Sobbing in the parking lot…

17 Oct

My 12-year-old had her first school dance on Friday. According to her, it was “no big deal.” I think maybe it was a little bit more than that. Admittedly, when I first heard the word “dance”, I was picturing a cute little dress and some party shoes. As a mother, I can’t help it – I have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that my teeny tiny, chubby little baby who used to pucker her lips and make kissing faces while she slept has become a lovely, intelligent young lady. As it was, there was no dress – apparently the dress code called for something more casual: jeans and a top. I only managed to talk her out of flip-flops and into a pair of new ballet flats. (Score one small victory for mom.)

She went to a dance.

I’m not going to lie, I was almost awed by her self-assurance; she went alone, confident that she would meet up with her friends. Maybe I only think this way because it’s the perspective of a mom trying to recall the perspective of a 12-year-old, but I’m pretty certain that had that been a 12-year-old me – I would have needed my friends to meet me at the door, at the very least. As she walked up the stairs to the school, hurrying to get out of the light rain that was falling, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps we had done something right with our first-born.

Do I need to describe to any of my fellow parents the Herculean effort it took not to text her every 15 minutes? Or, even more, not chaperone? I could have, y’know – and I plan on reminding her of that. Often. Either way – I reminded myself that this is my job – to let her spread her wings and venture out into the world, albeit a little world right now.

I’m not a particularly sappy parent. I don’t usually get all emotional at their events, although there are certainly milestones that get me teary-eyed – like their graduations from pre-school, for example. I know there are moms that carry along a pack of tissues to every event, and use them all – but I just don’t.

I went back to pick up my girl, 2 hours after I had dropped her off. I was so…I don’t know…proud? relieved? excited? When she started telling me about the great time she had, about the deejay, about the dance moves, about her friends – I just lost it. I couldn’t get a word out. I couldn’t pull myself together. I just sat there and looked at my baby girl, well on her way to becoming a young lady – and was so happy for her, and in the same moment, mourning all the time that had passed. Realizing that even at 12-years-old, the time we have with her – living in our home, relying on us, sharing everything – is so short. It could never be enough. I just tried to soak it all in, to take a mental snapshot of the moment, trying to capture the look in her eyes, the little flush in her cheeks and the excitement in her voice.

On the drive home, she described all her favorite parts of the evening while I held her hand (she still lets me do that, I can only assume because I’m so cool.) We pulled into the driveway, and as she reached forward to open her door she proclaimed the dance “the best night ever”.

I took a moment to watch her practically skip to the door. And I realized that it was a pretty special night for me, too.

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6 Responses to “Sobbing in the parking lot…”

  1. Katrina - @craftsbykatie October 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    You too? My oldest has now attended 2 middle school dances and I was a mess during his first one. I couldn’t chaperone (thank goodness!) because of his younger brother but sat the whole time worrying and thinking he can’t be old enough for this! His school has their dances on Fridays right after school so the kids attend in whatever they wore that day.

    • Beth - Realist Mom October 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

      I had no idea it would be this tough! It’s good to know I’m not the only one. Thanks for reading!!

  2. Leah October 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    What a great post, Beth. I would be EXACTLY like you when my daughter gets to that stage. In fact, the other day she told me she didn’t need her security blanket anymore and wanted to give it to a kid that needed one. I burst out crying.

    • Beth - Realist Mom October 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

      It’s incredible to me how quickly the time goes. In the first picture, my daughter is holding Betty Bunny, once her most prized possession. I remember feeling that pang when she decided she didn’t need her anymore. Sigh. And thank you for the kind words.

  3. Amanda October 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Oh gosh, mama. How sweet and perfect. My oldest is only 4 and I sometimes look at her and feel like she’s such a grown up lady. I don’t know how I’ll handle it when she’s off to her first dance. Thank you for writing this.

    • Beth - Realist Mom October 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

      Thank YOU for reading it and leaving your thoughts. It’s so bittersweet to be a parent, isn’t it?

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