I'm coming up on my 20th anniversary as an Alpha Xi Delta sister. Twenty years ago, I pledged this sorority with no idea of how it would affect my college days and the rest of my life. Truth be told, I only joined because I wanted to meet guys and be invited to parties. But don't tell anyone that. The good news is that I actually learned several life lessons that proved to be valuable as I matured into parenthood. The 15 lessons that have prepared me for motherhood are listed below:
1. Noise levels.
Do you know what the difference between living in a sorority house and a house with three kids is? Abso-freaking-lutley nothing. Someone is up early; someone is up late; someone is crying; someone is hungry. Learning to live, sleep, function through that noise is a skill that I have come to know. The good news is that the sage advice of "just go to bed" works whether your sorority sister is super drunk and crying over a boy or your 3-year-old son is scared of the Boogeyman. Just go to bed!
2. My house is a douche-free zone.
I've been to my fair share of fraternity parties. So I know that there are two different crowds of boys: There are douches and there are nice guys. There is NO in-between when it comes to fraternity brothers. So the lesson I learned here is to raise my son not to be a douche; to treat a girl with respect; to NOT take her to something called the "coup" or the "chunky gal trail." (YES, those were actually places in local fraternity houses when I was in college!)
3. Can we talk about going to the bathroom?
Whether you have children or live in a sorority house you quickly learn to go pee or poop with someone else in there with you. Sharing a single bathroom with 15 girls means someone is always brushing their teeth, curling their hair while you had to do your business. Having kids is the same... Except they just want to be near you.
4. If there is one thing that sorority life taught me, it's how to pull an all-nighter...
and still function in the morning. Late nights talking, drinking, partying certainly prepared me for the late nights of crying, needing some water, and being scared with kids.
5. Speaking of all-nighters, what about early mornings?
Why do philanthropic events start at the a** crack of dawn? A car wash can't start at 10:00 am? A 5K charity run can't be held after dinner? It's fine. It's okay. As I mentioned before, getting up early in the morning has prepared me for when my 4-year-old walks into my room and demands that I make him French toast... at 5:00 am. It's for a good cause, right?
If there is one thing that sorority's hold dear and near, it's their traditions. What I've learned also, is that traditions are important in family life too. I can remember several of our sorority traditions and it's something that we still talk about them 20 years later. I want these same memories for my children which is why I try to instill family traditions in our daily lives.
6. Ladies, if you think hell week is bad, try the last week of pregnancy.
No f*cking comparison. I would rather be hazed by the elders any day of the week than go through the swollen feet, can't sleep, hemorrhoid a**, "come-out-any-f*cking-minute-now" phase of being pregnant.
7. Have you ever lived with 20 girls in a single house? It's a lot like living with three children under the age of 5. Sh*t is everywhere.
You might think that girls know how to pick up after themselves... but no. Sorority girls and toddlers have about the same sense of ownership when it comes to keeping a tidy home.
8. There are a million times a day when I want to call my mom and ask her a question about parenting -- which is a lot like the Big/Little relationship in a sorority.
Your big is there to help you get through pledging, to help you get through hell week and to celebrate your accomplishments -- just like your mom will be there for you after you have kids.
9. Nothing good happens after two drinks.
It's true right? Nothing goddamn good will ever come out of the third drink. I learned this lesson many times in college and you'd think that I'd fully believe it by now, but I still like to experiment with this rule and every time I do, I come up with the same conclusion: Do not have more than two drinks unless you like popping ibuprofen with your coffee at 5:00 am as soon as the baby wakes up.
10. I am thankful that I was in a sorority, because if there is one thing I learned, it's how to be crafty.
Rush sweatshirts with iron-on letters, Big/Little Banners, Pledge gifts: the amount of sh*t I created with some fabric and glue gun back then prepared me for a lifetime of Pinterest attempts and good times with my kids.
11. I'm gonna let you in on a secret: I barely remember my college days. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was the PTSD of it all, but for that reason, I am so happy that we have photos from those days.
I have albums and albums full of happy photos of my sorority sisters. Which reminds me that I need to take more pictures of my kids, because these days will be gone before I know it. They'll be 20 years old, and I'll be wondering where they time went.
12. Unconditional love.
The thing about sisterhood is that no matter how much you hate someone in this moment, you are stuck with them. You are stuck living in the same house, using the same bathroom, sharing the same traditions and celebrating the same celebrations. So guess what, you are going to have to suck it up. It's called unconditional love. It's the kind of love that you need to have children; its the kind of love that comes naturally the moment you give birth to your children. So while it felt suffocating to be in the same room with a girl I was mad at, it taught me a good lesson.
13. Girls can be b*tches, and moms can be the b*tchiest b*tches.
Girl competition is inevitable when you live in a sorority house, but it's a million times worse when you are a mom. Everyone is a motherf*cking expert and everyone thinks that their way is the best way. Well step aside, helicopter moms, because I spent four years in the same house competing over boys, room choices, grades, and clothes. You ain't got nothing on me. Holla.
14. You will always be surrounded by people.
Have you ever just wanted a second to yourself? You can't even go to the bathroom alone (see #2) let alone get a little QT by yourself. It's ok. I'm used to it. When you live in a house with 20 girls, you learn to live with limited personal space, which is the same thing when you have children. They invade you, they crave you. I swear somedays my daughter would crawl back up in my vagina if I let her.
15. Lastly, sorority life has given me a set of friends that I still have to this day that I can call, email or text and b*tch about my kids, my husband and parenting.
Because sometimes you just need a friend who's going through the same thing on the other end of the line to listen to you, offer you a glass of wine and then randomly break into a pledge class chant.
Cheers b*tches, thank you for shaping me into the mother I am today!