I threw my hands up on the whole thing a few years ago. It was all just too much. Coming up with a fun idea and then multiple trips to the fabric store, followed by the craft store, followed by hand sewing and glueing of feathers at 2 am. Only to have those fun ideas and feathery frocks unapologetically rebuffed by a kid who just wanted to be a princess. Not an original princess…the kind that comes in a plastic bag and is found in aisle 12. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Too much work, too much work all around. I had to give up on homemade Halloween.
I feel like I’ve given up on a lot of the ideas I had about the kind of parent I would be. I’ve only been at this parenting thing for not-quite 7 years, but the list of prime parenting stuff I’ve already given up on feels so long. I mostly blame my mom for all those ideas, because she was just so darn good at it….she made it look easy. But it’s not. Not for her, not for me, not for anyone who’s trying to do it right.
And this whole Halloween costume stuff is especially hard for me. My mom made some great costumes for my sister and I, largely with stuff from around the house. There was one year when I was a pig’s head on a platter, complete with an apple in my mouth that I’d have to spit out at each door to recite the magical candy-generating incantation.
“Trick or Treat! … Thank you. Can you please put the apple back in my mouth?”
The foil-lined cardboard platter around my neck, complete with real lettuce and tomato slices, was so wide that I couldn’t get my arms around it to reach my face. So, I needed some help getting the apple back in.
It was awesome.
But here’s the thing–I didn’t appreciate it at the time. Not the way I do now. I remember it because it was great, of course, but I wouldn’t be sad now not to have that memory. Follow me on this one–if she hadn’t made fantastical costumes with her magical tinker fairy skills, I wouldn’t have them to miss. This is what occurred to me a few years ago, when the days before Halloween were disappearing faster than a bag of Cheetos in my house (lightening fast, no judgment please) and I had not yet made the girls’ costumes.
If I didn’t make them, I thought, Halloween would not be a bust. Charlie Brown’s friend Linus would still wait in vain for the Great Pumpkin. The kids would still dress up and people would say they were adorable. They’d still run from house to house, fail to follow the “just one” rule and then unwrap, lick and munch themselves into a sugared frenzy. Halloween would still be great.
If we can make the costumes, that’s amazing. The kids will appreciate it later, and maybe even write blog posts about how awesome they (and you) were. If we don’t make the costumes, we haven’t failed. We haven’t deprived them of anything–unless we make the homemade costume, point out its wonderful features and then insist, despite their unfrozen tears, that they be the 7th Elsa from a bag in their class today.
It’s not the costumes we don’t make or things we have to miss. It’s not the things we do not do. It’s the things we do…the ones we actually do, and how we do them…that matter.