So when we last left Mary Beth and Sarah they had weathered Preview Weekend at Alabama and were going to work on getting recommendation packets to the rec writers….ahhh the best laid plans of moms and daughters!

I put Sarah on checking our recommendation list when we returned for Preview weekend….of course one thing led to another and she actually didn’t get to it until June!!!  She of course had Spring Break (we took the girls to Cabo….very fun and a little sentimental..kind of a last mom’s and daughter’s trip…we went with 7 of her friends and their mothers).  There was her Prom and her boyfriend’s Prom (he goes to an all boys Jesuit high school), awards banquets, AP tests to study for, a grad party to plan and we went off to Bama bound (orientation) to the first honors one that was before Sarah even graduated from high school. How did time get away form us and wait…we still needed 4 more recs!!!  Total panic set in.  We were snapping at each other…there was blaming and finger-pointing and tears….oh my was there tears, but when it was all over we hugged and sat down to survey the situation.

I would make a suggestion to any of you who are reading this….do all the prep work you can ahead of time.  Sorority girl has some great tips for prepping rec packets…listen to her ladies..she knows what she’s talking about.  I actually called her on the phone and we chatted about how to get this disorganized mess organized.  She was so sweet and although it took us about a month by June 25th we had all of the rec packets out, most were in the process of being mailed or had just been mailed and I wish I could say I could breathe a sigh of relief but!!!

I wanted to tell you something about pictures.  This was the one thing we did right.  Sarah was really picky about who did her senior portrait.  We decided to try out a couple of photographers by letting them do her sorority rec pics.  We just bought the proofs!!  We made sure that we did head shots and full body shots.  Yes..we were honest with each photographer we tried and in the end we did choose one and she finished up the rec pics we needed but we killed to birds with one stone and really…we got some great pics in the process.

So with rec packets sent we of course began to worry about if the alums who said they would write the recs actually did send them.  It was the ones we got from our local panhellenic I worried the most about.  I mean..I didn’t even know these ladies and what if they just said they’d send a rec to be nice or because they didn’t want to say “no”.  Yes…this was a deep concern.  As suggested by Tammy we had enclosed a little note in each rec packet that asked the alum to notify it when she sent the rec.  I was pleasantly surprised that this kind of worked…and guess what???? The biggest offenders were people we were actually, kind of, acquainted with!!!  Oh some were great about letting us know that they had sent the recs but others I didn’t hear a word from.  I ended up “just enquiring” to a few who I happened to run into..not sure if that jogged their memory to do it or not but it made me feel better!  I had a few call and tell me that they got “thank you” notes from the different sororities when they had received the recs, that made me feel a little more comfortable. I didn’t mention my anxiety to Sarah although I am pretty sure she was probably worry ing about this as well.  She had gotten on some Facebook group for Rushing 2012 and there was lots of chatter about needing recs…it was an unspoken worry between the both of us!

I will share at this point a pleasant surprise I discovered while I was at parents weekend.    The panhelleinc groups I contacted actually had multiple ladies send recs for Sarah and we didn’t even know!!!  that was such a nice surprise.  I also found out that a friend who had found a couple of other sorority contacts had passed on Sarah’s resume and had made copies of her pics on her own and shared those.  I was very impressed that total strangers would go out of their way to do this for us!  While discussing this with an alum who was at the house meal we attended she shared how much being in this sister hood meant to her and how she would do anything to help young women who wanted this as well. She also shared that Sarah’s resume was impressive and her GPA also helped.  Also she said that several women who Sarah had met with (oh…when you ask a panhellenic for help sometimes the ladies will ask to have coffee or to meet with your daughter….do’s important!!), thought she was so sweet, intelligent and personable…made me smile!!

