I received an email Monday night…it simply said, “Help!!!!! I am a mom of a PNM and am freaking out!” That was it…just a plea for help. So, I drafted this letter to the distraught mom. After emailing it to her I asked if I could share it here and she whole heartedly agreed.
Dear PNM mom,
I am so sorry that you are “freaking out”, but know that most likely you are not alone. I am quite sure that there are many other moms who are having the same heart palpitations, sweaty palms and panic attacks that you are currently experiencing. Three years ago I was in your same position. Our youngest daughter was getting ready to go through recruitment at a large SEC school which has one of the most competitive recruitments in the nation! I had been so methodical when it came to preparation. Spread sheets for recommendations, extra rec packets just in case, clothes carefully selected, bagged and labeled. I had crossed every t and dotted each i.
It was late one night after a couple of glasses of wine with a good friend that I had “the melt down”. She threw her arms around me and together we sat and talked and cried until the wee hours of the morning. I am going to share with you the revelations I had that night. They calmed my nerves (ok not completely but mostly) and made me feel like I had a plan and was somewhat in control again.
You and I have raised beautiful (both inside and out), intelligent wonderful daughters. I know you worry that the world won’t see her through their eyes like you do through yours. If they miss those fabulous qualities that make her unique and special it is their loss, not hers. Tell her to hold her head high and be proud of who “she” is. There is only one girl like her in this whole world, she is truly unique and special.
Before your daughter leaves for recruitment sit down and have a little chat with her. Remember back in the day when you had to have “the talk”..(yep you know the one I mean:). Well…you are going to have another one of “those sorts of talks”. I need to back up….before my daughter left for college (and recruitment) I took and decorated a little jar. On the top I painted this quote…”Everything you want in the world is just outside your comfort zone”. I took little pieces of paper and on each one I wrote a quote or something I loved about her. When we went to Starbucks and snuggled up in the corner I gave it to her. I told her that they were “hugs” from me. That not only during recruitment but any time at all should she need a “hug” she should reach in, take a piece of paper and as she reads it picture the two of us together …me giving her a great big HUG!
Introduce your daughter to “Mr. Kleenex Box”. Yep…decorate a box of kleenex (and while you’re at it decorate one for you as well)….she’s going to need it ( and you will too!). I can guarantee there will be tears…tears of frustration, tears of sadness and tears of joy. Lack of sleep, being away from home in an unfamiliar setting, moments of joy and then moments of sorrow, riding the emotional roller coaster all will help facilitate those tear ducts to work (in some cases overtime!). Let her know it’s okay to cry. Holding it in and being brave is only going to make her feel worse and have a much bigger boo hoo. When my daughter called very upset one day during recruitment I told her to go back to her dorm (she had a couple of hours break before her first party..part of the reason for the boo hoos…..big cuts!!), take off her pretty dress and go sit in the shower and cry. I told her to sit there for as long as it took to get all the tears and frustration out. Then I told her to go back and do her hair, makeup and put on that pretty dress and head on over to her first party. …..with a SMILE on that pretty face.
It’s hard to be the mom in that position..the one where you have a crying daughter on the other end of the line and you can’t give her a hug. You can tell her over and over agin that she’s pretty, and it’s their loss ect but it’s still hard. Make sure that you have a good supply of chocolate and wine….you’re going to need it. One day I ate 6 cupcakes in the span of 30 minutes!!!
Find things to do that will keep you busy. Start a new volunteer position if you don’t work, set up lunch dates with girl friends each day…schedule manicures and pedicures..treat yourself to a spa package or a massage, schedule haircuts, dentist appts…you get where I am going right….stay busy!!! Staring at the phone isn’t going to make her recruitment any more successful nor is it going to make her call any quicker to tell you how it went. Don’t call and bug her. This is one of those moments of growth. It’s like the first day of Kindergarten…remember that one? I was so worried that no one would want to sit by her, or play with her, or want to be her friend. We worry…we’re mothers, but if you call and obsess to her it will just heighten her stress level.
Before your daughter leaves you need to talk about the “what if”. What happens IF she gets the dreaded phone call. Yep …the one that we don’t like to talk about…”I’m sorry to have to tell you this but you didn’t receive and invites to parties” or “I’m sorry but you did not receive a bid”. Just typing those words makes my stomach hurt. You need to talk about a plan if this (God forbid!!!) would happen. Does she want you to come there (in some cases you might be there…especially if she doesn’t get a bid and you are there to help celebrate Bid Day)? Does she want to come home for a few days (I would not recommend this!)? You know your daughter…make a plan, stick it away and say “I know we aren’t going to have to use this but it’s there just in case.”
Finally I how it feels not to have control over something. That helpless feeling ti AWFUL!!! But my dear this is out of your hands. You have done everything in your power to make this a success. And so you just have to have lots of FAITH. FAITH that each sorority will “see”your dear sweet daughter as you do. FAITH that she will get girls who she has a connection with and good conversations. FAITH that the zipper on her Pref Day dress doesn’t break, that they find that little snort she does at the end of her laugh cute, that she takes the advice of Panhelleic and always maximizes her options. Faith that this will work out the way it is supposed to. FAITH that both of you will survive this week and will celebrate together when she opens that Bid Card that holds the name of her new sorority home.
Look for the successes in each day. Instead of lamenting about the houses that went away rejoice at the houses that are left and what opportunities they bring…Remember that the glass is half full not half empty. Not only should you help your daughter to see this but YOU dear momma should remember as well. The houses that invite your daughter back look at her with “knowing eyes and hearts”. They “see” in her all of those wonderful qualities that you see as well. They WANT her for who SHE is….that’s important.
I have a favorite quote that says…….”It’s only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis.”
Live each day from now through recruitment as if each is a “happily ever after”.
I am here if you need the support, a shoulder to cry on or a friendly word or chat….