The set-up had all the requisite drama: her years at the school had been up and down, as they are for most kids. But she is MY kid and her drama was confounding at times: she was at a brilliant arts high school, renowned across the country, not just learning the fundamentals, but acting, making films (and such films), and doing photography (what photos). I’ll let you fill in the blanks, but let’s just say there was a lot of second-guessing. Not all the time, of course, but enough of it to make her wonder often and loudly if she shouldn’t just go to another school to “start over”. The inevitable teenagers go-to. The start-life crisis, as it were. But she stayed. And, boy, are we glad she did.
Compared to this, the other drama is a bit more mundane, but it speaks volumes too. Our fashion designer daughter offered to design and make her dress. This was a huge coup for all of us: Michele got to wear an original dress that included all the elements she most wanted, Stefanie had an excuse to design another dress, and we got to enjoy our daughter in all her pretty glory (she was all set to go in a suit because she looks awesome in a suit and loves to be comfortable—and we supported her decision, but were a bit disappointed, as un-hip as that is to admit.) But the construction of this dress had its own dramas: a failed attempt to change up the bodice design, a ton of hand sewing as lace appliqués were stitched to the back and upper front corners (hard to see, but they’re there), and a few discussions (arguments?) as to the best length. There was even a night when Stefanie almost gave up completely––I’m gonna say on the dress, but I think it was dramatic enough that she might have meant her whole career choice. But, again, tenacity paid off. Stefanie remains a fashion design student, the dress turned out beautifully, and Michele felt––and looked––wonderful.
So when the big night finally came, I surprised myself with my own unabashed happiness. There were no tears, no melancholy, and relatively little nostalgia. It was its own wonderful affair, from the girls getting ready at our place before, to two lovely pre-prom parties, to saying good-night as they all got on the bus that took them to the prom venue, to opening the house for many of them to come back here after the prom and finish their festivities until the sun rose and they all crashed on every soft surface of the house (okay, one unfortunate boy found himself on the hard tile floor of our basement). They were beautiful, polite, well-behaved and still had lots of celebratory fun. The next day, I made them breakfast (at lunch time) and no sooner had they finished their last bites out on our patio when the formerly clear sky opened up and rain CASCADED down. They decided this meant it was time to shower: they stood under the torrents and got washed clean.
In the end, all of us just felt … happy. It was a great end, yes, but it feels like we’re already segueing seamlessly to the new beginning.
Deb: Isn’t it wonderful when life surprises you? I am so glad for Michele and for you and Phil that it was sweet and happy and sans throat lumps. You are right. It is a taste of what is to come. And make no mistake, you will likely not say goodbye to her in the fall without tears, but those tears will dry into a new form of life for you and she. The painful wrenching away will become a series of joyful reunions and your life will just slowly and gently start to turn into something new. I love the adult children. The children we can truly be friends with and be ourselves around and confide in and converse with. I’m glad the prom didn’t sting. It was meant to be a sweeter than honey moment and luckily for you, it was.