Before we knew it, it was time to shop for more clothes (my poor husband).  since we had been to Preview and had found pics from previous recruitments (not all were Alabama but from the general area) and Sarah had been chatting with her roommate and some of the girls from the Facebook page she had a pretty good idea about what she wanted.  As Sorority girl suggested we doubled up on outfits and I am so glad we did!!! During the first days or recruitment there was a weather issue and my daughter got caught in the rain. Had she not had a change of clothes she would have had to borrow.  We got 4 very cute sundresses for Ice Water Teas…we bought shoes for each so we could bag and label them all.  We then picked up 4 pairs of shorts (2 J Crew and 2 Madewell) for the Philanthropy Days.  Skit Day was a little harder….(we actually had a mother daughter meltdown during this one in Bloomingdales).  I thought she should go dressier than she wanted to go and she thought I was picking “old lady dresses”.  In the end I gave in and let her pick what she wanted…it was a good choice because when I saw a pic of her for the first day she looked just right.  Another hitch was at the last-minute they added a second Skit Day and so I was very thankful she had 3 dresses fro that day.  For Preference we had heard not to get black or white.  oh…one thing..ladies send a black and a white dress with your daughters.  They will need them for sorority rituals.  Thank goodness again for this blog…had I not read that here I wouldn’t have done it and I am sure Sarah would have called panicking on what to do and how to get dresses…yes she could of course borrow but much less stress to be able to go into your closet and get what you need.

Any way…for Preference we bought a really nice cream-colored dress.  She had grandma’s pearls and it was a very classy look!!  So all bagged up and ready we headed down to Alabama for move in and Convocation.

I have to tell you we were very intimidated at Move In.  The whole process went great.  Sarah opted to live in Tutweiller, an all girls dorm on the edge of sorority row.  She could have Honors housing in a beautiful suite,with her own bedroom but she decided she wanted to be close to the sororities.  This made me anxious…what if she didn’t get a bid?  She’d be living in a dorm full of sorority girls…how painful!!!  Oh well another worry to add to my list!

So we moved my sweet child in and much to my emotional chagrin we got in the car and drove away.  I had a box of kleenex all ready to go and I boo hooed all the way to Atlanta!  My husband kept shaking his head and patting my arm…he made a point that I would be back in less than a week for Bid Day.  He also noted..that even though Sarah was our only child the dog and the cat would be very glad to see me return.

It took us 2 days to get home and in that time we texted and Sarah sent pics of the girls in her Rho Chi group.  She told me that the group was made up of about 35 girls whose names were alphabetically in order.  She had 3 Rho Chis, who were sorority women who weren’t allowed to talk to their sisters and were there to help the girls in any way that they could but mostly to listen.  Sarah loved one of her Rho Chis whose name was Anna.  She was blond and bubbly and she and Sarah became good friends.  I felt a little better knowing Sarah had someone she could confide in and talk to.

What about her roommate you ask?  Well…Sarah’s roommate was from Charlotte, North Carolina.  They had met at Preview and hit it off pretty well.  We knew that the chance of them joining the same sorority was slim and the girls decided to not discuss their personal feelings about the houses they visited.  I thought this was a great idea!!  In addition the roommate’s sister was in a sorority at Alabama.  Now we had heard about the whole legacy stuff…not guaranteed but with a pretty popular sister in a house I couldn’t help but wonder if the roommate had an automatic bid.  Sarah shared with me the shocker…the girl didn’t want to join her sister’s sorority but LOVEd another one on campus.  This was going to get interesting.

The first two days Sarah visited every house for a short period of time.  She was so good about making notes in her Greek Chic ( the look book Alabama sends out to all the PNMs).  I arrived just 1 day before we left as there had been some printing problems.  Sarah had been a little anxious because the when the Rho Chi called she made it pretty clear Sarah needed it.  Oh and by the way I thought it was very nice that the Rho Chi called…what a sweet thing to do.

At the end of the first day the girls all had to go over to the Ferguson Center (the student union for us old folks) and list their top 11 houses and their bottom 5 houses.  The Rho Chis made sure the girls knew that they should write down every house!!!  We had read this on Sorority girl and so Sarah knew that this was called “maximizing your options” and that it was very important!  They had been told that if they did this all week that they would most certainly be guaranteed a bid.  Of course…it might not be a bid to any of their top choice houses but that’s a decision for later.

