6:30 am. ‘Mum can you write me a note for today about leaving early?’ Miss 16 year old and Master 13 year old come into my room to kiss me goodbye, both off to extra-curricular before school activities. I scribble the note for my daughter in the dark of my bedroom. ‘Bye guys, have a great day.’ I roll over and try to catch a little more sleep after going to bed way after midnight the night before, relieved my husband is a morning person and does the early runs each morning.
About half an hour later, I rise to take Miss 17 year old, Bethany to school. “I’ll pick you up at 12:40.”
It’s her formal day. We have been talking and preparing for months now and there is an excitement in the air.
8:15am. Arrive home from drop off. ‘Thank God I cancelled my meetings this morning” I think to myself as I eat breakfast. I think I’ve used up my emotional bank account for the week and need the morning to re-group in my head, potter around the house, and prepare for the big afternoon and night ahead.
9:00am. After a shower, I tackle the house. Tidying rooms, putting on washing and vacuuming. I lay out Beth’s clothes and outfit for the night, making sure I know where everything is. I want to eliminate any possible last minute stress for the night ahead.
11:15am. Time to vacuum upstairs. I walk past the kitchen on the way to the bin and notice some bananas going brown on the bench. ‘I should probably bake a cake or something with that.’ I think to myself. As I bake this ‘banana slice’, I think it will make a good snack for Miss 17 when she comes home between hair/makeup and needing to get ready.
12pm. Time to get myself ready for the formal pics. There’s gonna be no time between now and then to think about myself so I’d better do it now. As I am putting my make up on, as has happened all day, my phone is going crazy with texts and phone calls about work, ministry and family stuff. I decide once I pick up the girls in half an hour, I need to ‘fend the world’ off’ just for this night to focus on this ‘once in a life time moment’ with my daughter. I think about my own life, leaving school before year 12 and not having a formal of my own. I also reflect how this is an unknown experience for both myself and my daughter, and am looking forward to the experience.
12:40pm Waiting outside the school to pick up the girls. They jump in from the pouring rain and we race off for appointment number one – hair.
1:00pm. We rock up to our regular hairdresser and she sets off to work on Beth’s hair. I think to myself, this is a good opportunity to take some footage of her and how she is feeling, maybe I could make a little multi-media and use it for my ministry to teenagers about femininity? Bonus! I want to capture the moment as much as I can, so in the next hour and a half, I randomly take 1-minute videos of Beth getting her hair done, her sister interacting with her and laughing and having fun. Her hair looked elegant and stunning.
2:30pm. We race to appointment number two – make up…we are running late, plus its raining and who knows if they can still fit her in, but we are going to try! I’ve rung ahead, so we race into Napoleon at the shopping centre and they set to work, two at a time, working on her make-up and they are done in 20 minutes…WOW. It was crazy. ‘She looks amazing’ I think to myself. Her sister, whom I’ve sent to Target to find umbrellas comes back in 20 minutes, in shock to find Beth is already done!
3:00pm. Race to pick up Master 13 year old from school on way home from makeup. “Helloo!!’ was his response when he saw his sister all dressed up. It was so beautiful. We went home, ate freshly baked banana slice (in bite size pieces of course), paint nails, everyone else gets dressed and get even more excited!
4:30pm. Time for Beth to get dressed. Off we go into the room, sister comes for help to make decisions on which earrings match, and she emerges; this beautiful first-born of mine. Beautiful inside and out. The kind, funny, ‘team player spirit’, beautiful girl; looking just as beautiful outside as we know her to be on the inside. She is exquisite and my husband and I have a special moment. Priceless.
5:00pm. Her date arrives with his family, where we take pics and have fun. Now, off to the ‘Pre’. I think to myself, wow, this really feels pretty amazing, she must feel so excited! How exciting is it to dress up and go have fun with all your friends who you’ve been journeying with for so long?
5:15pm. We arrive at the pre at her friends house in the pouring rain. Beth and her date walk in and he tries to figure out how to put her corsage on. I look around at all her friends all dressed up so beautifully and see a little sister, about 6 years old, who has her ‘Elsa’ dress on, wanting to join in on the dress up party and now crying to her mum that she wants to go too. I marvel at this moment that no matter what age, our female heart desires to unveil the beauty God put inside us. Even now, as a nearly 40 year old, I think, I am the ‘old mare of the paddock’ but feel content that this is my time to show the younger mares what life and being a woman is all about and to shine the path forward. I feel satisfied and content at the role I now play and wonder when I came to a place of peace about that. I snap back into the present when Beth’s date asks me for help on how to put on the corsage. I laugh and join in the fun.
6:00pm. I say goodbye to my daughter, wish her luck and me and my husband drive back in the rain. My other two children are waiting at home and my husband was going to watch Australia play NZ, but that got cancelled so he heads off to catch up with his mate for dinner and drinks instead. I order pizza for the other two and myself, pour a glass of wine and head in to call one of the young adults I mentor, who has been waiting for a chat when I was free.
9:30pm. I put my son to sleep, kissing him goodnight and say prayers with him.
10:30pm. My husband returns home and it’s time for me to head out to collect Beth and her date and take them to the post. Beth texts me and asks me if we can take a friend to the post-party as well. ‘Yup, as long as her folks say its all good.’ They are all full of laughter and fun as they hop in the car, talking about how sore their feet are from the heels (I chuckle inwardly to myself, remembering these first lessons of life) and we stop by a 7/11 for petrol and a slurpie. They are all looking gorgeous even now – no shoes, slurpie in hand, on a high from dancing at the formal.
11pm. I drop them off at the ‘post’, after meeting the parents and ensuring no alcohol of course. I drive home to collapse in bed and my husband sets the alarm for 1:30 to go collect them from post.
It takes me a while to get to sleep. I think about the day, about how I could’ve been in meetings all day, could have expended even more energy, and am grateful for the decisions I made to cancel appointments. This was a moment in time, with pictures decorating my face book wall to remember the moment. A bit like ‘rites of initiation’ into adulthood. Learning about inner beauty and outer beauty. Learning about wearing-in high heels and owning the dress you choose. Learning to resist the sex saturated culture and wear a dress where beauty is unveiled, but objectification is not. Learning to love your choices. Realising as a parent that yeah I made some good choices, but the goodness in my child has really been there from birth. That she is this amazing, divine daughter who loves everyone, including us. We couldn’t be more proud. I try to fall asleep thinking about all this…and suddenly remember that in just two weeks time, Miss 16 year old has her semi formal and we will do it all over again!
What a wonderful crazy time of life this is!