at him surprised.

– Oh, Bożena, you will go somewhere, to do some work, I can see what is happening. It’s probably better if you work in the same door…

– So what, take?

– Take, take!

So I went to tell my neighbor that I made my decision after all. She fell into my arms as if she had met an old relative. She kissed me, called my husband, took me to see the kids, then let me go home so I could rest for a bit before Monday.

And that’s how the job market forced me to come back. And I had to land on the sidewalk before retirement. Luckily, these were just black predictions. It’s as funny as a week after going to work at my neighbors, I got a text from the old manager.

“I didn’t tell you,” she wrote. Yes, she predicted that I wouldn’t stay long in retirement, although she probably didn’t think I would be surrendering so soon.

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