by Lexi Swinimer
(Iota Psi, Elon University)
Remember when your Mom used to tell you to “keep your hair out of your eyes, always wear clean underwear, and be careful, or you’re face will freeze like that”? And then of course there was the famous, “You’ll miss me someday.”
Well the truth is, that “someday” usually hits you square in the face in late August of your 18th year, when you aren’t willing to admit everything you don’t know but are still really afraid of doing it all on your own… and figuring out how to wash delicates to boot! So when your daughter comes home, knowing how to keep cookies from burning, which cycle to wash her jeans on versus her towels, and is chastising her little brother to keep the toothpaste goop off the bathroom counter “because it requires a blade to scrape it off,” and you are left wondering what alien has invaded her body think back to that quick text about a “House Mom” that left you thinking, “Do those still exist?”
In an age where we are quick to pass on the duties of adults to our children, the Fraternal world has held onto the belief that those who ‘have been there, done that’ still have something to offer; enter your daughter’s “House Mom” or if we are being politically correct, House Director. But to be honest, I prefer House Mom and it’s how I refer to myself, because the job requires a lot of mentoring that is very reflective of a Mother. (Okay, in my case it’s more like the big sister, but hey – it works.)
As a House Mom, I have famous sayings too, “Have fun, keep it classy,” “Remember, you’re always wearing your letters” and of course “Would you treat your mother’s furniture like that?” Because when your daughter becomes a member, and even more so if she is offered the opportunity to live in an Alpha Chi Omega facility, it’s her House Mom (and Chapter Advisor, too) who step in and help tap her on the shoulder when she’s about to make a mistake she’s going to regret, but let her make those mistakes she needs to learn from.
Finishing school isn’t very popular anymore, but manners and class still are. Fraternal life offers young women the opportunity to learn these values, which all Alpha Chi Omegas share, in a caring, supportive, and fun environment. I’ve taught women how to clean a banister, why you should chew with your mouth closed, that napkins belong in your lap, and what it means to be a good hostess. I’ve also taught them how to paint a room, why metal doesn’t go in the microwave, the meaning of ‘rinse your dishes’ and how to install a doorknob. (We’re not helpless creatures!) But most importantly, I’m present. Which means I hear lots of stories (you’d be surprised how many are about home and their parents), give advice, help mend rips, and raise an eyebrow (it’s called the “Lexi look”) when I notice they’re wearing the same outfit from the night before. And I feel blessed to also call Alpha Chi Omega home. It is an honor and privilege to be a part of your daughters lives.
P.S.- Mom’s also say, “I’ll always love you, no matter what.” Same rings true here.