The Lonely Prom Dress

prom dress shoppingThe 5 stages of prom dress shopping. That was the original title of this scheduled blog. The idea capturing me as I spent a full day prom dress shopping with my 17-year-old daughter. It was intended to be light. Airy. Funny. It was planned before social distancing and virtual school became our very abnormal new normal. Before events were getting postponed indefinitely — or canceled altogether at a rapid rate.

The dress now hangs in my daughter’s closet representing a time when all we saw on the horizon were spring break trips, campus tours, prom night, and the joy of coming home on the last day of school eagerly anticipating the final summer before her senior year. Not the question of whether school will even start back up in non-virtual fashion or if the current seniors will have one last hurrah with their high school friends and get to walk across the stage in a moment they worked so hard for and deserve.

The dress hangs wrapped in plastic, preserving a moment in time when things made sense. Prom dress shopping in a bustling mall with the sounds of moms and daughters all around, battling over the dress mom wants against the vision the daughter has for her long-anticipated evening, echo inside that wrapping. Outside of its protective covering, the uncertainty whether that dress is destined to be preserved in that state at least until next year dull the sparkle of what was once the “perfect dress.”

The dress represents the things that we thought were so important at the time. The things we found joy in or stressed over. The moments we 100 percent took for granted because there were a hundred other moments to look forward to. Why focus on the now when the future seemed so bright?

In reality, it’s just a dress. We are beyond blessed to have security and our health when so many others are dealing with sickness and uncertainty, but like other things from those weeks leading up to our current environment, it feels like something from a different time. Like we’ve all changed in some way, regardless of whether we leave social distancing and quarantining behind tomorrow and can start writing blogs again about everyday parenting hijinks instead of COVID-19 related content.

Until then, we have to find some sort of normal in the chaos of constant seclusion. For me, that’s writing, so to honor that, here are the five stages of prom dress shopping:

  • Excitement. I will have the perfect day and moment with my daughter, otherwise known as naivety.
  • Nostalgia. Prom is so much fun. Maybe they need me to chaperone, Should I also be trying on dresses?
  • Frustration. All my dress choices are awesome. I’ve clearly raised someone with zero fashion sense.
  • The realization that it’s not about you. It wasn’t my first choice, but she looks absolutely stunning.
  • Ugly crying. My little girl is all grown up. (If you’ve also got your period during this emotional parenting moment, grab the ice cream. All of it.)

When that day comes for all you mamas who will inevitably wish for a little social distancing at some point throughout the experience, embrace every single one of those stages. I know I’ll remember them all fondly when that dress hanging in her cluttered closet that I’ve demanded must be addressed before self-quarantining is over finally makes its debut.

Christie Pettus is a full time working wife and mother living her suburban cul de sac dream in Orange Park, Fl. She is Mom to two awesome teenagers, McKenzie and Ethan, who have come to accept that certain parts of their lives will be blogged about, so they should act accordingly. As graduates of the University of Florida, she and her husband Ryan can be found rooting on their alma mater every chance they get including the more obscure sports. LaCrosse anyone? When she’s not judging her kids' questionable teenage choices, she can be found hiding in a room buried in a good book or writing, editing, and dreaming about being a full-time author.



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