Surviving Your Daughter’s Prom, A Mother’s Journey

Surviving Your Daughter’s Prom, A Mother’s Journey

It was not an easy week, neigh month. Prom was approaching, but no date was secured (that we knew of), no dress delivered, no plans yet made. The week before the main attraction, the date was locked down, the dress altered and ready and there was nothing left to do but count the days. Normal life was happening, and part of that included dance. I watched our graduate perform her dance solo at a competition, she hit the ground with a thud. I flinched, but she rose to finish her dance, and I relaxed until she limped off the stage.

The tears were part pain, part letting her dance teacher down (which she didn’t), and part, ‘what about prom?’ Those highest of heels that took three separate shopping trips and five hours of our time are not crutch-worthy. The dress isn’t crutch-worthy either. A beautiful midnight blue sequined number that accentuates her young fit body hemmed to allow for those shoes deserve delicate silver accessories, not medical aluminum.

But, we can move past that. Take the pictures with one shoe and a date balance or two shoes with weight distributed to allow for less wincing. She’s got this.

While she was writhing in pain at the dance competition, her younger brother was heating up. His fever peaked at 103.3 degrees, and it was two days of acetaminophen to get his temperature under control when he felt better and wanted to go to school. We have a strict, “24-hours without a fever before you can go anywhere,” policy at this house, so he stayed in quarantine in the basement to not spread whatever virus his petri dish was cultivating. The moment he felt better and wanted to go to his sporting activity, which I refused to let happen, he broke into spots all over his face that were itchy and, frankly, uncomfortable looking. Our son was not only on quarantine at that point but also on full lockdown, and I invested in every form of Lysol product imaginable.

Gimpy and Leopard, our children’s new names, were trying to make the best of their less-than-perfect situations when I woke up with a stye. Not just a little bump on my eye, but a swollen mass that is pressing my eyelid down to ensure I am continually seeing something moving in my peripheral vision when it turns out it is just my new eye growth. It was charming when on prom day it began spewing its goo into my eye to ensure all photos of me on the day with our gimpy girl made my eyelid and eyeball a matching shade of crimson.

The good news is my husband was unscathed, and the dog is drama-free.

With all of this happening, the prom went on, and our daughter looked amazing in her dress with the shoe and a runner, and after I quickly hemmed it on her body for her runners, she looked to be the most comfortable as girls were already complaining about their shoes. She had a lovely day with her friends getting ready, an awkward parent and graduate social in which we finally met the boy we had only heard mentioned once, a short but fun-filled prom in sensible shoes, and a party after that was apparently too much like every other party but with more drama.

My advice to prom attendees. It is unlikely you will remember your prom. You will remember the dress and maybe the date because those pictures will be in the albums. You might remember the getting ready with your friends if you did that or where the party was afterwards, but the stress and expectations are so high that it will be hard for you to be in the moment enough to recall all the nuance of the day, including the drama. What your family will remember is how you carried yourself and how beautiful you looked, and they will remind you of it for years to come.

My advice to parents with proms yet to come is it will be okay. The drama beforehand will happen, and you will have to ride the wave. Even our daughter’s least dramatic friend succumbed. Prom is stressful. There is a lot of pressure to look the best you’ve ever looked in the perfect dress with the perfect hair and makeup and to have the most fun you’ve ever had. These are unreasonable expectations, of course, but there is no reasoning with a girl headed to prom.

The truth is, she will look fantastic and have a magical night, and it will live up to her expectations on some levels. Come Monday the normal drama levels will return, and it will all feel like it happened too fast.

Spend the numerous hours watching your daughter try on beautiful dresses and imagining herself wearing them. There will be one that will be perfect, but she won’t know it until she hears it from her friends. Tell her anyway. Empathize with your daughter when someone else chooses a similar dress after all those anxious hours in the shops. Take another five hours in the shoe stores because they are hours you get to spend with the young woman who wore that dress like a movie star and carried herself with confidence in that hair and makeup she spent months agonizing over.

It will be worth it to share those moments even if they felt exhausting at the time. They were far from insignificant. They were pivotal. Enjoy them. It is rare we have the opportunity to see the milestone and prepare for it. The day they said, ‘mama,’ the first steps, first tooth, first date or, first heartbreak come without warning. You have plenty of time to take time for prom. Don’t miss your opportunity to be part of it even if you can’t see what is happening because an enormous growth blocks your peripheral vision. The growth I’m there to lay witness to is our daughter’s. She is the vision, and it was one of the most fun months I will ever share with her. Thanks, Gimpy, for being who you are with grace, wisdom beyond your years, and the confidence I need to see as we send you off into the world on your own. We are so proud.

Photo by Taiana Martinez (Tai’s Captures) on Unsplash 


  1. Fortunately, my private high school didn’t do Prom, primarily because there were only 20 graduates, so I was saved. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the frantic dress shopping – I already had a boyfriend to take me, so that wouldn’t have been an issue – and you’re right. Prom is just another party. I also didn’t do the Wedding. Just the court house and my parents. Looks like I’m not much of a girly-girl. Let’s hope Gimpy doesn’t earn her own punch card to your Emergency Room!

    • Gimpy is much more resilient than her mother, thankfully! She doesn’t even have a frequent patient card at this point and they kept having to ask her name… that’s a good sign. Trigger warning though… I have two things to tell you this month that punched my own card (oops!).

      • At some point do they start giving you a discount? (Snort) I want to say I can’t wait to read about the events, but that makes me sound like I enjoy the gory details. It’s not that, but the way you write makes even the awful stuff entertaining. For your readers at least. For instance, I didn’t know styes contained goo. I thought they just went away after a while. What horrible end result was Leopard’s diagnosis. With the exception of the spots, it sounded like what Ken had last week, except his high temperature put him in the hospital for 3 days. He’s going to need his own punch card soon.

  2. You’re such a great writer! Thanks for sharing. My daughter is only 8 but I truly enjoy all the moments with her…even the drama. It makes me fume and then smile and remember my own young self. I can’t even imagine prom right now. But, I’m sure I’ll blink and it’ll be here…parenting is like that, I guess. Long days, light-speed years. xo

    • You can come by here and read anytime if you are going to compliment me 🙂 Parenting is a time warp for sure. My baby is off to University in the fall. What is that?! How? When? Time goes faster when you have children. They have so many milestones and celebrations that it keeps the clock spinning.

  3. LOL–never a dull moment at your place. And you are right, I barely remember either one of my proms, but I remember all the prep with friends!

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