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24 Ways Being In A Sorority Prepares You For Being A Mom, Because Bonding, Teamwork, And Staying Up All Night

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Surprisingly, I’ve found that even now, more than 10 years after graduating, I’m still discovering new ways being in a sorority changes your life, and even prepares you for parenthood. The stereotypical image of a sorority girl — or a sorority woman, as many of us prefer to be called — doesn’t exactly scream “motherhood," but (thankfully) I found my experiences in a sorority to be much more than the red solo cups, skimpy outfits, and heavy make-up that we're seemingly known for, (which is lucky for me, because my make-up skills seriously still needed work when I was a college freshman).

Joining a sorority was a quick and easy choice for 18-year-old me as I prepared to attend my state’s flagship university. Automatic belonging in a community? Check. Quick and easy friendships? Check. Feeling “cool” about the potential of wearing Greek letters around campus? Check. Living in a big house that was nicer than most other college housing options? Check. Access to fraternity boys? Check. Sign me all the way up. I didn’t care about the stereotypes — the upsides were too alluring to turn down. I knew there were serious parts to being in a sorority too, like sisterhood, community, history, ritual, things that would require pantyhose and pearls...but I didn’t give it much thought. My decision was made.

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I might have struck some sort of lucky sorority lottery, but I found the Greek experience, though flawed, to overall be pretty awesome. And though I understand more now than I did then about how issues surrounding privilege, diversity, and misogyny are playing out on college campuses, and how Greek systems typically don’t help the problem, I still think I’d make the same choice (as long as I could go back to a time when cameras and Internet weren’t in everyone’s pocket during Thursday night parties). And perhaps more surprisingly, my years in the Greek system gave me a crash course in feminism and women’s issues because, all of a sudden, I was in close quarters with more women than ever before. And — surprise! — well all had different backgrounds, interests, ideas, wants, and needs. But that’s a conversation for another day. Really, the prime lesson remains that there are a number of aspects of sorority live that ready you for motherhood, including:

Wearing Clothes That Aren’t Yours

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In college:

I wore my roommates’ “party tops” (yes, that’s what we called them) because I thought they were cuter than mine.

During pregnancy:

I wore my friends’ shared maternity gear because it freed me from the responsibility of buying an entire wardrobe that I’d only need for a few months. Everyone wins. And by everyone, I guess I mean me, but at least I recognize it and I appreciate it.

Boss Time Management Skills

In college:

Technically, there's a lot of help with this one because you are often told where to go, and when to be there, for things like class, pledge meetings, study tables, and dinner. But, there are a few things that we're left to our own devices on, like squeezing in additional time to studying, deciding when to arrive at the party, and when to leave it (*cough*) and there's where the struggle really is.

In mom life:

I'm constantly asking myself, "Do I really need to do that [run errands, sleep, put on deodorant] today?"

The Ability to Quickly Ready Oneself for Pictures

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In college:

This was a crucial skill that enabled groups large and small to form and smile prettily at a moment’s notice. Perhaps you’ve heard of the sorority squat?

In mom life:

Now, I’m usually the one behind the camera, trying to capture something adorbs that my son is doing. However, sometimes I’m the one in the photos, holding him. One needs to act quickly when the subject of the photograph is squirming out of his or her arms and dammit the sun is about to set and please take the picture because he’s pulling my hair. My fast-posing skills will never go to waste so long as my kid is around to squirm and run away.

Realizing That “Just Because She Did It That Way, It Doesn’t Mean I Have To.”

In college:

This lesson took me a while to learn, but I got there eventually. It was the early aughts, so it came up for everything from "Just because she wore her one-shoulder top and chunky boots tonight doesn't mean I have to," and "Just because everyone else likes this Chingy song, doesn't mean I have to," and "Just because everyone else is going out tonight, doesn't mean I have to." That last one makes me sound like a responsible decision maker, but often I was just feeling lazy. But seriously, once you get past the initial groupthink that comes over many of us, you start to see that there are actually many paths through college and through sorority life.

In mom life:

Vaccines? Public or Private or Home School? Organic anything? Formula or breastfeeding? Dora or Daniel Tiger? I can assure you that my friends and I do not make the same choices in all of these areas. I believe this is what the youth of 2013 referred to as #YOLO.

Recruiting Other Women

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In college:

This came in the form of recruitment, or “rush,” a time when we’d sift through hundreds of potential new members every year during that mutual selection process that exposed them to our chapter and the 15 other sororities on our campus.

In mom life:

Now, instead of roommates, my partner and I are looking for someone to come and take care of our son. I thought it was hard enough choosing my future Little Sis, but considering someone to look after our child is next level.

