The Last Dance


Parenting is filled with finality. I mean, they say your role as a parent never ends, and I get that, but there are little milestones and tasks and roles that come to an end without any warning.

The last time you scoop him up and hold him on your hip, that built-in shelf God made for the ride-along toddler.

The last time you brush his teeth for him, holding his little jaw in your hand and giving those back ones the attention they deserve.

Speaking of teeth, there’s the last one they lose. The last time the Tooth Fairy comes to visit. (Our Tooth Fairy was a forgetful ol’ broad. Teeth often had to stay under pillows for more than one night before she’d swing by with whatever change was left over from her diet Coke run that day.)

The last time he calls you Mommy. That’s a subtle one, but it’s pretty definite. There comes a point when you realize, that’s just not your name anymore.

Most of the lasts don’t announce themselves. They just slowly fade away. Like freckles.

We are straddling the fence between elementary and middle school at my house, with one boy on either side. So when this email popped up from my sixth grader, it was a big deal.
Tyler Dance

It nearly arrived with a messenger and a ringing bell.  “This is a Last. This is a Last. I repeat: This is a LAST.”

I’ll even overlook the absence of spelling, sentence structure, capitalization, and careful punctuation. My sweet boy asked me to go to the Mother-Son Dance with him.  I’m wise to know when to make an exception.

Friday nights belong to Tyler and me, since Tuck and Pete are in the throes of baseball preseason and Friday nights belong to the batting cages. But this would be no ordinary Friday night at home.

I emailed my reply, pronto.

RSVP: You bet, pal.

I rehearsed so many details in my mind. What to wear, and how to not overreact or ask too many questions upon meeting his friends on their turf, what to do for the slow dances, what to do for the fast dances, and generally how to maintain my fleeting title of cool mom.

He came home from school, and I was ready to up the anty with a pre-dance dinner at Chick-fil-A. Milkshakes notwithstanding.

“Mom, it’s been kind of a long day. I feel like introverting. Can we just watch The Office and eat Mac and Cheese?”

Well. That’s a different invitation.

No dancing? No Chick-fil-A? No milkshakes?
No YMCA? No teaching him how to slow dance?
No awkward moments?

So, maybe this Last had already passed me by, then.

I told you, the Lasts don’t usually announce themselves.

But his alternative was inviting on a whole different level.

Jim and Pam.
Michael Scott and Dwight.
Angela and Phyllis.
Stanley and Kevin.
Jigsaw puzzles and mac and cheese.

Introducing him to one of my favorite sitcoms had been an unprecedented parenting milestone, one whose joy I had not appropriately measured.  My children’s sense of humor is nearly as important to me as their integrity.

So this is not exactly an un-invite. He still wanted to be with me. And I think we can all agree that the best dates include Netflix.

“Mom, don’t worry. I’ll get married someday. You can dance with me then.”

Ease up with my the lasso around my heart, cowboy. You’ll have a different date to that party.

It was a comfy, cozy ordinary Friday night for us, filled with our favorite things.

And it won’t be the last.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. When my sons were in college they gifted me with an iPod, personalized with “Mommy.” I cried, of course. And though it hasn’t worked for years, it’s still tucked away in my nightstand.
    The Lasts aren’t always.

  2. Another milestone. His just wanting to be with you (alone) is a bonus. Jealous that you got “mama” for awhile. It may have been there when they were really little, but what I remember most is the constant “MOM”! Or “MAWM,” really drawn out. Seems like I rarely heard “DAAAAAD.”

  3. Just came from Jennifer’s and my 11 year old grandson is on the cusp of “teenage hood”.
    I still see that sweet little boy, but soon, probably next time I see him, he will have disappeared and I’ll be staring eye to eye into a young man. Oh, those precious days before the Last. I remember them well and miss them terribly.

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