and let me tell you, a good bit of gratitude and a healthy dose of perspective is greatly needed when your daughter starts talking prom -- or "formal" as emily's school calls it. it is easy to get swept away with all the hoop-a-la of hair and makeup and jewelry and shoes and the dress -- oh the dress! this dress she is wearing required us to stand in line at a store in the mall for almost an hour waiting for a changing room. i kid you not. apparently the weekend we went shopping was open season on prom dresses. and every 17 and 18 year old girl in minnesota was out hunting. i have never, and i mean never, waited an hour for a dressing room for anything. but what's a girl (and her mother) supposed to do when (because of a busy volleyball tournament schedule) they have exactly one weekend to figure it all out? we spent an entire saturday going from place to place. keep in mind we are new in town. we didn't exactly know the best places to find formal dresses. i was doing everything in my power to avoid the awful mall of america. but at the end of the day, that's exactly where we were.
last october i posted a piece about my first trip to the mall of america. and you might remember though it ended with a great moment, it wasn't exactly the most stellar mall experience starting out. the mall of america and the mcnatt family does not have a terrific track record. (mall of america post).
so here we were in this insane mall with a gagillion other girls clawing and clamoring for the perfect prom dress. girls with their girlfriends and girls with their boyfriends and girls dragging dazed and desperate looking mothers behind them. we waited an hour in line to try on this dress and thankfully (i mean THANKFULLY) em and i both agreed it was "the one." when your 17 year old daughter says yes to the dress (especially after waiting an hour for it) the heavens open wide, angelic voices sing in jubilation and the light suddenly shines softer -- at least for mother. all we needed was a starbucks to refuel and we were out of there! em started to doubt her choice and i cut her off quickly, "no. no. no. it's lovely. it's perfect. we're done. get in the car. let's go!" i felt my foot leaning hard into the gas pedal as we flew out of the monster of america's parking garage.
now all we had left to figure out was her hairstyle and makeup and nails and shoes and jewelry and clutch and boutineer....
okay, so that was the prom dress. the dress bella is wearing i happened to pick up at nordstrom rack on sale while i was making a return. i saw it. i grabbed it. and i was gone in less than 5 minutes. there was no deliberation. there was no big decision. there was no hour wait for a dressing room. there was nothing but a polka dotted dress in a bag and a satisfied and calm customer.
see what i mean about perspective?
i think both girls looked lovely. i wouldn't trade the preschool thing and i wouldn't trade the prom thing. i am thankful i get to do both. and as much as i might loathe the mall of america, i wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else than by emily's side while she was trying on dresses. sometimes i think about that. i think about when i was diagnosed with cancer and i had those hard nights of not knowing how serious it was. i remember the incredible fear while wondering if i might miss these kinds of moments. that kind of fear changes you. i am not saying i embrace every big and little thing perfectly now, but i am at least more aware of how fleeting time is...how fleeting life can be -- how precious. and truly, we don't need cancer to spell it out. i look at my oldest daughter and i can't believe how quickly she went from her preschool years to her prom date. she looks too grown up, doesn't she? it's what happens. people warned me of this way back when. but you don't really believe it until it's your daughter or your son. your child standing taller and more elegant than you ever were at that same age. and it's one more reminder to grab hold of life right where we are. in the sweetness of preschool or the drama of prom-a...it's all good. it's all a gift.
and whether our girls wear patent leather mary janes or gold, high heeled sandals, it's a parents' privilege to walk right alongside them. to sometimes hold their dresses, to sometimes hold their hands, and always, to love them through the small and big steps of their journey.
those two events also kept my camera busy. i'm including a few photos. we had the pre-formal pictures for eight couples (and their parents) in our yard...also did the preschool photo shoot there with bella. same setting, different day. i deliberately alternated the pictures below...because that's exactly how i feel most days!
emily and some of her guy friends -- before the other girls arrived!
our bella mouse!
em and her date, kevin. clearly having some fun!
the whole gang!
pleased as punch!
em and her good friend, camille -- beautiful!
bella insisted on including minne in some of her pictures.
these girls didn't seem quite so interested in including minne!