Less than 24 hours. That’s how long Liv will have been “home” before she leaves in seven loads of laundry from now and heads back to school to finish her freshman year of college.
It’s been a blur. From campus visits, to orientation, to move-in day – gone. A Big Ten game with her parents against their alma mater? Check. Several welcomed and slightly unwelcomed visits with homemade cookies in hand? Check. Christmas Break? Another whirl wind, followed by an early return to IU so she could go through the sorority rush process.
I found myself at home alone during that time, right after our favorite Holiday filled with special traditions. The house was full of over-decorated and underutilized Christmas nostalgia from memories past and I was on pins and needles hoping/praying/begging she wouldn’t get let down for the first real time in her life. Not by me or others for a change, but by giving something she positively wanted her all only to have it not work out.
And yet she triumphed. I remember exhaling as tears of relief welled up, once again greatly proud of this little girl turned woman who was now conquering her own To Do List. The one she crafted all on her own with no input from anyone else and clearly not me since the thought of being in a sorority back in the day ranked somewhere in the intolerable range on my pain scale.
I have grown accustomed to being exceedingly proud of Liv. She is an amazing human being. And while I have obvious bias, ask anyone who knows her and that sentiment would be an undisputed consensus. So while the newness of whatever accomplishment, witnessed behavior, or her general next choice elicits a feeling of incredible proudness in response, I was completely ill-prepared for the subsequent (or more accurately, simultaneous) feeling which surfaced all the way up from the pit off my stomach upon hearing of her acceptance into a sorority: Dread.
Here are some the questions which invaded my brain in rapid-fire succession:
1. Have I equipped her to avoid the forthcoming pitfalls of Greek life, stereotypical as they may be?
2. Will she feel increased peer pressure from her sisters or let’s cut to the chase – from those godforsaken fraternity boys? (I know some of you are wearing your rings or pins or other badges of brotherhood (gross) as you read this right now – please know I’m proud of you for being able to continuing to read and I am not at all wondering if you are hungover as adult Dads on a Sunday morning during March madness.)
3. Does hazing still go on? Will she have to retrieve something out of a dirty toilet with no hands or make some Evil Kenevial jump into a bowl of Jell-O?
4. Is there a “House Mom?” Can I be her?
5. Is she excited? What if she hates it and finds herself let down by something she thought she wanted but it doesn’t turn out to be all she thought?
6. Will she morph into a bevy of cultish drones, embodying some kind of hip “group-think?” Have I taught her the value of not doing that, of being a leader and not a follower?
7. Wait! Mom’s weekend. I have tackled cancer and marathons, but please tell me I won’t have to endure sitting in a parlor mixing with #sistersforlife.
8. Will she be ok? What if she’s not? What if she now lives in a house where she feels isolated by bad relationships?
9. Will she need me anymore? Is this like the final straw whereby she’ll pull away totally, surrounded by her “new” family – a sister(s) that I could never biologically give her or otherwise hold on to for her?
10. Have I taught her how to say NO and mean it and not feel guilty and not give up things she can never get back and be ok enough with herself that she can say NO NO NO! get out of my face, get out of my life, get out of my way, get out of sight?
And #11, just for kicks – at what point do we forgive ourselves for all of it?
My To Do List says before August something, 2016.