We have had an eventful weekend.
Gia attended prom, and as her mom I couldn’t have been more excited for her.
My Senior Prom was wonderful for me. My mom helped me get ready. She not only helped me attend my fittings in the local bridal shop , she made the appointments for my hair and make up so that I was physically ready for a milestone that marks so many high school careers.
It was never any question of who I would go to the prom with, since I had a boyfriend for a few years already. My prom was everything I wanted it to be. We shared a limo with good friends on the way to and from the prom venue. We laughed. We had fun. We danced as teenagers do, without worry of what tomorrow will bring.
My daughter’s experience with her first prom was a little different, but not much.
She has a boy who loves her. He’s good to her. I can see it. He visits her with sweet treats and brings her flowers. He courted her and waited for her to say yes to being his girl. My heart is full for her as her friend, but nervous for her as her mother.
She loves him too. I can see it when they are together. She watches him move. She teases him on occasion and they laugh. Oh, how they laugh together!
My daughter’s preparations leading up to the event were a tad different than what I was used to growing up in the suburbs of New York. I searched magazines like Cosmopolitan for prom dresses that I liked, and visited the bridal shops near my home to try on the styles that I kept from torn out magazine pages.
Conversely, Gia pegged the dresses she wanted for inspiration to take to our favorite designer. She pegged her make up looks and her up-dos on Pinterest to show to Tita Tyn.
There was never any doubt that Gia would go with anyone else to her prom either, but there is this movement amongst her generation to make grand gestures of love and affection through promposals.
So her boy promposed. He got us all in on his grand plan. He called Nino weeks in advance. He planned with Gia’s brothers. He planned with her best friends. He even included Gelli in playing the last and most important role of his grand gesture of love by telling Gia to turn around so she could see him waiting for her and ask her to the dance.
He gifted her flowers, balloons, and an experience she will remember forever. He let her know his feelings in the sweetest way possible. He made her feel special.
We prepped for the event by reserving rooms at a hotel near the venue for prom. Gia made plans with her girlfriends to have a slumber party and watch movies after the prom, as opposed to attending the after party. I was relieved she opted to bond with her girls instead of drinking with her batch at a bar where there was no adult supervision.
My girl had one last request. After the prom, she wanted to eat a burger in her prom dress.
Her request was granted with burgers at The Belle and Dragon. We sat at another table with other parents so as not to cramp their style.
I checked in on the girls this morning before going down to breakfast with Nino to see their hotel room littered with empty chip bags and Instamax photos of their fun together. They slept four girls in a bed, sharing a friendship that many girls hope for.
All of the events from the weekend made me feel a little nostalgic. They reminded me of a time long ago where I was filled with hope and the naïveté of adolescence.
But they also evoke a little bit of sadness, fear and maybe even worry.
When Evangelina was born, I worried.
I worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the newfound motherhood or raising a child with special needs. I worried about the discrimination I knew she would suffer. I worried about whether or not she would be able to stand for her older sister as her maid of honor.
But while that initial onset of worry got me to thinking about the hope of Gia’s one day marriage, one vision I didn’t foresee was the prom.
I didn’t foresee the girlfriends that I want both of my daughters to bond with. I didn’t think about young love and the excitement or happiness my daughters could experience at prom or in the days and weeks of preparation for their own current versions of this milestone event.
It hadn’t occurred to me then, what either of them would envision as their perfect night of friendship and young love for their OWN proms. (If that’s what they wanted.)
But now, as I sit here, and I am forced to think…
I think about all of the work I’m doing to further inclusion and I am prayerful.
I pray for a day when girls like Gelli are not stifled or limited because of the stigma of disability.
Hopeful for the day when Gelli attends high school that she will have girlfriends to laugh and bond with, who love her for who she is. Hopeful that those same girlfriends will be present when she suffers heartache or needs the comfort of a sister from another mother who stands by her side.
Optimistic for the future that can include Gelli experiencing all the same things that I had as a young girl.
Young love, and a courtship where she feels special and loved and honored…
A prom where she can dance the night away, wear flowers on her arm, and a boy who will adore her, because my girl loves to dance and deserves to know romantic love…
I will not rush the days from now till then, instead, I will continue to bring awareness to these same wishes and hopes that brings so many girls like me, Gia, and Gelli to a prom that they can enjoy which is exactly right for them.
It’s funny how things come together at just the right time. It’s funny how when I come to some revelation or epiphany in my parenting of Gelli and I share it here with all of you that things just sync…
This is why I’m excited to share how another group is bringing awareness to children and teens and adults with special needs in another way.
This coming Saturday, here in Manila, more than one hundred teens and young adults have been invited to enjoy their own prom. The Tim Tebow Foundation will be holding a prom of a very special kind. I can’t wait to see the photos from A Night To Shine and hear of the stories that will be told..