Digging Deep For Enthusiasm When You Really Aren’t Feeling it

In college:

I attended song practices, you guys. There's nothing more I have to say about this one.

In mom life:

My son has reached that phase where he wants to read the SAME BOOKS ALL THE TIME AND COULD WE PLEASE CHANGE IT UP JUST THIS ONCE? I don't even care what we read as long as it's not the one with all the trucks. OH HEY LOOK, HERE'S A CEREAL BOX AND AN OLD RECEIPT WITH GUM IN IT.  

Lot Of Food, Everywhere, All The Time

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In college:

I had access to food constantly, because our kitchen was pretty much a mini-cafeteria like what you’d see in a dorm. Within weeks of arriving at school, I discovered my love for panini sandwiches and broccoli-cheddar soup, two things that my family never really bothered with when I was growing up.

In mom life:

During pregnancy, and my months nursing a newborn, I required access to food at all times because if I didn’t, my stomach would become a hollow cave, and I’d start growling for food like a BEAST.

Don’t Get Too Attached To Your Favorite Clothes Or DVDs Or Magazines Or Possessions In General

In college:

Nearly one hundred wardrobes, tiny closets, a shared laundry room, itty bitty desks and shelves, and a propensity for loaning and sharing stuff? It was amazing that any of us managed to graduate without losing everything we owned.

In mom life:

I used to think wiping someone else's face with my sleeve was gross but... well, wait. I still think it's pretty gross, but I do it anyway. And, I used to try to be careful with DVDs and you know, things I liked, but now? It's easier to just let my toddler inspect it/chew on it/hold it with his sticky fingers, instead of hide it.

Coordinated Outfits For Posed Photos

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In college:

Sorority women take matching outfits to the extreme, and I have nothing else to say about this aside from the fact that anyone remotely interested in this topic should study them.

In mom life:

My family has done one major photo shoot with legit photographers (one of whom happened to be from my sorority, I kid you not) and we coordinated outfits. It was a royal pain to figure out, but thanks to my four years of Greek life, I made it through by the skin of my teeth.

The View From The Outside Is Very Different Than What’s On The Inside

In college:

Before I went through rush, I had a very idealized view of sorority life. Pinterest wasn't around yet, but had it been, my "COLLEGE" board would have been full of trendy and feminine style inspo, faux-thoughtful hand-scripted quotes about friendship, and preppy desk accessories. Guess what? The reality of it was lots of time spent lounging in my sweatpants, eating crackers, and talking about (but not actually doing) Pilates.

In mom life:

I find that my day-to-day life vacillates greatly between like, "working mom who wear sharp heels and has thick-rimmed glasses," "a frazzled but happy mom who is wrestling with her kids in their pjs at like 3 p.m.," and "a sitcom mom who's always breathing heavily and blowing her bangs out of her face in frustration while wearing a boxy shirt in a pastel color." So, not exactly how I pictured it.

Accommodating The Needs Of Others

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In college:

Are you sitting? I have a major revelation: the hundred-ish members of my chapter didn’t always agree all the time.

In mom life:

My toddler thinks he runs the house and most of the time, he’s right.

Every So Often, Being Awake At 3 A.M. Is Amazing, But Most Of The Time, It’s Not

In college:

Remember those awesome nights when the stars would align and you'd find yourself at an epic party with epic people and epic laughter and you all end up back in your dining room, eating bread and laughing until morning? They didn't happen all the time, but they did happen sometimes. And that's what counts.

In mom life:

I'm never happy to be roused from slumber in the middle of the night, but sometimes, on rare occasions, I get a snuggle that's so sweet, so perfect, that I'd give up just about anything for it, including a warm pillow.

Following The Wisdom Of Elders

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In college:

The older girls taught us sorority history, lyrics to dirty songs, which fraternity houses to skip on party nights, and which professors to avoid.

In mom life:

My mom, my friends who became moms first, and pretty much anyone with a child one or more days older than mine are my biggest sources of knowledge and encouragement, aside from my partner. OK, and aside from Google, but still.

Privacy? Hahaha Forever And Ever And Ever And..

In college:

Multiple roommates.

In mom life:

I'm still trying to figure out how to get my toddler son to understand that a closed door is not an invitation.

Working As A Team

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In College:

We looked for excuses to do things as a group. A fraternity philanthropy event? Sign us up! Homecoming? Sign us up! Class in 10 minutes? Let’s all walk together! Someone’s tired? Let’s all go to Starbucks for caffeine! Yes, it was a safety net, but it also gave us a sense of belonging and there’s nothing wrong with that.