So Sarah listed her houses….she had some she absolutely loved and other that she felt not connection to at all!  Waiting was really hard.  The girls were given a time period to be in their rooms if their Rho Chi had to call and tell them that they had been released from recruitment.  The hands on my clock moved so slowly but I did breathe a sigh of relief when that time period passed.  We had agreed that Sarah would take a picture of her party card with her phone and send it to me…just in case she was too emotional..she didn’t want to cry on the phone.  Well I am glad she did!  The pic came through and she had 9 out of 12 invites back but 3 of her tops were gone!!!!  She texted and said she was ok..disappointed but was going to approach the day as a new beginning.  I was so proud of her for that big girl attitude!!  She had 5 parties that day and 4 the next and we agreed we’d chat later in the day after she had attended her parties.

When she finally called (she and some girls had gone down on the Strip (that’s the main road with lots of shops and eating places by campus) to eat at a restaurant Anna had suggested called Bento) she was up beat and happy.  she gushed about 2 of the houses she visited that she loved the Philanthropy and talked to a really nice girl who was also out-of-state from California.  She said that the girl introduced to her to lots of her friends and that made Sarah feel comfortable.  She also mentioned she was one of the last girls out and that everyone seemed to know her name.  I was surprised to learn that one of the houses she had really disliked was now in her tops list.  She commented that I was right sometimes you just don’t make a connection with one girl but the next day you do with others.

The next day she visited 4 houses and generally liked them all but not as much and her favorite house.  I really worried about what would happen if that house didn’t come back on the list.  She went and listed her top 8 and had one lone house to list in her bottom houses.  She commented that it was time for this house to go.

The “call”time period passed ..whew!!! and the party card pic arrived.  Sarah had 5 houses out of a possible 8.  She actually called and you could tell she was a little disappointed.  As she explained to me that meant that 4 houses didn’t like her. this process is very hard on a girls self-esteem.  I reminded her that it wasn’t personal…they just had other girls who they thought would be better fits (thanks for the language Tammy) but she was very excited that her favorite house was back…thank goodness.  I asked about the roommate at this point and she said that she had 6 and wait for it….she still had her legacy house after putting them last each time.  Interestingly enough both girls had 4 houses in common but were still abiding by the “no talk ” rule.

Sarah had 3 parties the first day and 2 the next.  Her favorite house was the last house on the second day. I talked to her at length about not putting all of her eggs in one not be too disappointed if this house went away but there was no talking her down.  She informed me that this was HER house.  You can then imagine my surprised when she called to tell me she had a new favorite house.  It seems that the bottom house had truly redeemed itself and had risen to the top of the pile along with the “fav”.    She was now upset and worried about the fact she had 2 favorites and how was she going to decide.  Apparently both houses were very different and the new top house was “old row”.  She was worried because she said they didn’t hardly every take any out-of-state girls and so she was afraid she would be dropped after this round of parties.

So what do you say as mother?  I looked into my heart and told her that she really needed to just trust the process.  She would end up where she belonged I was sure of it.  I encouraged her to make a list for each house that she had attended,listing positives and negatives.  I also reminded her not to listen to the tent talk (it was rampant) and to listen to her heart.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that this was out of her hands and that the sorority women at these houses were ultimately the ones who would decide her fate.

After Skit Day she went and listed all 5 houses (if you had all 8 parties you would list your top 5 and your bottom 3 but since Sarah only had 8 she just listed all 5).  Her roommate again listed her sister’s chapter last and Sarah said that her roommate told her if she was invited to Preference there she wasn’t going.  I was climbing on an airplane late tonight to fly into Nashville where I was renting a car to drive to Tuscaloosa the next morning so I could attend Bid Day the next day.  When I arrived at the hotel I messaged Sarah and told her I loved her and could hardly wait to hear her party list for Preference.

