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Prom Season: One Mom on Why Prom is Like Childbirth

While shopping for my daughter’s prom dress last spring, the hefty prices surprised me. As the offending price tag on her gown of choice dangled from my fingertips, I raised my eyebrows with concern.

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She calmly stated that the next gown I’d be buying her would be worn at her wedding.

She got the dress.

Ah, prom season is here and graduation will quickly follow, bringing months of continuous celebrations. We’ve graduated one already, and my husband and I were amazed at how popular we became (card with check in hand) on the summer party circuit. Almost every weekend featured great food and even better sweets. “One of each please” was my standard buffet line refrain. Yep, I packed on that freshman 15 in my 40s without leaving town or cracking one book.

Sending a son off two years earlier brought laughter, a few tears, hugs and some fears.

Preparing for my son’s prom experience involved one evening at the mall.

He insisted I go along to pick out his Armani tux, and hunt for just the right black and pink striped tie with matching kerchief. He took forever to settle on the perfect shade of pink for that dang tie. That boy always was a stickler for details, I’ll give him that.

I liked how much my opinion mattered to him; he’s been his Dad’s boy since turning twelve, and I took pleasure in him repeatedly asking my opinion: Did the tux fit well and was I positive the white shirt was the right white? Yes, the tears in this scenario were mine.

And then I wasn’t even in town for his big night! We had to rely on friends to take pictures and on my mother-in-law to enforce the curfew.

Getting our daughter off on her big night required a little more finesse.

She’s a momma’s girl who loves hanging around my home office chit chatting, especially during crunch time when the stress-o-meter is dangerously high. Having lost my ability to multi-task, her presence is a real challenge.

As she perches on an office stool talking about her day, my internal voice is screaming, “For the love of all things holy get OUT of my office,” while a weak smile and my actual voice says, “You know sweetheart, now is really not a good time to discuss what kind of frozen yogurt you had today.”

Her tears came later. She floated the idea of attending the co-ed weekend trip. My answer was easy: “No.” But she countered with the claim that we’d given our son permission to attend his. She was so convincing, I started second guessing myself. Is there anyway in God’s green earth I would have said yes? No way, right?

I called my son at Ohio State and he confirmed that yes, he’d gone on an overnight with his usual gang. I started sweating and my stomach tied in knots. Could I have lost all sense of direction? Could I have actually granted him permission to take such a risk?! Why can’t I remember? Why, oh why, did we ever have kids?

A quick call to my husband calmed all doubts. “Of course we didn’t let him go,” he said. “Do you really think we’re that nuts?” Oh thank you, I haven’t lost my mind. “But wait,” he said slowly. “We were out of town that weekend. You don’t think he scammed my mom do you?” Can we say busted? Yep, that boy worked his magic and got away with it.

The answer was still no for number two.

Prom day finally arrived. Her talented aunt whipped up yet another amazing hairdo and we headed for Jacobs Field. Yep, off to the Jake with prom dress (the perfect one), stilettos, and a boutonniere. As luck would have it, her beau was playing in a charity high school baseball game the same afternoon as prom, so after watching the game, six couples were pinning on corsages in front of a stadium concourse snack bar!

Sounds like a lot of drama, but looking back over the pictures makes me excited for our last two kids. I guess Prom prep is like labor; you forget all the pain and remember the wonder of watching your children enter a new place in their world.

Dani Altieri Marinucci is president of the Parent to Parent Network, a non-profit organization that promotes parent education on all issues impacting the health, safety and well-being of children preschool through college. A former journalist, her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines and websites across the US and Canada.

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