At the dance, unadorned

I’ll admit it. Sometimes I can be a bit of a stingy whiner. 

I don’t understand all the fuss over some of life’s traditions. I see them as a hassle and often a waste of money. 

Some examples include, buying a new dress for a high school dance (can’t you just wear one you already have?), pro manicure/pedicure (can’t I just polish your nails for you?) or special location photo ops before the dance* (can’t we just do it at home in front of the fridge?).

I have been overheard to gripe more than once, “Why doesn’t everyone forget this annual formality and we can keep our money with less stress?” To me it’s so obvious, so simple. What I forget during my whining diatribes is that some of these annual formalities are important to the people who are important to me.

I had that gut-dropping realization hit me when it was too late to do anything about it.

A dozen, dressed to the nines high school girls with their hair and makeup perfectly coiffed grinning ear-to-ear posed for photos in the fanciest hotel lobby in our area. My daughter Hazel included. She looked stunning in red and if I do say so myself, outshined everyone. As I snapped photos of her sweet smile, my pique over dragging myself down to the photo op location on such a bitterly cold and rainy day melted away. Then I noticed how my daughter stood out from everyone else in another way. She didn’t have a corsage.

Every single one of the girls had one on their wrist, even the girls without a date. In other words, the single ladies’ mindful moms bought their daughters a dress color-coordinated corsage. My heart sank as I realized it had never occurred to me to give her one for her last high school dance, senior prom.

I felt like a mother of a heel. Everyone else had thought of it but I didn’t. How could I forget such a thing? 

I’m not proud to admit my first thought was the ridiculousness of the corsage.** What is the point? Why do we keep this stupid tradition alive? Let’s save ourselves the hassle and keep our money! 

Steeped in selfishness I was completely missing the point. I should have been thinking about what was important to my daughter. Just like when she told me the day before after I balked at another location photo op that it wasn’t just about taking pictures at a fancy hotel lobby, it was about me, her mom, being there with all the other mindful moms to take pictures of a special moment in her life.

Later I texted Hazel and apologized. 

“It’s okay:)” she texted back.

“I still feel bad,” I replied.

“Don’t feel bad I didn’t ask for one.”

This would have matched
her dress perfectly.

She was majorly letting me off the hook and I know she was disappointed. While I appreciate how forgiving she is, I should have known to buy her one. Even though I never went to a single formal dance in high school, this wasn’t Hazel’s first rodeo.  Her senior prom was her second with four homecoming dances under her belt. Should she have to ask for a corsage?***

However you answer that question, let’s agree this heel of a mother needs to surprise her daughter with a rose to prove that even though her mom may kvetch ad nauseam about perceived expensive/inconvenient traditions, she understands why the corsage was important and she’ll try to be a more mindful mom from here on out.

*One year the location of choice was the “green” space area of our local hospital. With the featured fountain turned off for the season, dead foliage in abundance and a dilapidated gazebo perfect for group pics, it set a uniquely ramshackle mood for homecoming photos. I don’t recall any tumbleweeds.

** My second thought was how Gomer Pyle pronounces corsage in the Andy Griffith show episode, “A Date For Gomer.” skip to 20:19. And while we’re at it, why am peering over a woman’s shoulder? Why does everyone sound like Alvin, Simon and Theodore?

***Fun fact about corsages: They were worn in ancient times to ward off evil spirits. Now that we know, can we stop wearing them? Just asking.

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