Steve Harding served as the City Manager of the Cities of Murrieta and Jurupa Valley, President of the City of San Diego’s Southeastern Development Corporation, Deputy City Manager of the City of Santa Ana, and Executive Director of the City of Santa Ana’s Redevelopment Agency and Housing Authority.
This is part II of Steve’s conversation with himself about retirement. Part I: When the Full-Time Commute Is Over
Remember the old work-life balancing act? In reality, it’s always been the time balancing act. You know, the one with the giant time commitment of work on one side and all the other commitments on the other side? Think of the weighing pans on a balance scale but you’re not at Sutter’s Mill and you are not weighing gold. You’re weighing a more valuable commodity, “Time.” Well that big nugget of time is gone. Now you’re going to have to redistribute, add, and subtract all those other weights of time. You need to reprioritize. You need to find that balance. For many it’s just not that complicated. Grandchildren, golf, tennis, travel, becoming a master chef, training for a marathon and playing in a retro rock band more than facilitate the great shift of priorities. But for you, now let’s see. You do have two unmarried adult children. One lives on the other side of the country. No grandchildren to be seen on either coast. Last time you played golf, it played you. Between lousy eyesight and slow reflexes the tennis ball bounces off the back fence by the time you finish your forehand. On the plus side, you are learning to cook and you do travel. (Bless Trader Joe’s cookbooks and Road Scholars travel guides.) As far as running and rock bands are concerned, you were a high school and college sprinter with the medals to prove it. During your teens and twenties, you and your band mates got paid to play in clubs and won more than a few battle of the band contests. You even spent time in recording studios. Having your average talent exposed, those urges have been met.
So what else? With a nature preserve as a backyard, you do hike. You’ve even jumped back on the two-wheeler. Still you do need to be more consistent with both. At least you have new hiking poles and a hybrid street bike. You and the spouse are splitting responsibilities; the care of three dogs, yard maintenance, the laundry, and house cleaning. My God, these redistributed priorities require a posting of more wifely duties on your side of the ledger. You do have time to reflect. You made it a point to play a major part in raising your children and taking care of aging parents. You even made an occansional meal, pushed the vac and yes, you even did windows. But it was the wife that did most of the heavy lifting. You tell yourself as a professional, you just didn’t have the time. It didn’t matter if the one way commute took 10 minutes or an hour and a half, you were usually gone 14 hours a day. For more than ten years, your spouse played the role of the full-time mom and caregiver. She put her own career on hold in doing so. Rationalize it anyway you want, it was a matter of choice. It was a joint decision.
P.S. You don’t have to be that cheap. You can afford a gardener and a house cleaner. How much maintenance do two adults and three dogs need anyway? Better yet, how about a condo?