September 24, 2014

MILIAN | I’m Not a Regular Mom, I’m a College Mom

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We all know Mamma. I’m not talking about our dear mothers who birthed us, clothed us and are currently packing our next care package full of mallomars, Goya seasoning products or avocados (the last two are perks of being Hispanic). I’m talking about the College Mamma™ of your group. We all know him/her/they. They’re the ones that always carry SPF 85+ sunscreen on the (scarce) sunny days in Ithaca. The one with the coin purse whenever you’re stuck at Manndible’s register. The one who miraculously had that Band-Aid after you fell on your ass in Collegetown and scraped your knee. Gannett is just that less populated due to these lovely people.

They’re a blessing on rain-drenched earth, and we should all appreciate our College Mammas by buying them multiple LITs on Thursday. Throughout my time in college I somehow became one of these Mammas, and it’s time we College Mammas kvetch a little! While rearing spunky and adorably naive freshmen has had its glorious perks (feeling mature, always having someone to laugh at, hugs in the hallway) it can also be as painful as, well, childbirth.

Take for example my recent trip to Munich: As a self-proclaimed Mamma I took the lead in planning for our well-deserved weekend trip to Oktoberfest. I found the cheapest transportation, coordinated our schedules and purged the net for “How to Survive Oktoberfest” articles as reference. I really like organization, and being overly-prepared, I packed antacid, pain killers, Band-Aids, several outfit changes, water and a term paper assignment for entertainment.

Oktoberfest was exactly as I imagined it, and ran smoothly, since I only had 2.5 liters of Spatenbräu and consumed enough Käsewurst and Schnitzel to be considered a small delicatessen (whoever came up with cheese-filled sausages deserves a Nobel). The only blip on my Bavarian bacchanal was the few tantrums “the Baby” on the trip had. Along with Mamma Duck comes the ducklings, and the most difficult one is the Baby, an adorable underclassman that’s hilarious at parties but sometimes a real pain in the Volkswagen.

The Baby didn’t pack appropriate clothes for the rain-sun-rain of Germany. The Baby didn’t pack food for the total 26-hour bus rides and the Baby didn’t pack an umbrella. And all this would be fine, all rookie mistakes, except for the sense of entitlement that comes with being the Baby. There were actual tantrums, sour moods that are not worth the 140 euro price, and embarrassing faux pas that were worse than getting locked out of your dorm post-shower.

While we Mammas are happy to provide slightly-too-small-and-broken umbrellas, share snacks and provide nonjudgmental advice, we did not sign up to deal with tantrums or resort to scolding college students. We’ll happily lead the way and plan out itineraries, but once the whiny voice comes out, I’m blasting “Fancy” from my headphones: Who dat, who dat? I-G-G-BYE.

So here’s a College Mamma manifesto, to help us matronly college kids feel solidarity, and to teach our younger aged (and minded) classmates to appreciate us more, or fend for yourself. Mammas need to remember that these friends of ours are simply that, friends. Great friends, our best friends, forever friends, but in the end, someone else’s children. Who I should mention, are considered legal, semi-independent adults by the laws of the Old Gods and the New.

Some of my best memories at Cornell have been with my College Mammas. I remember thinking how you were all so accomplished, so cool and so reliable. You were in so many different organizations, knew exactly what bubble tea flavor to get at Café Pacific, which classes to take and knew when to transition us kids from Smirnoffs Ices to Woodchucks. And then, eventually, real cider. While some of you were/are thrust with great responsibility (the Bigs, Big-Bigs, Section Leaders, RAs, PAs, OLs, Managers), some of you “raised” us for fun, because we might have reminded you of your freshman days, or just because you also wanted friends.

And I think that’s why I’m a College Mamma, and you should be one too. That ability to influence is the reason a lot of us continue to proofread your essays for Spanish class, send you our cheat-sheets and buy you bottles of rum. Because we want that legacy, we see a bit of our crazy, young, bright selves in you babies, and want you to turn out better than us. I feel sheer joy when my kids that are eating at Synapsis instead of Trillium, take Magical Mushrooms as a CALS science credit, or take my relationship advice. Even though we’re no experts — and our advice can either work or fail in epic, Yak-worthy results — it’s these bonds that make up the Cornell network, and society in general.

Enjoy your time as a baby, bask in the attention of being an underclassman, respect your College Mammas and then rise to the occasion and become a Mamma yourself. Be the change you want to see in your underclassmen because we were all lanyard-wearing freshmen once-upon-an-O-Week.

Kevin Milian is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]. Milian Dollar Baby appears on alternate Thursdays this semester.