Earlier this week, I was at a Phi Mu recommendations meeting with the local alumnae. There were pictures and resumes of tons of girls who are interested in going through what used to be termed "Rush" but is now more politically correctly called "Recruitment." For those who have not experienced it, the term "stressful" does not even begin to cover it.
The girls in the sorority have spent an exhaustive week before it even begins learning names and faces, where to be, what to do, and how to act. Sleep deprivation is a common ailment. Once it begins, there are long days of streams of girls coming through the house and nights reviewing impresssions. Looking less than perfect is not an option, and putting your collective best foot forward is expected.
On the other side, the girls being recruited are trying to make a lifelong decision in a one week period with the added bonus of being at the mercy of the impression of the group. Months have been spent choosing the proper attire, getting recommendation letters sent by local alumnae, and fighting everyone for the coveted hair and nail appointments before the big move to campus. A week of reviewing invitations and choosing, being chosen, or both. It all culminates with "Bid Day" where one side is hoping for the choice girls and the other is hoping for their first choice. Figuring out the dance on both sides is difficult, and as soon as this year's group is in, it turns its sights toward the coming year's high school senior class. And on and on and on it goes.
So, we alumnae gather to try to share our impressions with the groups at the various colleges so that we can at least try to help them sift out the best possible pledge class for the coming year. Getting a good one is paramount to the organization's survival...and laziness, stupidity, or an affinity to acting out is generally not well tolerated. As I was combing through the forms of girls who are FAR more beautiful than we were, one of the most important items I noted was whether the girl's mother, sister, or grandmother had been a "legacy." That status meant that it was more likely that she had heard of our group and was more often than not more interested in following the family footsteps.
Fortunately, my daughter took that route, and she is now an active Phi Mu as well. Made me proud. But she made this choice for her own reasons. She pledged a group at a different school than I attended, and has been very happy there.
Last night, I was treated to a belated birthday outing (don't laugh...although my birthday is in March, and it is July, we are busy women) by my friend, Bonnie. As we talked about our girls - that are 12 hours apart in age...same year...same hospital - we realized that time is running out for the hard court press of motherhood and cramming more information in at the last minute is getting lost in the shuffle. Granted, the job never ends, but the mantle of responsibility for their behavior is sliding off of our shoulders onto theirs. And while we are excited about abdicating that particular responsibility, there is also an accompanying panic as we feel our influence temporarily slipping. We're hitting that wall where they have to choose to stop, scale it, or knock it down. We're on the other side, and all we can do is encourage them to try.
So, as we were discussing them, Bonnie said that one of her regrets was that she did not set enough traditions for her daughter to follow. She wishes that all of the time she spent investing in her would have also yielded more of an appreciation for things that she deemed important. In other words, she was wondering if she had left a legacy or not.
I certainly understand how she feels. But I don't think that it is just us...I think it is a realization that we want something for them akin to what we hadif it was good, and better than we had if it was not. However, we do not necessarily trust that we have been good enough stewards of what was entrusted to us.
For instance, she noted that when she turned 18 years old, she was so proud that she was finally able to vote, that she looked at as an event rivaling getting her driver's license. She even noted the family friend who had instilled the importance of voting in her. She worries that this next generation is missing the point entirely. In my opinion, it is probably because they are too worried about what image they are projecting, how much Coach they own, and what they will be doing this weekend. This is not good.
As for me, I have legacy reminders that pop up in just about everything I do. I can still crochet because Karen Daniel's grandmother taught me to do it when I was 10. I have gardenias in my yard and violets in my home because my grandmother did. I originally went to Wesleyan College because my mother, grandmother, and great-aunt attended there before me, and because Sally Mallory made me come with her on a college visit. But my legacy to Wesleyan didn't stop there...my great-great-great grandfather was the first President of the college. His daughter (my great-great-great aunt), was one of the founders of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. ADPi as it is commonly known...was the first sorority EVER. Phi Mu (the second sorority) was also founded at Wesleyan College...so I always felt a connection with that as well.
I have also seen certain things skip a generation. My mother and my daughter are incredibly alike in the areas that she is not like her Dad, much like I was a lot like my grandmother. I am sandwiched in between two beautiful women and am proud to be the link between them.
So, as we wonder what part of us the girls are going to take forward, here's hoping that it will be a legacy of love, faith, strength, patriotism, purpose, appreciation, mercy, and forgiveness. Sounds like a tall order, but we do have incredible girls. Incredible girls that are bounding toward womanhood at warp speed. And while it doesn't look like it right now, I believe that they are taking pieces of us along with them on their journey. I mean, we have certainly tried to be good mothers. We've had 19 years of trying to "pledge" them into the sorority of womanhood. Hopefully, they will bring our granddaughters into the fold with what we have tried to pass along. I mean, after all, they ARE legacies! Later!