You know the term “bittersweet?” I never fully lived that word till now. Bittersweet is kind of awful…but wonderful. It’s being SO excited and full of joy at the possibilities and also so very sad you’re not quite sure what to do with yourself.

No, I’m not retiring. ;) My husband is though, after 30+ years of teaching music, and 31 of those years at one school.

Can you even imagine? No one stays at one place for 31 years anymore.

He is the director of bands at his school and has overseen the whole performing arts department (one of the best, if not the best in the country…and I’m not just saying that) for years now.

I was in the band (color guard – the furthest I got on an instrument was playing the recorder…horribly) and fell in LOVE with the whole activity. So all these years I’ve understood his passion for what he does. At least a little bit. Enough be an understanding band wife all these years. If you are one youknowwhatI’msayin.

So while I’m THRILLED to have my husband all to us, our family, for really the first time ever, I’m also so unbelievably sad. It’s hard to put into words.

I’ve lived this world for the past 21 years and my stepdaughter and son grew up in it:

To be a band wife and a.) stay married and b.) make sure your kids see Daddy, you go to a LOT of events. Practices, school functions, football games, band competitions. Every season too – practices in the summer, competitions in the fall, shows in the winter and concerts in the spring.

My son grew up at the high school:

And I got the honor of sticking around my alma mater for another 20 years. I loved high school, I’m proud of that school and I was thinking the other day – how cool that I’ve been able to still walk those halls every month? Keep up with the changes, the staff, build more memories?

UGH. Months ago my husband told me this may be harder on me than him, and he was right at the time. Now it’s hitting him like a ton of bricks, so now we’re both just a MESS. :)

I don’t talk about my husband much on the blog but he is my EVERYTHING. I am the proudest wife on the planet. I have never met a man who works harder, is more successful, but is also the humblest man you’ll ever know. It’s NEVER about him. Always, always, always about the kids.

I’ve been going through hundreds of pictures in preparation for his big bash we’re throwing this weekend, and I hope you bear with me as I share a few and brag on him a little. These pics show so many of the things I love about him.

His unadulterated JOY of conducting:

He is so animated, so obviously in love with being in front of those kids, making music. It all shows when he’s on the podium. It is the definition of passion, watching that. Who gets to do what they are passionate about for 30 years? He is so thankful.

My man is a complicated one – he speaks in front of thousands like it’s nothing. He is a fantastic speaker and usually brings me to tears when he does. But he would so much rather be out of the spotlight, just doing his thing. He’s an odd mix of outgoing and introverted.

This photo so struck me as him in so many ways:

I know he looks upset there, but he’s not. He’s thinking. Contemplating. How to make the kids better. How to teach them more. How to help them succeed. It’s not about winning for him, it’s about life lessons.

I love that photo.

But this is the husband I see most often:

Happy to do what he does. Changing the lives of his students. Always trying to make someone laugh when they least think they will.

Those moments when the attention is on him he hates it…but he is always, always so grateful:

He never takes the credit, and will give it to someone else EVERY time.

But most of all (and now I’m crying, dangit!!!), he is all about his students. I’ve always called them his “kids,” not his students, because they are each his own in a little way. Thousands of them!

This photo was from the last concert in front of his band, and he’s holding up his hand so everyone acknowledges those kids:

Now I need to wrap this up cause I can’t even handle it. :)

Retirement for my husband won’t mean golfing every day – he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. He’s owned his own business for 20 years now (writing music and other stuff) and he will continue to do that. He’s also working with two organizations very close to his heart and he is SO excited.

But so sad. See? Bittersweet, the toughest word of them all.