Even though they may not have the social status of the “Real Housewives of New York,” sorority house moms definitely have their work cut out for them. Living with younger girls, especially sorority girls, can definitely have its challenges. They tend to not get the appreciation they deserve or a chance to speak their minds. To give one of these moms an opportunity to voice her perspective on what it’s really like to work and live with us young hooligans, here is an interview with one of the University of Minnesota's own beloved house moms, Marilyn Bumsted of Delta Gamma.
How did you end up in Minnesota?
“My daughter got married and moved here from Dallas. Because I had an injury and she had a good orthopedist I decided to come out here and fix my shoulder. I was going to move back to Dallas, but when she told me she was pregnant I decided to stay. I got a job here at Presbyterian Homes and was up there until a few years ago."
How long have you been a house mom for Delta Gamma at the University of Minnesota?
“This is my 14th year and I love it. There are times when you don’t love it so much, but just being a mom there are those days. But if you can get past the hurdles and keep going and maybe even take a few sabbaticals you’ll do just fine *soft laugh.* Like take last Christmas, all I did was sit on the couch under a heated blanket and rest. It was amazing.”
What originally made you decide to be a house mom?
“A friend of mine needed a job so I told her she should apply for house director. Since my daughter had started her chapter at TCU, I knew about the house director position. I was used to the young age because of previous experience living with girls that age when I was in California. It’s funny, they were wondering why I was looking into this for a friend when I should be doing it myself. I told them I had another job, but they asked for my name anyways. Delta Gamma called me and I came over for an interview. I didn’t have anything prepared, I was living with my daughter, but they gave me the job.”
What does your average day look like?
“I can’t even tell you my average day. You have a plan and it may never happen. I’m trying to work out every morning early before the day gets busy and it's still quiet. I take off to the Y with another house director, we go together to make each other go. Sometimes we go five times a week, depending on what we can manage. It just makes us feel so much better. That’s how my day starts. But you have to be flexible. Otherwise it could get to you. You have a lot of responsibilities: House Corp, the girls, and the Panhellenic community. After being here all this time I decided I was going to start off my day by sitting quietly in my room for a few minutes and give my schedule for the day to God. Why I never did that before I'll never know, but it takes the stress off. I go with the flow and it works.”
You mentioned you work out with one of the other house moms, are you friends with most of the other house moms on campus?
“It’s different now. There used to be a group of us and then a few left. There were like four of us that went out together a lot. We fit well together, really well, and we loved going out on Mondays to talk about Monday night dinner. It was emotional to see them go, we had all been here for so long. But now we do a birthday club and I make sure I make time for all of them once in a while.”
What’s your favorite part about being a house mom?
"Being around all of the girls, hearing the laughter, and seeing what the young women could do now and knowing we couldn’t when I was at this age. I love seeing all the laughter and I am also able to go to my daughter's house and am surrounded by all of my friends."
What are some pet peeves you have about living in a house with 34 sorority girls?
“You know this year not so much. Others years I have, but I’m willing to look over them; you have to choose your battles. Yeah so, it’s been a good year. I don’t hear a lot of people coming home out of control. Sometimes people would come in a bit tipsy and I can hear them through the walls so I pound on the wall and then there is silence *laughs to herself*. But I know that I’ve changed a lot, so maybe I’m looking at it all differently. I’ve had a lot of cooks but Molly is great and Tanya too. I couldn’t ask for anything better.
Oh actually I know one! People not bringing their glasses to the kitchen! Just rinsing off the dishes quick would be so helpful too."
What is the craziest thing you have experienced while being a house mom?
“Squirrels. During Monday night dinner, there was a squirrel in the chapter room. And I was like go get the bus boy from the kitchen, get a container, and take it outside.
Oh and one night I looked out and saw a couple outside on the shed and I was freaked out.”
What advice would you give girls after having witnessed so much in these past years?
“'The Defining Decade.' It’s this book about not wasting your twenties. I read it and I saw myself in a lot of the pages. Sometimes we don’t make the best decisions and we don’t know how much impact these decisions will have. These decisions are important. Sometimes we think we have our whole life ahead of us, but sometimes they change our route in life. And watch out for your relationships, especially with your girlfriends. They can get you into trouble, but if you really stick close, this is the only time you will have that support system right at your fingertips. If you don’t make those relationships now, you won’t hold on to them in the future and you won’t have the core to fall back on.“
If there was one thing you could change to make your experience better what would it be?
“Having someone I know I could count on if I needed to have a weekend off. And spending time with grandchildren; they are growing up fast. It’s hard to ask for time off, but I think I should feel good so I can give it my all while I am here. It’s hard knowing you have to sleep in the house every single night. Sometimes you don’t sleep as well here."
How would you describe the community in this sorority that you have been a part of while being here at Delta Gamma?
"The best thing is that there is a strong sisterhood here and they all watch out for each other. And it extends past just the current girls. I kept everyone’s number over the years. I love when people reach out to me after they graduate and catch up with me *big smile*. It’s been a good experience. I’m a recruiter. Even when I meet a clerk in Florida I encourage her to be a house mother. It’s very rewarding."
Lastly, do you think of this as a job?
"I don’t think of it as a job, I think of it as a calling in my life. But I am here working with all of you girls, and I like to think that I am making a difference here. At least I hope so!"