Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of the year. When my boys were little we used to make killer jack-o-lanterns and do the holiday up like nobody’s business. We camped every October and would decorate our site like a haunted house. The kids would enter costume parades at the campground and the smell of campfires and fresh crisp apples still linger in my mind a decade after moving away from New England and the cool autumn weather. A lot has changed since then. Fall in Florida is quite different from chilly northern nights. My boys are grown and we don’t camp on Halloween anymore.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is my love of homemade costumes. My daughter and I discussed several costume ideas before she broke the news to me in the car the other day, the news I dreaded and hoped I would never hear from one of my children. “I don’t really like homemade costumes, mom.”
I almost drove off the road but managed to keep it together while saying the Serenity Prayer in my head. I couldn’t believe I gave birth to a child who didn’t want a homemade costume. After years of successes with Batmans, or would that be Batmen? Woody’s, Buzzes, Legoles – again, would that be Legoli? I even made my oldest a Captain Underpants costume one year. And the mailbox. That was truly spectacular. Jackson wanted to be a big blue postal mailbox when he was about nine. And he wanted his best friend to be a mailman. They won the town’s costume parade and I couldn’t have been prouder. Really, I’m a master at costumes.
When my daughter broke the news, I was quite shocked. Zoe let me make costumes for her when she was little. But over the years she had begun to insist on store bought numbers and has only let me add my own personal touches to them. However, the news of not liking homemade hit me like a ton of bricks. I managed to get over it about as quickly as someone finding out they’re adopted. I sucked it up and decided to let her have her way. I knew that at 11 she was gonna win this battle and I would hold out for a future victory on something more important like the length of her prom dress.
So off we went to various stores. After nearly an hour of incredibly draining shopping we were both quite irritable and hangry. The last words Zoe uttered as we left the store on the way to get food were, “We could have made half of those ourselves, and probably better.” I grabbed that window of opportunity and yanked it open. With full bellies, Zoe and I huddled up the way people do nowadays, with Netflix and laptops and began scouring the internet for good costume ideas. We settled on a simple design that was comfortable, cheap and easy to remove – the Naked Sim.
We spent Sunday cutting, measuring and burning our fingers on hot glue. Josh came home and helped us finish up the green diamond on Sunday night and we added the finishing touches on Monday. It was a two day family project and I loved every second of it. Zoe did most of the work because I let her. I’m making progress with my control issue and only corrected her about a dozen times instead of a thousand.
When the costume was complete Zoe ran off to her room to put it on. Josh and I sat in the kitchen nibbling on homemade pizza as we waited. I looked at the man who, after two very long days at work, came home to two crazy girls who wanted him to work even more. I looked at him and was grateful that he was my husband, that he was Zoe’s dad, that he never ran out of givingness. I was grateful that he was there to remind me of how I want to be when I grow up.
“Are you ready?” Zoe asked from her dark doorway? We waited in anticipation as she made her grand entrance. The green diamond held together by electrical tape, a headband and a coat hanger floated magically above her head as the foam board she cut, measured and glued flanked her front and back. She smiled as the light inside her diamond faded on and off just like it did in the video game.
She loved the costume but I think I loved it more. I loved it because she had made it. I loved it because Josh had helped. I loved it because we laughed, giggled and worked as a team, as a family, putting it together. I loved it because even though it might be the last year any of my children let me help them make a homemade costume, it won’t be the last one I ever make.
As my children get older I am reminded that many of the things they are experiencing will be lasts for me as a parent. That used to be hard to deal with and sometimes it still is. But it is also beautiful. Because every last, every closed door, every discarded Halloween costume has a story that led up to it. It has a past of its own that can be told and shared around campfires on cool autumn nights or on sweaty tropical ones. Every last is a reason to celebrate and be grateful. This Halloween as my daughter blinks her way down the busy streets of suburbia, I will smile a bittersweet smile and I will be thankful. And then I will steel all her Reese’s.