A Stage Mom's Guide to the Prom

(published 01 March 2015, MST)

First, tell yourself that you have to keep it together. 
If you fail to handle this well, you will alienate a loved one, ruin her rite of passage, develop some wrinkles and white hair, or, horrors, overeat. Enjoy the ride. You’re the cool one, remember?
Strike a balance between caring and not caring too much. Remember that for all her show of independence, your ninth grader is still a kid who needs her mother’s guidance and attention. At the same time, this is her prom, not yours.
Repeat after me: “this is her prom, not mine.”
Be prepared to start the process just after the New Year holidays.  The Internet presents an unlimited source of ideas. You will never run out of inspirations; the problem is that you may never be able to settle on one. Ask your daughter who her life peg, role model, girl crush, or however they call it these days, is. What’s the look? Is there a theme? Is there a favorite hue?
Anticipate endless hours of searching for “that perfect prom gown” but  convince your kid that just like in real life, there is no The One. There are Numerous Possible Ones depending on where you look and how much you are willing to compromise. The trick is narrowing your field and deciding if the one you choose is realistic, doable. Give her a deadline to settle on a design. You have to beat the rush, and besides, you can only take so much of the tiresome conversation on what the perfect gown should look like.
Feel lucky that there is a seamstress in the same townhouse complex where you live. You don’t know anything about fabric so don’t even pretend you do. See if the seamstress occasions good vibes; if she does, rest your fate into her able hands. Show her the photos stored in your phone. Arrange it so that she would be the one to shop for the material. Admit that you would be useless in a trip to Divisoria. Cross your fingers that she would charge you “kapitbahay rates” , but prepare to shell out a few (very few!) thousands anyway.  Agree to return for the first fitting in three weeks.
Be thankful that your other daughter has shoes of the same shade of salmon pink. And that the look that the gown calls for is bare, understated, elegant. No need to shop for accessories.
Brace yourself for The Promposal.
If you’ve never heard of what a promposal is, beat yourself. See your daughter come home from school one day carrying a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, and different colored cartolinas. Listen to the details of how she was led by her friends into the school garden, with everybody suppressing a giggle, and how on cue, the boy whose existence you are keenly aware of, sprang the question: “Will you be my prom date?”
Take some lipitor in advance when the same boy comes to your house one weekend to “formally” introduce himself to the family, with a roll of chocolate cake in hand. Smile. Ask about his parents, his plans for college. Hear the Ate and the Kuya inquire about his taste in music and books and movies. Secretly admire the boy’s manners-- and audacity.
On the day of the prom, try to secure a leave from the office. If not, make arrangements to miss meetings, or to work online or in advance. Confirm the home-service appointment with the “parlorista.” Get ready for the clutter that will ensue in your living room. See the girl, all made up, run upstairs, put her gown on, and present herself. Time freezes -- ah, a “Kodak” moment.
Take more pictures, all family members posing with the girl. Go out into the highway to flag a cab and then bring the cab back home to her. Don’t wait for her prom date or other friends with cars to pick her up. She can she can get to where she needs to be on her own (okay,with your help), thank you very much.
Bring her safely to the prom venue, and take a few more photos of the lovely pair. Crane your neck to watch the cotillon de honor, the only activity parents are allowed to watch. And then walk away.
Find a 24/7 restaurant or coffee shop where you can camp out and spend the rest of the evening working. Be surprised that your other kids decide to do the same thing. Enjoy dinner and revel at how they have elected to turn this into a family affair...on a Friday night. Wonder what is going on at the prom every few minutes. At midnight, head back to where you left your daughter, pile yourselves into a taxi, and head home. 
In the next few days, revel in the photos taken of your little girl. Wonder how it is possible she could have grown so fast. Blink twice, and blink hard, if there is anything you might have missed.
Finally, congratulate yourself. Your girl just had her prom—and you’re some woman for surviving it all.