Higher education is overrated for mothers | Living with Gleigh

Higher education is overrated. I’m only saying this because with my youngest in London and my oldest working, my husband and I were forced to camp alone together for the first time — not once, but three times. I’ve been a bit of an emotional wreck these past couple weeks.

I finally calmed down somewhere towards the end of our last camping trip and car show, after my youngest got home from London, my oldest had taken herself to her own dermatologist appointment up the big scary highway and back, and the poker run I crafted was over (a poker run is an event put on by car clubs, giving attendees a chance to drive around, following set directions, and drawing poker cards at each stop; the best hand wins). Everyone was safe, everything went smoothly.

Realizing I was finally relaxed, I texted my oldest daughter, “I’ve decided you can’t go away to college this fall. What kind of taffy did you want most of?”


She hasn’t gotten back to me about the higher education issue.

When I woke up this Monday morning, I realized for the first time I wasn’t stressed about anything. All I needed to do was laundry, take my youngest to an appointment and make dinner. We have company coming for a week, but it’s a good friend, so general housecleaning is all that’s necessary; you know me, I never clean house alone.

Feeling like laundry, the kitchen and dinner was a good enough contribution from me, I got my daughters up early (okay, 9 a.m.) and set them to the housekeeping. It took them all of a half hour.

But like all my days, once I’m up, the next stress makes its way into my head. Right now it seems to be that my youngest daughter, now safely home from London, is thinking she may want to study and live there someday. That’s what we get for sending our children out into the world, they learn things.

I may or may not be overly protective. Sometimes I think I didn’t give my daughters enough independence early on and now that they are getting a taste of it, they are ready to have more. I shouldn’t be surprised. I traveled and lived in Europe for a year when I was my daughters’ ages. When I was 17, I was in Denmark a whole summer, living with a family as an exchange student. Then in my first year of college, I lived, studied and traveled there a year. I was with a group, but it was a more independent program than my summer there in high school.

I get it now, Mom. I get how worried you were. I get how hard it was for you to let me go. Now I fully understand. But we have to let go eventually, right? We raise our kids so they will grow up, move away and become productive members of society. When they do, we are glad for them, but we never stop worrying.

Even today, living three miles away from my own mother, if I’m not where she thinks I should be at a reasonable time, she panics. Now my kids are just getting started, they are ready. The question is, am I?

Now, to talk to my oldest daughter about this higher education idea.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.”


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