As a child growing up, I loved to watch Miss America. The idea of walking across the stage in a beautiful gown to be crowned and presented a title and a large bouquet of flowers seemed to be a fantasy come true. I knew that fantasy wouldn’t come true in my future, but as one who didn’t wish to be in the spotlight living vicariously was fine for me.
Last weekend I was again able to live vicariously through my daughter as she represented the little town we live in at the Miss Teenage California Scholarship Pageant. I know, I know, good parents don’t vicariously live their lives through their children---but I must tell you it’s hard not to get caught up in all the pageantry and competiveness.
I’m the type of gal who gets her hair cut every so often, rolls out of bed in the morning worried only about which clothes are clean, and has never plucked or waxed any hair on my head. I am a wash and wear gal with both my hair and my clothes. I’ve tried to pass on some girlyness to my daughters---I take them to a make-up lesson when they turn twelve, but for the most part they choose to follow my example and go bare-face. They all have long beautiful thick hair, but unless it’s a special occasion they don’t usually style it. We do own a hairdryer and curling iron. The hairdryer was purchased at a thrift shop 15 years ago, and I’m not even sure where the curling iron came from---turns out both are out of date! Who knew that could happen?!
So how did my daughter end up in a pageant? It looked good on paper—$10,000 scholarship prize to the winner and another $7000 to be shared among other positions. Who could pass up that opportunity? So we got the ball rolling and asked for and received a nomination which allowed A-M to enter the first level of competition through an application process. She was accepted and received a local title which sent her to the state pageant as contestant number 87.
Next step was figuring out what she was going to wear for the various parts of the pageant. A-M has attended many formal dances and has quite a bit of formal wear in her closet. So she was set, right? Well, I must admit this is when the Pageant Mom in me started peeking out! All the dresses she already owned had been bought at thrift shops—something that doesn’t bother me or her—usually. I wanted her to have something special that she would feel confident in. So after asking around, I found the shop to go to in our little town.
Turns out pageant gowns can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars! Who knew? We found a beautiful dress for much less than the thousands of dollars but still in the hundreds of dollars category! It flowed and sparkled! And had to be ordered and altered! And was beautiful and did I mention it sparkled?!
Next came the search for the After Five knee length pastel dress that was required. Not knowing what an After Five dress was, my relationship with the internet and all things pageant began. Turns out an After Five dress is a more age appropriate way to say cocktail dress! We looked and looked some more. Needless to say after satisfying the Pageant Mom in me with the first pageant gown, my wallet dictated I not let out the pageant mom in me out when looking for this second dress. We found it at a shop that is perpetually going out of business. For $15 we found a cute little pink dress. It had two stains on it! But we figured it was worth trying to remove those stains. $15 later---the drycleaner returned a sparkling clean looking like new dress. Thankfully my inner pageant mom had been suppressed—for the time being.
Now came the really hard part-- raising money for sponsorships. Did you know it cost money to enter pageants? And I’m not talking about a $35 entry fee. No, pageants cost thousands of dollars to enter. It is suggested one find local business that would like the advertising that is offered in the program. And of course family is also helpful in this endeavor! Thanks Aunt T, Polly, and Grammy! The sponsorship part of the pageant was the most stressful as well as time consuming part of the pageant prep.
Dresses ordered and altered. Sponsorships gathered. Shoes bought. Time to sit back and wait for the pageant. Turns out not! A friend who is quite girly and who has competed in national dance completions let me know about some last minute details I shouldn’t forget---accessories, eye-brow waxing, and a make-up and hair run through! Now my Pageant Mom part of me wants to hide because she has no experience with any of these things! Turns out my friend has already figured that out and is there to lend a helping hand. Out comes her boxes of jewelry and we find just the right necklace and earrings. Next she leads us to her bathroom and her tower of hot rollers. I get a short tutorial on the mohawk theory of curling hair. And last but not least, she emails me the name of the lady who waxes her eyebrows.
In the car after her first ( and most likely last) eyebrow waxing, A-M tells me all this prep is just way too complicated. To compete in a swim meet she throws a swimsuit, towel, and goggles in a bag and is good to go. Why can’t a pageant be like that? Yes, indeed—why can’t a pageant be like that?
After thinking about that I had an AHA moment. A-M does prepare for her swim meets by practicing over and over again for hours a week. Pageant prep isn’t that much different. It requires practice, practice, and more practice. I’m sure there are lots of girls for whom shopping and accessorying is second nature—I’m sure showing up for a pageant is throwing stuff in a bag and heading out the door---because all the prep is just a natural part of their lives.
Pageant weekend. I go down with A-M on Friday night—the rest of the family will join us Saturday and Sunday. Friday night is orientation—immediately after orientation A-M texts me a list of stuff she needs that she’s left in my room or in the car. Right then and there I figured out part of being a Pageant Mom was to be at the beck and call of your daughter during pageant weekend. I grumbled a bit in my head at that point because I had already changed into my sweats for a nice quiet evening alone in my hotel room. I almost grumbled out loud when I got two texts before 7:00 AM the next morning about a pair of heels she needed that were in my room. That is when I first questioned my Pageant Mom status. Of course I had it easy as A-M’s roommates’ parents drove 4 hours to retrieve a bag left behind that contained much needed eyeliner!
Late Saturday morning came the real test of my abilities as a Pageant Mom---time to do hair for the first time. Before I share how things went---you must know that my hair experience is mostly about washing my hair. I do flip my head upside down about twice a year in order to blow dry it.(Remember the afore mentioned hairdryer---this is when it is called into service) To be fully honest here, I must tell you I usually get bored before my hair is fully dry so I flip my hair and myself back into an upright position with damp hair which then just dries as it usual would. But to get ready for the pageant, I did pin lots of hairstyles! And I watched several YouTube videos---and even attempted a few of them on A-M which caused her to privately tell my husband that I didn’t know what I was doing. Which caused me to make an appointment for my daughter to get her hair blown out and straighten Friday before we left for our pageant weekend. See what a good Pageant Mom I am—I admit defeat and call in the experts!
So Saturday we again consulted YouTube to figure out a style that would work with the straight hair and not mess it up for the next day. A-M pooh-poohed my YouTube dependence, but you know it was all I had! And I think I did a pretty good job!