Rush process surprisingly emotional

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Usually my column gives me a chance to tell you amusing things about my children but today I have to tell the truth and poke fun at myself. As most of my readers know, my oldest child, Holly, is a freshman at Ole Miss. Last week was mid-term exams and also rush week. Now, first of all, let me clarify something. I went straight to nursing school at St. Dominic’s in Jackson from high school. On the first day of class Sister Maura, the Dominican nun who was our dean, told us how much our annual dues would be for the Mississippi Student Nurses Association would be and we paid them right them. Fifteen minutes later, we began class and never looked back. So the only dealings I had with the Greek system was my boyfriend’s fraternity at Millsaps. And he endured endless ribbing from me about his &uot;secret rituals,&uot; &uot;pledge of brotherhood&uot; and his belief that his status as a Lambda Chi was a lifetime commitment.

So close to end of my daughter’s senior year I was instructed by friends to begin the process of obtaining her recommendations, or &uot;recs,&uot; and have plenty of photos and copies of her resume ready to go. Much to my surprise I soon found out that women I saw everyday and thought I knew had a whole other side to them. Not only were they teachers, mothers, accountants, and business owners but they were Kappas, Chi O’s, DG’s, Tri Delts and a whole host of other names I had never heard of. And they took me by the hand and guided me through the process of getting Holly ready for rush.

I have to confess that not only did I find the whole process rather elaborate and daunting, but I really wasn’t sure I found it all that important, something I was careful not to voice to anyone else but to myself. After all, what difference could this possibly make in the years to come, and wasn’t it simply another type of club for my daughter to join and spend money on?

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As the summer wore on we made sure every sorority represented at Ole Miss had been contacted, pictures and resumes were mailed and for several even more pictures were mailed. And on any shopping trip my daughter was mindful of looking for &uot;rush clothes.&uot; As last week drew nearer friends began to call the house or my cell phone, some requesting more photos, especially ones of her smiling or showing diverse activities, some asking was she leaning toward one or the other sorority and some letting me know they were sending letters for her and asking friends to do the same. By now I admit I was completely bemused with the entire process, but I was beginning to see there was more here than I had previously thought.

At Ole Miss home games girls &uot;dropped&uot; by our tent to say hello to Holly, her brother, sister and me. They casually referred to their sorority so as not to be accused of &uot;dirty rushing,&uot; never outright asking her what she thought but subtly mentioning how much they loved their own groups. The Saturday before rush I was in Oxford at a little shop on the square when I noticed a large stack of gifts, and the saleslady very kindly explained the whole process of sending your daughter &uot;a happy&uot; to help her through this stressful time. Yeah, you guessed it, I signed right up.

By the first night of rush I was sold; it mattered to Holly and therefore it mattered to me, it was important to her and therefore it was now critical to her sister and me. Her brother now the only calm one involved at all. I waited on the nightly and early morning calls that told me what progress was being made, who had been cut and what decisions had evolved since the last phone call.

Monday I was out of town but with my cell phone so as not to miss a single thing. And the call finally came; my daughter, who has always been non-group oriented and believed in not showing your emotions in public, was on the line with much screaming and yelling in the background. She was officially a Kappa Kappa Gamma,and I could hear the emotion in her voice as she told me the final news. Funny thing was, I could also hear the emotion in my voice as I told her how proud I was for her, and somewhere I knew her daddy was laughing and saying &uot;I told you so.&uot;