Well…when I left Nashville for the drive to Tuscaloosa Sarah did not have her list.  Talk about a nerve-wracking drive!!!  Finally at about 12:30 the picture text came in.  My hands were shaking as I opened the picture…what would I find. She hadn’t called and so was she upset???  The picture showed just two houses….the bottom house that had become a favorite was not on the list :(.  The favorite from the whole was though along with another house that Sarah had been kind of non-impressed with all week.  She then called very quickly because her Rho Chi was taking her phone but she wanted me to know that her roommate had two houses as well….the same two as Sarah.  And here’s the interesting part…Sarah’s favorite house was the legacy house of the roommate!!!!  Sarah said she had convinced her to go to the Preference party (they were actually attending the same one)…what an interesting day this was turning out to be.

By the time I got to Tuscaloosa, checked into my hotel and met the roommates mom and several of her friends for a quick dinner and a well need glass of wine Sarah was done signing her Bid Card.  I picked her up and we went to TCBY on the Strip to just talk.  She shared and shared…so many emotions and feelings!!  She really felt that the fav house was where she belonged. She told me how she was lulled in to a false sense of security at the old row house.  the girls were very nice but she said she found her self trying to be someone she was not.  She also shared that they kept telling her they hoped they would see her tomorrow and one girl even hugged her (guess that’s a no no).  She told me she was really sad when she saw it was not on her list and shared she was very nervous for Bid Day.  Lots of stories and rumors had been circulating about how even girls with 3 Pref parties didn’t get bids.  I reminded her that Panhellenic had told her if she maximized her options she WOULD receive a bid.  I dropped her off at Tutweiller with hug and an “I love you!”

The next morning we were told to go to the lawn of the house that our daughter had put first on her Bid card.  The time period had passed to be released so I knew that Sarah had received a bid.  As I stood on the lawn I looked at the faces of all the anxious mother and fathers.  I noticed a familiar face…it was the mother of Sarah’s roommate.  Now I knew that the roommate’s sister was a member so I was just thinking that perhaps she was there to see the older daughter.  Girls had been spilling out of the door holding signs with new members names written on them.  On their shoulders were tote bags that I late found out held presents and their jersey with their letters on it.  Fraternity boys began lining the streets holding flowers. There was chanting and singing and lots of smiles. I had hoped to see Sarah walk by heading to the stadium but never did catch a glimpse of her.

!0 am came and went…a roar went up in the stadium and my phone buzzed.  We had arranged to have her text me if I needed to move.  My heart sank…there it was ..the fatal buzz….I glanced down……tears filling my eyes and stared at disbelief at the words on the screen….Pi Beta Phi!!!  In all the excitement of the moment Sarah had texted me her Bid…the bid was to her first choice house…..I was on the right lawn!!!  Sarah had gotten her happily every after.  I watched the surge of girls coming towards us as the actives chanted and screamed….I hugged my daughter as she arrived on the lawn. She kept saying ,”Mom look!!” and as I turned to my right I saw Sarah’s roommate hugging her mother…they too were sharing tears of happiness…you see Sarah’s roommate had realized that this was her home as well. Sarah’s Bid day buddy was actually the roommate’s sister….we were really one big happy family!!!

Now I will tell yo this was probably one of the most emotionally draining weeks of my life.  As a mother you feel so helpless and yet your daughter turns to you for help.  Thank goodness I had Tammy to call…ladies use her..she’s wonderful and she gets it.  But my biggest piece of advice is for you all to trust this process.  Sarah truly did end up where she belonged.  In addition I would share DO YOUR HOMEWORK…BE PREPARED…GET RECS FOR EVERY HOUSE!!!  We were blessed that so many behind the scenes people stepped up and helped us but don’t count on anything.  Start now….be prepared.Senior year goes so fast and things tend to get away from you.  Good luck to you all!!!

Thanks so much to Mary Beth foe sharing Sarah’s story.  I hope you enjoyed reading it and that by sharing this you got a little more insight into recruitment at a competitive SEc school  Tomorrow’s mom is sharing about going through at an entirely different situation….a pretty laid back recruitment atmosphere but she quickly learned that looks can be deceiving.