It’s Hallowe’en. This means goblins, monsters, ghosts, witches, to many. Here, it’s a sentimental holiday. You know how every mom has a mothering skill they put in their pocket and touch like a lucky rabbit’s foot? Thinking, “Yes, I did a good job. Or at least meant well.” In our house, that’s Hallowe’en. Apostrophe and all.
Take costumes, for example. I insisted that they be homemade. For years.
Let me just say that my daughter was a strong-willed girl. Brought me to my knees, as a mother of young children, but somehow I had sense enough not to try to break her. Or perhaps I am convincing myself that what I could not do was in fact intentional. In any case, my daughter, for the first many years of trick or treating, would dress as heroic creatures of one sort or another. The first Hallowe’en, Tin Woodman.
My son was, well, himself. One year he wanted to be a potato. OK. I got a sheet and made it into a huge bag. Doesn’t really count as sewing, does it? I dyed it brown in the washing machine and gathered areas into little potato “eyes.” Then we filled it with foam rubber pieces. By the middle of the evening all the foam rubber had fallen to the bottom of the bag, making it impossible for him to walk. Luckily he bounced when he fell over. I had to carry his costume from then on, pointing and explaining to skeptics at the doors.
The next year I told him he couldn’t be anything globular. “But Mom,” he said, “I want to be a doorknob.” I drew the line. He went as an origami display. And that was the end of homemade costumes. The next year, a Ninja. No photos of his costumes because any extant are somewhere in an envelope, in a shoe box, in a pile of piles. Second child syndrome.
Take trick or treating. A ritual.
We cruised the streets with my best friend and her pack. Dinner at my house first. Hallow Weenies. Hot dogs cut into pieces and stood on end. Rice, shaped like little ghosts. Haunted broccoli forests. Yeah. Just what you imagine. Stopped short of saying the ketchup was blood. The kids weren’t big enough to be sure it was actually made of tomatoes.
The night was charged enough that we had to set rules to keep peace. My son in the front. Otherwise my friend’s daughter would have run so fast from door to door we would have been watching her in the distance. Almost in tears. She runs track now, in college.
Returning from the foray, our kids would lay their candy out on my living room rug. Sort. Count. Categorize. Trade. Gloat. There was enough. More than enough. Hallowe’en was one of those times when we could know we had done it right. Motherhood doesn’t come with flashing lights or electronic voices crying, “Winner! Winner! Winner!” So you take those moments where you find them and bow down before the massed troops of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. In awe.
Whether it mattered or not, I don’t know. But it was true. It was a true reflection of who we all were. I see that now. I couldn’t know then. We just had to try our best in the dark.
Posted with full permission of the subject. I may be foolhardy but I am not insane.
And I may have told the story of my son’s potato costume before. That happens, at this age. My apologies in advance but it’s one of my favorites. I mean, come on, a potato?