Last week, my daughter announced that she was going to Homecoming. And then she asked if I would take her shopping for a dress.
I naïvely said yes, excited over the prospect of spending quality time with my kid and having zero concept of what I was getting myself into.
I remember my own homecoming experience, of course, but that was… a lot of years ago and from an entirely different point of view. And as she is my one and only, I did not have any previous parent-point-of-view experience from which to draw.
So when I say I naïvely said yes, I mean, seriously, I had no freaking clue what I was getting myself into on that lovely, mild Saturday afternoon.
Her best friend went with us, of course. This I do know about teenage girls: they cannot make a decision alone. There must always be someone of the appropriate age and respect level to whom they can turn to and said, “What do you think?” before agreeing to anything. And I do mean anything.
Me: How about we pick up your bestie at noon and we’ll eat lunch before we go shopping?
My daughter: Hang on, let me text her and see if she approves of this idea.
Me: If you’re going to wear foundation, we should have a professional help select the right shade so you don’t have that line under your chin like we used to when I was a teenager.
My daughter: Hey, bestie, what do you think? Do you agree with her?
Me: Slow blink, blank stare.
Me: Hey, why don’t we eat at On the Border for lunch? (Mostly because OTB serves margaritas and even though I didn’t truly grasp at that point what was about to happen, I knew I was going shopping with two teenage girls and that was enough to desire a drink or two before embarking.)
My daughter to her friend: What do you think? Would you rather eat at the food court?
Friend: Yeah, that’s cool.
See how that worked out for me?
So we went to the food court in the mall, which, for the record, is my least favorite place in the entire world to eat. First, it’s really, really loud. And chaotic. Second, there’s no alcoholic beverages. Third, I got food poisoning from this particular food court when my daughter was a wee toddler, and while it took three days to recover physically, I’m still not entirely emotionally over the experience.
(This time around I had a vegetarian pita that was quite delicious and did not, for the record, give me food poisoning.)
After lunch was an obligatory stop at Starbucks because this is another thing teenage girls cannot live without.
And then we officially began Homecoming Dress Shopping. By began, I mean we dove right into the deep end. The very first store was nothing but racks and racks of brightly colored, fancy dresses with hardly an inch between for patrons to squeeze through on our search for the perfect silk and satin and tulle and lace. Those dresses were—wow, were they ever short!
That was my first shocker. When I went to homecoming a thousand years ago, it was practically a mini-promo. Like a prelude or maybe practice. And yes, while I’m grateful for the much smaller price tag these days, that money we’re saving is a direct result of a lot less material.
These dresses were also backless. And had cutouts in the front and the sides. Some were two pieces with great gashes of abdominal skin showing in between. Oh, and skintight. And did I mention short?
Did I also mention that my daughter is (only) fourteen years old?
The bestie came up to me before they truly dove into the process and said, “So, is there anything off limits?” When I asked what she meant, she said, “Like, anything that is a definite no? Backless, too short, that sort of thing.”
Props to the kid for asking, eh? I almost said, “Good luck finding something if I list even one style as off limits,” but I didn’t.
I said, “I trust her judgment.”
And off they went.
Well, until they found the first dress, anyway. And then the second. And then I became a living dress rack who followed them around as they flitted from rack to rack, loading me with this and that and no, not that one but how about this one…And finally, when I could feel the carpal tunnel flaring, they decided to get into the (really, really long) line for the dressing rooms.
As weird as it sounds, that part was actually fun. In the line, and then lounging in the waiting area while the girls tried on dress after dress after dress; that was where the parents bonded. Oh, and grandparents. We complimented each other’s children, we commented on the length of the dresses; we offered up the tiebreakers when it came down to two equally loved gowns. And we unanimously agreed that the place would double their profits if they had a wine bar set up in the waiting area.
For the parents, of course.
Eight different garments later and the very first one my daughter tried on was the fave.
But we’d only been to one store, so of course we had to go to at least one more and scope out their offerings.
The next store sold prom dresses too, so guess what we did? Yep, tried on prom dresses. They found totes adorbs ones too, and I pointed out that their tastes and dress styles would very likely change before they’d be heading off to prom, but still; it was fun to twirl in front of the mirrors and take selfies.
And then finally, finally, the decision was made. We returned to the first store and bought the first dress. It’s a high-necked, sleeveless gown in deep purple, with a flouncy, not too short skirt. It’s gorgeous, and so very grown up and perfect for my not so little anymore girl.
(And no, I have no pics yet – although this dress is pretty similar. And yes, it has pockets! I wasn’t allowed to take pics, but I finagled an agreement that there would be ridiculous amounts of picture-taking on the day of homecoming.)
By the way, this homecoming dress shopping excursion lasted for over five hours. Much of that was waiting in line for the dressing rooms, but there was also jewelry and shoe shopping and of course a visit to the smoothie store (because Starbucks wasn’t enough?!). When it was all said and done, we completed the outfit in one day flat, which was my personal objective, so yay!
And we ended the day with dinner that wasn’t in the food court (or even in the mall!), and definitely included wine. And then we went home and her bestie’s grandma met us there and my daughter put on the full ensemble and showed it off for us.
And that’s when it hit me that my baby girl is not a baby anymore.
Although yes, she’s still my baby. And she always will be, no matter how many homecomings and proms there are in her future.
Tami Lund is an award winning, best selling author who also now claims to be an expert homecoming dress shopping mom. And yes, she has a new release coming out in a couple of weeks. Click the pic!