Eating my way into my daughter’s future | Living with Gleigh

My daughter got accepted to DigiPen Institute of Technology’s fine art and digital animation program last Friday night. Being an “institute of technology” they do everything by email, so I guess getting an email on a Friday night shouldn’t have been a surprise. I was in the kitchen on the phone when she flew in, “I got an email from DigiPen with an acceptance decision. I’m afraid to open it.”


My blood ran cold; they said two-to-four weeks, it had only been one. What does that mean? Does it only take a week to reject someone? I hurriedly excused myself from the conversation I was having so we could open it together. “Congratulations!” it said. Screaming, crying and hugging quickly followed.


She’s wanted to go to this college for the past five years. She graduated from high school last year, but didn’t have enough artwork to submit to DigiPen. So she’s been going to Green River Community College this school year working on an Art Studio certificate designed to build a portfolio.


I’ve been comfortable having her nearby, living at home, commuting back and forth to school. I put her future out of my mind while still urging her forward with the application process to DigiPen.


The past six months I’ve seen her grow emotionally and even her artwork has greatly matured with college-level art classes. I feel her readiness to continue her education away from home; out from under the long arm of mom; to be dependent on herself and to make new friends with common interests.


It’s not like she’s far; DigiPen is only an hour from home, but it’s far enough for her to feel like she’s living on her own, starting a new phase in her life. I know all this, I encourage all this, I’m excited for her future.


Then on Saturday the gravity of the situation came crashing down on my psyche. The reality of what my life will be like this fall descended on me like an avalanche: a table for three instead of four, having that feeling every night that all my ducks aren’t in a row with her empty bedroom mocking me, her calling for money, worrying that she’s getting proper nutrition, hoping she’ll call before she gets too stressed or overwhelmed, wondering if she’ll come home on weekends or even have time and if she comes home will she expect me to do her laundry?


I had a little mental breakdown on as real life came crashing into my world. I felt paralyzed to do anything but contemplate my future, which is what I had been avoiding while she’s been close to home attending Green River: campus living, money, empty bedroom, cooking for three.


Now I’ll have two locales to worry about. So I did what any red-blooded, American mom would do, I used food to calm myself: I started in on fattening popcorn, worked my way through a big helping of lasagna and moved on to sherbet and chocolate sauce and mini-cinnamon rolls my husband brought home sensing my stress.


My fears and stress eased up a little on Sunday, but I still had more uncertainties to quell. After a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast with jam, I sidled up to another bowl of sherbet and chocolate sauce, mini-cinnamon rolls, descended on a bowl of Lucky Charms (my favorite cereal, by the way), and topped it off with Safeway Chinese food.


Did eating all this really help calm me? No. But it was delicious. I’m not sure if I’m out of the woods yet, though. Maybe I’ll bake a cake, go crazy and have a third cup of coffee.


Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is now working out to drop the pounds she gained last weekend. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week at under the Lifestyles section.
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