I went to one of those colleges that lacked a Greek scene. That was alright with me, since I never really thought of myself as a Greek gal – until now. Since giving birth, I’ve been working on pledging my local chapter of the Mu Omega Mu (MOM) sorority. My daughter Lila has been designated to oversee my pledging. Lila has dutifully spent each day testing my commitment to the organization and its values.
1. A New Identity- For starters, like most pledges, I have been required to accept a whole new identity. Yes, I am now Lila’s mother and not just Melissa; I expected that. However, I did not expect to feel like an industrial strength cow, which is how I feel most days. You see, when we learned in our prenatal class that newborns need to breastfeed 8-12 times a day, that was a fun factoid. Actually living it, and needing to clock each feeding – which can take 90 minutes including burping, especially if my baby is sleepy – is an entirely different situation. On many days, this is what I do. Keeping the baby fed is typically my daily accomplishment, because it is nearly always feeding time for Mini Moo.
2. New Reasons to Celebrate– Like all Greek organizations, Mu Omega Mu has its own idiosyncratic celebrations. Like some Greek organizations (albeit usually fraternities), Mu Omega Mu’s celebrations revolve around the less lofty bodily functions. During the first two weeks, Lila had a great deal of trouble eating because her digestive tract was still so immature. Every time she needed to burp or pass gas, it was a huge to-do. She cried as if the world were ending, which was awful for us to watch, since there wasn’t much we could do beyond patting her back. My husband and I found ourselves congratulating her every time she successfully expelled her air bubbles. At one point we looked at each other – never before had we cheered burps, and yet, this was our new good news. When our daughter passes gas while eating, we applaud her for multitasking. Everything has been stripped down to earthy basics – bodily fluids and functions. It’s fair to say that I am now starring in an extended fart-joke movie.
3. Feats of Endurance – It’s almost as if Lila is doing a riff on a “Seinfeld” episode sometimes. Instead of Festivus’ Feats of Strength, I am asked to undertake the Newborns’ Feats of Endurance. There is the predictable test of wakefulness, as well as the Camel Test – namely, how long I can go between trips to the bathroom. In late pregnancy, I was there about every 10 minutes. Now, I’m lucky if I have the chance to run to the bathroom every two hours. It’s good that Mother Nature saw fit to separate the baby and my bladder before now! Lastly, there is the Thanksgiving Turkey Test. As the baby gets heavier, each day is a little more of a challenge for Mommy’s arm strength; Baby Girl really likes to be held most of every day, and each day she continues to work toward her Thanksgiving turkey goal weight.
4. Extreme Sports – MOM’s membership is fanatical about extreme sports. To prove my street cred to the Lila, I told her I’d had a natural birth; I used no drugs and pushed for two hours to eject her from Hotel Mommy. However, she seemed to be looking for more of an ongoing commitment. So during the pledge period, I have been required to participate in mountain climbing and bungee jumping (and I get to be both the mountain and the bungee cord).
Lila often tries to climb my stomach, so that she can peer over the peak of Mount Mommy. This works out fine, as long as she’s not too fussy and doesn’t try to fling herself out of my arms and over the side of the couch. I’m not sure what she thinks lies beyond the edge of the couch, but she’s clearly not afraid to find out. There is no room for fear here.
5. Music Appreciation – Like all sororities, my local chapter of MOM has very particular taste in music, including a theme song. Lila will listen placidly to WFUV, Mommy’s favorite New York City radio station, which we listened to endlessly during pregnancy; a recent Mommy-daughter dance to Patsy Cline even elicited a beaming smile. But if Lila is truly worked up, only one song will do – Lecha Dodi, which she regularly kicked along to during Friday night Shabbat services while in utero. For that reason, Mommy and Daddy have been known to sing this magical song at all hours of the day, as well as while walking down the street. People might think we’re strange, but hey, isn’t that all part of hazing anyway?
These first few weeks have been a bit nutty. My life has been completely reset. While I spent nine months preparing for motherhood, in some sense, I didn’t entirely know what I was waddling into. There are certain things other new parents tell you during pregnancy – like, make sure to sleep now! But there are certain changes I had never heard about or didn’t anticipate. There is simply no way to know how your child will choose to haze you, until you meet her. It is lucky, in that sense, that you can always commiserate with other new mommies who are also pledging MOM.
At the start, I wasn’t sure whether Lila would present tests that I could manage. But, having survived the first few weeks of Lila’s life, I’m now feeling good about my chances of becoming one of the newest sisters of Mu Omega Mu.