First college parents’ weekend in the books.
My husband and I got home last night after a whirlwind Parents’ Weekend with our freshman daughter at my college alma mater. Whew! We were exhausted when we got home, but we remarked several times that it was totally worth it to get to meet all her college friends and their parents…all in one place. At her university, there is a parents’ weekend in the fall, during football season, for all parents of children at the university, and in the spring, sororities and fraternities have their own parents’ weekends…usually spread out over February and March. We didn’t go to the all-school parents’ weekend. It’s just way too crowded, and I feel like it would be a little like going to Target on a Saturday, meaning all those people who aren’t normally there don’t know their way around and just create chaos for those of us who do know our way around! Therefore, we just did the sorority parents’ weekend. I have friends whose sons and daughters are in different fraternities and sororities, so I had heard how awesome these events are, but this weekend, my husband and I got to experience it for ourselves.
We were a little tired going into the weekend, because we scheduled poorly. We arrived home from a Bahamas vacation late Thursday night and had to get up Friday morning to go to Tuscaloosa. We opted to drive there this time, because we had some things to take with us. It’s not a short drive…about seven hours…but we loaded up the car and took off, caffeine in hand.
Honestly, I don’t remember even having a parents’ weekend when I was in school! Maybe we had it? It seems like we had something like a parents’ brunch, but I don’t think it was like the parents’ weekends they host these days. I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t remember correctly. I can tell you this: it’s certainly a big deal now. There were activities all weekend! Parties, parties, and more parties! We loved it, and we are grateful for the opportunity to get to know lots of people in our daughter’s life…and have lots of fun too! Sororities at Alabama have over 400 members each, so imagine how big these parties were! If 400 girls attend and bring two parents (some bring one, and some bring step parents), you’re looking at potentially 1200 people or more! It’s insane, but it was well-organized.
Mostly, it was fun to see our daughter in her element. She is a freshman, so this was our first sorority parents’ weekend experience. The best part of the whole thing was seeing how happy she is and how much she loves her friends. I watched her talking and laughing with her friends and thought, “Some of these girls will be her friends forever.” I know that, because I still have lots of my friends from my sorority days 30+ years ago. Yes, we actually stay in touch. We actually get together. We talk on the phone and follow each other on social media.
A couple of years ago, we were having drinks out on the patio with our next door neighbors, whose daughter went to the University of Alabama too. Our daughter was out there with us, and we were wondering aloud where she would go to college. I threw out some of my favorite college memories, and our neighbor talked about what a great time her daughter, Payton, had at Alabama. In fact, at one point, she exclaimed, “Payton’s four years at Alabama were the best four years of my life!” We all laughed, because when she started the statement, we expected her to say they were the best four years of Payton’s life, but she even enjoyed it as a mom!
After being there this weekend, I see why, and I feel sure that, if all goes according to plan, our daughter will enjoy her college years as much as, or even more than, I did. It’s hard to believe anyone could enjoy it more than I did. I often say I have had three childhoods: my real childhood, my college years, and my daughter’s childhood (because I got to relive all those joyous, fun moments). I took full advantage of the fun, no doubt. I certainly hope she makes as many wonderful, hilarious memories as I did in the 1980s!
If you haven’t experienced parents’ weekend with your child at college, I hope you will go into it knowing it can be an absolutely enriching experience, and you are likely to make some fun memories. Is there anything more heartwarming and fulfilling than seeing your child happy and loved? That’s what we felt this past weekend. We felt the love and happiness she is experiencing, and we came home happy (and exhausted).