The dress was teal, the nails were clear, the hair was curly, and the tears were real. Taylor, aka Tay, my fourteen year old daughter, just left the house for her first homecoming dance. Before you ask, I'll just tell you, heck no I'm not ok.
I'm different than many parents. I don't think about the benchmarks life will bring before they happen. That's too much stress. I don't read parenting books, I don't take parenting blogs, especially mommy ones too seriously; and as of a couple of years ago, I stopped listening to other parents direct advice. Parenting is heart, instinct, and not making the same mistake twice.
Today was a whirling dervish of emotional clarity. My wife and I are not good, but great parents. Tay woke up this morning around 9 o 'clock and asked for eggs, not pointers on how to handle her first real date. Deana aka Bobina, made her eggs and told me to keep my mouth shut, lovingly. Later, Bo and Tay hit the nail salon and to calm my building nerves, I ran from our house to my gym, about a mile and a half away. Then I pounded iron like a college football player. No amount of sweat or heart rate monitoring could distract me from my daughter's inevitable event.
The homecoming dance starts at 7pm, as I write this, it's only 5:20pm. Yet, a little after 1pm, Tay, with hair straightener in hand, attitudinally started the date preparation. I tried 2 or 3 wisecracks, the death glare I got from my wife and daughter told me to keep watching football, silently. Every few minutes my opinion was asked. I made sure beautiful, stunning, amazing, perfect, flowed from my clueless mouth and I tweeted accordingly.
Bobina and I realized how great we were as parents when Tay was ready, and her attitude had subsided enough to enjoy taking pictures in the backyard. She looked at us with pride, not disgust; with love, not annoyance. We were letting her have her day, and keeping our emotions separate from hers.
I wonder why my wife wanted to drive over to Tay's "date" (I dislike that word) but I figured out quickly that paying attention to the road was distracting her from breaking down in front of our gorgeous daughter. As we walked to her date's door, Tay stopped a few feet short, sighed deeply and smiled at her mom. Why Bo didn't didn't break down, I'll never know, but it was one of her finest moment as a parent. Her date was a nervous mess. I liked his tie, I liked is family being as emotionally goofy as Bobina and I. Tay glowed around him. I hope the little scamp realizes how lucky he is to be in her aura.
The next stop was Tay's friend's house. Her friend wasn't ready. Her family was going through the same motions we were 90 or so minutes earlier. We got details on the chaperoning, they were a little different that we originally thought. Bobina saw the look on my face and rushed me out of the house, politely. As I starting asking questions and worrying incessantly, she told me to shut up and get in the car. As we started backing out of the driveway, Bobina kissed me, perfectly, and told me "she's going to be okay, she's our daughter." For the first time today; for the first time in two and a half years, I believed her.
In case you're keeping score at home.....I've cried three times, I've asked Bo twice if we can pick her up earlier than scheduled, and no, I've not even close to okay. I hope Tay is having a good time, just not too good of a time. She looks beyond beautiful.