by Shee Shee Van Inwegen
If you know me at all, have read almost anything I’ve written over the last several years, or overheard me whining in Ferns, you know I’ve worn my pending empty nest like a funeral pall about my shoulders. Now, shrugging those shoulders has become a constant habit, and “whatever” my frequent answer to just about any question. But suddenly, I don’t really care.
Perhaps it’s having had children in the house for 20 years, or, maybe more so, being (or feeling) entirely and utterly responsible for the rascals. But now I find myself repeatedly chanting the words, “I’m done,” like I hit the “aux” to crank the background tune of my life too many times. With one in college, one headed that way in the fall, and the youngest in boarding school, the only thing they need from me is the occasional lecture-so-they-know-I’m-still-breathing, and Venmo. On social media I used to list my profession as chauffeur, chef and clothes curator. Now, I’m just a bored domestic consultant and constant currency trader, and I don’t really care.
I’m staying up late and sleeping in. This column is due today, and I’m just now sitting down to write it. You can forget cooking; a haphazard stack of take-out menus is strewn across the countertop . . . alphabetizing and color-coding them as I used to do is far too taxing. If you’ve had a meeting scheduled with me of late, I may or may not have shown up. Speaking of late—I’m late for everything these days: doctor appointments, coffee, volunteer commitments—all late, and all only happening if they don’t conflict with my latest Netflix binge. That pile of dirty clothes in the corner? You wear it, you wash it; instructions are probably on YouTube. Groceries? Oh, that’s my job? Sooo not interested.
A friend said I have Senioritis, which Urban Dictionary defines as: A crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of . . . old athletic shirts, sweatpants . . . and sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as Graduation.
I spent so much time getting my family to do the things they needed to do that I graduated to becoming a total slacker regarding the things I need to do.
Similar to high school seniors, my future stretches like a sunny road undulating before me. I’m getting an early start on organizing the space in my life the way I want to, versus being subject to everyone else’s schedule. What’s ahead? Weekends in the Carolinas and California seeing my children, cocktails with friends, kayaking midday in Maine. Falling asleep and awakening to my body’s natural rhythm. Hanging with my hubby on Saturdays because we no longer have to rush off to somebody’s something. Long walks and long books and long drives.
Will I miss them? Will I miss the life we lived, the life I love? With an aching longing that defies words. But I treasured most of the moments, I reared them with intention and hopefully greater measures of humor, grace and love, at least when I wasn’t screaming. Now I get to remember and discover me, all at once. Though right here, now, in my ripped sweatshirt and pajama pants, I don’t really care. I’m just chillin’.