The So-Called Life Of A Boy Mom During Prom Season


The So-Called Life Of A Boy Mom During Prom Season

Girl Moms, y’all don’t know how sweet you’ve got it!

I know you may think it’s a chore helping your daughter get ready for prom. I’m sure dress shopping is an exhaustive battle where cost, color, and cleavage – and how much of the latter is acceptable – all come into play. Of all the girl moms I know, I can count on a fraction of one hand how many have accomplished the search for the perfect prom dress in a single shopping trip…or without at least one meltdown from daughter or mom.

I remember going rounds with my mother because she vetoed a dress I loved because, in her words, “it looks like a wedding dress and you’re not getting married.” 

Still…how I envy you, as I, Mother of Sons, have so very little to do during the two prom seasons I’ve had the privilege of witnessing up close as a parent. 

I do have to acknowledge that both of my sons have styles all their own and at least we avoided the tedious tux rental process. My older son only got to experience one prom – his senior year – after his junior prom was canceled. (Thanks, Covid.)

He wanted a unique look and conducted his own search for his perfect attire. He found a vintage, blue velvet tuxedo jacket from the 1960s that perfectly complimented his date’s pale blue dress on Etsy and we ordered black tuxedo pants on Amazon. My contribution? My credit card number and some minimal advice on sizing. Oh! And I did order a few vintage silk bow ties and matching pocket squares for him to choose from. 

This year, it was Little Brother’s turn to go to prom. And his need for me or my help was essentially non-existent. Again, my credit card came into play when it was time to buy tickets and a fresh pair of kicks, and that’s pretty much where my involvement stopped. 

Last fall he needed a new suit for homecoming so we visited a downtown Chattanooga men’s clothing store known for their nice suits where he chose a white dinner jacket and black pants combo. He selected, with the help of the wonderful salesman, a black shirt and tie to go with it, but ended up wearing a white shirt to homecoming. When we bought it, I told him he should plan to wear it to prom as well. And so he did. The only addition needed to his ensemble was a fresh pair of his beloved black-and-white checkerboard Vans. Once the Vans were secured, Mom was no longer needed. Not even for flowers.

Prom flowers are where Boy Moms really get to shine.

When it comes to selecting prom flowers, the first thing you have to do is ensure your son asks his date what kind of flowers she wants. Wrist corsage? Nosegay? The traditionally awkward kind that pins or clips onto the dress? 

Nosegays have been popular with girls in Chattanooga for a few years. And they are lovely. But, they have a penchant for getting left in cars or abandoned on tables at night’s end in the rush to move on to the after-party. 

My first son’s date chose a wrist corsage and then began the onslaught of questions about style and color. I encouraged him to ask about her favorite flowers and colors. I knew her dress was blue so we had a lot of room to work with. Once I learned that she was a fan of pink or peach colored roses, most of my work was done. I had a Red Bank florist craft one of their unique wrist corsages that is attached to a metal cuff bracelet (so clever!) and it was gorgeous! 

For his junior prom this year, my younger son didn’t need help with flowers. His date, he told me, had an arrangement with a florist and her flowers were being provided. Of course, as the worrywart mama I am, I remained concerned that somehow he had misunderstood and his date would be disappointed. It seems he was right. 

If you’re lucky as a Boy Mom, you might help with restaurant suggestions for the pre-prom dinner. And possibly transportation.

You could offer to host a dinner for their friend group, but so much depends on the girls in the group and their plans. When my older son went to prom, the girls in his friend group made all the plans for dinner and the after-party at one of their homes. My younger son and his date made their own dinner plans. She drove. And, well, that was pretty much it. 

When I was going to prom, wealthier families rented limos for their kids. I don’t really see Gen Z vibing with the pretentious limo aesthetic. I can totally see how the generation that has reclaimed comfort over appearance would be mortified to do something so ostentatious. So, now that you’re off the hook for the stretch Hummer, Mother of Sons, all that’s left for you is to remind your son – if he’s driving – to clean all the fast food wrappers and other detritus of teenage life out of his car for the night and maybe run it through the car wash. Oh…and one more thing …

Remind your son how important prom is to his date.

Yes, some boys care more than others. And some boys are naturally empathic and won’t need the reminder. But, by and large, most teenagers can be completely clueless to the feelings of others. (I’m looking at you, 1987 Junior Prom Date who wanted to leave the dance early because you thought it was boring.)

So, just remind your son of a few basics. His date probably spent hours choosing the right dress, getting her hair, makeup, and even nails just right. Telling her he loves her dress, her hair, or simply telling her she looks beautiful will help make her prom special. But he shouldn’t stop there. Ensure he knows not to abandon his date to go off and hang with his buds. That should go for any occasion, but it’s doubly true on prom night when everyone’s emotions are elevated. 

So that’s it, Boy Mom. I’m sure you already have a plan for the safety basics which hold true for all parents: wear your seatbelt, don’t drink, don’t do drugs, don’t have sex. Call home if you need a ride. 

Now all that’s left for you to do is snap as many photos as the kids will allow, wish your son and his date a good time, and try to mask the mix of joy and melancholy you feel seeing the kid you played trains with for hours on end looking so grown up.

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Dawn Downes
Hey, y’all! I’m Dawn – a native Tennessean who could not wait to escape the small town for the big city. After attending a women’s college in Atlanta, I took root there and stayed. One marriage, two homes, two kids, and 25 years later, here I am, back in Tennessee. My husband moved here in January of 2016 to start a new job while our two boys, Brendan (born 2003) and Beckett (born 2006), and I stayed behind to finish the school year and sell our house. We arrived in July 2016 and have been working to make a happy new home here since then. We love living on the North Shore and I am enjoying finding unexpected beauty and little joys throughout our new city. I am also mama to fur babies, Josie the Rhodesian Ridgeback/Lab mix, and Miller, a sweet orange and white tabby cat. I'm into art, movies, music, TV, pop culture, nerdy stuff like Doctor Who and Game of Thrones and I know more than my share about the DC Universe, Pokemon, Minecraft, Battlefield, and all things LEGO thanks to having two boys.


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