When I tell people what my job is, I usually get a lot of blank stares and furrowed brows.
What in the world is a dorm mom, and how do you actually live with 20 teenage girls?
Today, I thought it would be fun to share a little bit about what I do, how I survive living with all these teen girls, and why I think it is the greatest job in the entire world.
DORM MOM LIFE- WHAT IS IT?
My husband is a math teacher at a private boarding high school in the southwest. He has always lived this life, and we actually met 20 years ago when we were both teaching and coaching at another boarding high school back east. We fell in love, got married, and moved out west to the school where we are today. Nestled along the front range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the city of Colorado Springs, and the school where we live and work is 100% my happy place.
But dorm mom life? What even is that? Well, since our school is a boarding school, roughly 60% of the students live here during the school year. It’s like a college campus but for high school. Think “School Ties” or “The Facts of Life”, but without the stuffy uniforms or Mrs. Garrett.
Since many of our students live here on campus, our school has 10 dormitories, each which houses 16-20 boys or girls. (no coed dorms!) Our particular dorm can house 20 girls a year. And connected to each dorm is a faculty residence, a house attached to the dorm, but separate in that the faculty family lives separately from the girls in the dorm. It’s as if instead of a back door leading outside, the back doors of these houses open up to hallways of boarding students.
Yes, the house that my family lives in is connected to a dormitory housing up to 20 teenage girls at any given time. And yes, we’ve chosen this way of living on purpose. We actually asked to be placed in one of the dorm houses on campus. And I always joke that we will be old and retired and still wanting to live as dorm parents. Insane right?
BUT WHY? WHY THE DORM LIFE?
Life is crazy enough with 3 kids right? And a job you never really leave at the end of the day… so why choose to live with teen students?
Gosh, I’m not sure I can actually answer this in a way that justifies how much I truly love this job. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had my share of tough years, and tough girls. I’ve had trips to the ER on random Tuesday nights for girls, I’ve sat through boy drama, and mean girl drama, and roommate conflicts. I live with teen girls. Life is not unicorns and rainbows over here.
But there is something amazing about living year after year with a house full of girls. Or rather a lot of amazing little “somethings”:
It’s seeing each girl’s face as she blows out the candles on the birthday cake that you baked for her.
It’s having a successful and fulfilled adult woman text you a decade after graduating to tell you that you had an impact on her younger years and that she’s thankful for you.
It’s playing card games like Nertz at 10pm at night and laughing so hard at how competitive that one shy girl in the house suddenly becomes!
It’s hugging a girl as she cries, saying goodbye to you and all the girls she’s come to know and love, as she prepares to head back home to Germany.
It’s breathing deeply through endless house meetings filled with “Can we PLEASE start cleaning the hair out of the shower drain? It’s disgusting!!” Every. Single. Year.
It’s boy drama, friend drama, homework drama, period drama, homesick drama, and back to boy drama- all in one night, sometimes.
It’s having a girl run across the campus quad after a summer vacation to give you a great big hug. Those are the best hugs.
It’s watching your girls sing in the school musical, or hit a 3 pointer, or win the 500 meter freestyle, or play the violin in the winter concert, or earn a leadership position. Or just see her. Anywhere on campus, on any given day.
After 20 years of living the dorm life, I could add hundreds of “somethings” to this list. Some of them are so small and seem so unimportant, but years later, I’ve realized how they’ve changed the girls and me. Living with teen girls means years of teaching them about life, and having them teach me so much more.
I have learned more about life, about family, about real love and trust, about building confidence and empowering women from the girls in my dorm, than I ever could have anywhere else. Living with girls helps me be a better mom, and a better woman. My years as a dorm mom have confirmed in me that this was the one job I was meant to do- to empower teen girls, to build confidence in women and girls.
It’s funny. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to be a mom. I knew I would absolutely love it. And when it comes to my own 3 children, I was absolutely right. I just had no idea that I’d love it so much that I’d add a house full of girls to the mix every year.