After leaving our car with the valet, we entered the stately building through polished dark wood revolving doors. Holding our long dresses up, my oldest daughter and I moved into the lobby to check our coats. Waiting in the 1920s style lobby, with a swirl of women dressed to the nines and men in tuxedos around us, we grinned at each other. It was going to be a magical night.
We are lucky enough to have the opportunity of attending a formal ball each year, through a club we belong to. My husband and I had decided, while attending the event last year, that we would offer to bring each girl and a date in their last year of public school so that we could have a grown up affair to attend. Not a “coming out” like days past and worlds away, but just an acknowledgement that they were soon to join the ranks of the adult world. We thought it would be a special and elegant way to do so, and etched the date on the calendar, doing some shopping to have just the right things to wear. That provided some mother-daughter time as well, and as such was a side benefit on its own.
The evening started with a reception line in which we had to shake hands with twenty or more couples of officers of the club. I thought my daughter would balk at the process, but she and her date politely followed behind us, speaking easily to strangers and introducing themselves. I watched out of the corner of my eye, marveling at her grace. Where and when had she learned that? We got our photographs taken standing in front of a huge fireplace, then mingled for a bit in the ballroom before moving on to the dining room. Five courses of what I would term non-kid-friendly food followed, and then speeches from people she really had no interest in. I wondered how this would all go over, but the she was gracious and adventurous and chatted through the meal. We moved back to the ballroom for an old traditional Grand March left from the 1800s, and then a sixteen piece dance band took the stage and provided music for dancing and entertainment.
There was the possibility of so many new and awkward moments; it was not an evening designed for teenagers in any way, and they were surrounded by old codgers “cutting a rug” and playing dress up. I watched her laughing with her date, entering into the spirit of the thing, grace in action. A mother always worries about whether her child is ready to enter the adult world. After last night, I worry far less.