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  • And there we were, at a three-story Victorian style salon in the heart of Coconut Grove for Maya’s Sweet Sixteen celebration. We had gone shopping the week prior for our dresses, shoes, and accessories at Macy’s so to look our best for the occasion. While shopping, my daughter found the Jessica Simpson little black dress I ended up wearing. And I happened to spot the Steven Madden multicolored five-inch sandals and the turquoise gem earrings she ended up loving for her outfit. This was our first party together. I felt excited. And as much as I could tell, so was she.

    I had never been to one of these celebrations, which are extremely popular in South Florida. My daughter Camila, who is fifteen, has been to several. Here, most girls from Hispanic descent celebrate with a “Quinces” party on their fifteenth year of life. Parents go all out for this coming of age gathering. I’ve heard some get second mortgages to finance these most elaborate of events for their girls. For Maya, her family had decided to celebrate her sixteenth birthday instead; however, the “fiesta” was just as spectacular. Parents do whatever they can to make their children feel special. Some throw their children out-of-this-world parties, and some buy them expensive shoes. It is all done with the best of intentions.

    My daughter and Maya have known each other ever since the fifth grade, and I think they have been in the same girl scout troop even earlier than that. Inviting the troop moms to the occasion was an unexpected thoughtful gesture. The celebration began on the first floor of the edifice with Maya walking down a gaudy-like marble stairwell in her white pristine pearly dress, the looks of a princess in her splendor. After several family speeches and the traditional dances with the special men of her life, she joined her friends, who wore their designer's best, for a night of teenage interactions which included dinner, music, and the standard photo booth for documenting the friendships had and to be made that enchanting night.

    My daughter mingled throughout the evening amongst the sixty-some freedom seeking teens present, and succeeded at spending most of her time away from me. This I expected as an age appropriate gesture on her part. Who wants to be hanging around their mom at a party, really? I, in turn, thoroughly enjoyed connecting with the troop moms on the third floor, which was reserved for the adults. After a martini or two, our conversations went from PG to R rating. Giggling away at silly jokes and innuendos about ex-husbands and potential lovers to have, we spent our time while enjoying the three-course meal dinner. We also danced and mingled. One of the moms couldn’t help herself and went spying on their girls on the second floor. Not me. I was at a party, and there was an open bar. And, it was my first official party as a divorcee. I deserved "me" time, and I felt, so did my daughter.

    At the end of the night, my baby and I found each other at the exit door of the grand locale. Did you have fun? I asked. “Yes”, she said looking a bit tired out. Once the valet driver delivered our SUV, and we settled into the car, my daughter immediately bent down to take off her five-inch heels. "My feet at killing me, mom. I think I got a blister” she mumbled. I looked at her thin delicate feet and thought to myself “welcome to womanhood, darling”. Smiling I turned on the engine, later the radio. Seat belts tightly fasten, I drove away knowing that Maya’s 16th coming of age ritual had marked the finality of one of our own eras and the beginning of another.
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