In mom life:

I’ve had to rely on countless people since my son was born: my partner, the doctors and nurses who delivered him, the other moms at my baby shower who gifted their favorite gear, and my family members who’ve helped with childcare. It really does take a village (as much as I’m loathe to say trite things like “it takes a village”).

The Importance Of Finding Time And Space For Yourself

In college:

Some girls went running, some preferred to study alone, some went home every weekend, some crashed (or "shacked" as we called it) with their boyfriends to get some breathing room, and some of us (*cough*) played Michael Bolton loudly from stereo speakers attached to a laptop to encourage everyone to keep their distance because for some ridiculous reason, not everyone loves Michael Bolton. Whatever, to each their own. The point is, we all needed space at one time or another.

In mom life:

If I don't take 10 minutes a day to zone out and play an iPhone game meant for people approximately one-third my age, I will rage.

Cleaning Up Others People’s Vomit (You Knew This Would Be On The List)

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In college:

OK, if you weren’t exposed to other people throwing up in college, you were either extremely lucky or, you’ve unlocked a secret to the universe that I would really, really like to know. It wasn’t a regular occurrence — maybe a semi-regular occurrence — but it did happen, and we did bond over it the next day.

In mom life:

It’s a damn good thing kids are cute. That’s all I’m gonna say.

Your Sleep Schedule Is Not Your Own (At First)

In college:

Have you ever heard of a sleeping porch? I used to think they were the weirdest invention ever, but I grew to LOVE them.

In mom life:

Sorry, I have nothing to really say about this. I'm too busy laughing hysterically at the thought of even attempting to my own sleep routine.

Accepting Flaws In Others And Loving Them Anyway

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In college:

Living in close quarters with nearly one hundred women exposes you to all sides of their personalities. The good, the bad, and the OMG did she really just say that?

In mom life:

What are you even talking about? My kid doesn’t have any flaws. Don’t be silly.

You Will Question What You're Doing

In college:

At times, it would have been easier to throw in the towel and pull the plug on sorority life, instead of having to juggle extra rules and responsibilities and rules and relationships and rules. I considered it on many, many occasions.

In mom life:

Did we make the right choices about vaccines? Childcare? Should I let my toddler have more screen time? Less screen time? Should I be trying harder to wean him off his pacifier? Should I dive across the room to stop him from putting that fuzzy Cheerio in his mouth? Hmm.

Committing Everything To Memory

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In college:

Including but not limited to: names of active members, fellow pledge sisters, fraternity houses, locations of my classes, song lyrics, and all the ritual stuff we had to recite on a weekly basis.

In mom life:

Lullabies, night time books, and where I left my son's shoes.

You See Some Weird Ish, But You Quickly Learn To Let It Go

In college:

You guys, I saw an alarming amount of women's underwear just, like, chilling on the sidewalk out in the rain. At first, it was like, "OMG what kind of place is this?!" and then it's like, "meh." You shrug, step over it, and continue on your day. That said, I made it to graduation with having never left a pair of underwear outside so that's a win as far as I'm concerned.

In mom life:

Starting with a growing belly and the image of a human growing inside of you on the ultrasound monitor, pregnancy and motherhood are one long deep-dive into weird, sometimes shocking sights. Also, my son has started eating ketchup with everything, including yogurt, and I'm sorry but that is really messed up, and here I am, witnessing it all the time.

It Feels Like You're Going To Be There Forever, But All Of A Sudden You're Looking Back On Certain Phases

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In college:

The four years of college feel especially endless right up until the very end, when graduation and adulthood are staring you in the face.

In mom life:

Fellow parents most definitely do not need me to tell them that it goes quickly. We all hear this constantly, from the moment we announce our pregnancies. But now that I've experienced it? Now I too am biting my tongue to stop myself from warning parents-to-be about how fast it goes.  

It's Not Always Sparkles And Smiles, But I'm Glad I Signed Up

In college:

The first images that come to mind when I think to my sorority years are passing other girls on the stairs as we zoom to and from meetings, classes, and coffee runs. The second thing is laughing with a group about random things, in random places of our house. And the third thing is meetings. Long meetings, over things that were often very boring and uninteresting. So yeah, the moments of glitz and glamour that I had originally pictured were few and far between...but it was still very much worth it.

In mom life:

What can I say about the joys of parenthood being worth the challenges that hasn't already been said? Every tear, every sniffle, every pant leg tug, every scream from the next room, is totally and completely, one hundred percent worth it.