One day my oldest daughter is making me a macaroni necklace for Mother’s Day and the next thing I know, I’m clasping a faux-diamond necklace around her neck for the Prom. Where did the years go, besides to my hips and gut?
So this past weekend, my teenager attended her Junior Prom. But instead of opting out of this age-defining event, because there really wasn’t any boy she wanted to go with, her best friend, Tania, flew up from Orange County to be her date.
When they woke up Saturday, the day of the big dance, you would have thought it was their wedding day or something. They were full of excited energy for the evening to come, rattling on and on about their hair and nail appointments they had scheduled that day.
I videotaped them getting ready, much to the annoyance of my teenager. Someday, she'll thank me. We took pictures, and then I drove them both to the dinner and dance, which was being held at their high school. A group of selfless parents had been working on this Prom for months, and earlier that day, had transformed the gym into a scene from Arabian Nights. They had created Middle Eastern magic, and it was an incredible sight to behold, belly dancers and all.
Instead of leaving and going home, like I normally would after dropping her off at a dance, I stayed because I had volunteered to help the caterer serve dinner to the kids. My daughter was MORTIFIED! When she found out that I was going to be at the Prom, she said, “Don’t you EVER do that again, Mom!”
I understood where she was coming from, but I was a little hurt. I mean, who wouldn’t want their mother at their Junior Prom? I think I won back a few points when I promised her that I would keep my distance and not yell, “Hi, Honey!” from across the room.
I kept my promise, but I will admit that my eyes often sought her out in the crowd while I was clearing dishes off tables. She will never know how long I stared at her from the shadows of an Arabian Night, my beautiful vision of a daughter, laughing and dancing with her friends like a fairy nymph, her gold shoes that I had spent so much time trying to find around town, kicked off and nowhere in sight.
She will never know how full my heart was that night, and how the mental picture of her so young and happy and carefree, in love with life and so grateful that her best friend from Orange County was by her side, will be a memory that I will call upon often when she leaves my home next year and heads off to college.
Yes, I crashed my daughter’s Junior Prom. But in the end, I got what I came for.
Lynn Armitage is a freelance writer in Northern California, and an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.