Michelle commented mid-week, “Wow! I can’t believe prom is only a few days away.” Indeed, lots preparation had gone into it. The prom dress search started in December. In February, Michelle fell in love in another dress in a boutique shop instead of the one she had already bought online. After some negotiation, the seller agreed to refund half of the sell price but Michelle got to keep the dress. Michelle sold it on ebay and got the other half of the money back.

In early April, a young man asked our Michelle to be his prom date and she accepted his well-thought invitation. A couple of weeks ago the dress was sent in for alteration, which cost another $100, and now it fits her perfectly. I heard on the radio the other day that the average price tag for prom 2013 is $1,100. It may sound outrageous, but things add up quickly when taking into account the expenses for the dress, the boutonniere, the shoes, the nails, the hairdo, the pictures, the limo and the hotel room. Michelle went with four of her close friends and the five girls would spend the night together.

This is the weekend for Jane to come home. Michelle really wanted Jane to be home for her prom and dad to take pictures for her and her group. So instead of driving to Bloomington IN on Saturday morning, we decided to make half the journey on Friday so that we could head back early Saturday morning. Due to the IU graduation ceremony, the only hotel room we could find was 40 miles away from the campus. We had to take it.

Jane was all packed and ready to go when we got to her dorm. There wasn’t enough time to come home first because Jake had a soccer game at 1 pm. We made it just on time after a 5-hour trip. Shortly after getting home, Michelle came back from the hairdresser and changed into her prom dress. We all headed to the park to meet with her group. The girls looked absolutely stunning, so young, pure and full of promises. Michelle had been checking the weather forecast daily and was convinced that Saturday would be cold and rainy. It turned out to be quite pleasant, a bit cloudy, breezy, but neither cold nor too hot. It was a picture perfect day. Joe took 600 pictures to record the fond memory.

At the end of a long day, I took pride in pulling it together. But I couldn’t have done it without family support: Joe served as the driver and photographer, Jane made it an urgent task to finish packing right after her final on Friday, Jake willingly woke up early Saturday morning to hit the road again. We all contributed to make this day special for Michelle by being there for her. Her smile in the pictures spoke volumes.

Last night I thought about Jane’s prom two years ago. Joe went to her friend’s house and took a ton of pictures as well. Jane didn’t make any requests and for some reason I didn’t make an effort to be there. Today we are a much more tight-knit family that enjoys working together to enrich each other’s lives and make one another happier.

So now the whole family is together again just when the flowers start to bloom and the fragrant aroma hangs in the air. It is going to be a fabulous season. There will be family vacation, lots of sibling time, Jane learning how the real world works with her internship position with a small marketing firm, Michelle strengthening her bonds with her family and friends before leaving for college, Jake having loads of fun at the summer camps. We’ll take Jake camping, fishing, biking, hiking and exploring the nature. There will be girls’ night out. With two babysitters handy, Joe and I will be able to go on hot dates with each other. I’ll do my first book signing on my birthday! What can be a better way to celebrate aging than doing the thing you absolutely love?

Prom signals the end of one chapter and the start of a new chapter in Michelle’s life. Soon our little girl will leave the nest that has nourished her for the last 18 years and learn to fly on her own. It’s a bittersweet time for a mother. But I am ready to let her go. Joe and I want to see Michelle fly high and fulfill the dreams of her life. A strong family will stay together even when they are apart. Meanwhile we still have little Jake under our wings and you bet we’ll make the best of the next 10 short years before he’ll have to start his own life journey.