26 October 2016

On Costumes and Creativity...and Motherhood

I’m a working mama. I’m a mother who works outside the home. And while I have no time for Pinterest projects, I’ve said from the very 9-years-ago beginning (before there was Pinterest, thankyouverymuch) that there are two things I’ll do: bake and decorate the birthday cakes from scratch and make their Halloween costumes myself.

Because I want to.

Those that know me know my career field has wonky deadlines and can have long hours. I’ve pulled more all-nighters in one - ahem - active - working year than I ever pulled in college. And yet, I refuse to fall for the store bought cake or costume. It frustrates the bejeezus out of H. Every year, as I stay up too late in the days before Halloween, tacking tulle onto an evil queen skirt out or stitching a Batman symbol onto a black leotard, he laments, “Next year, we’re buying them.”

But we never do. Truth is, and especially as this blog has taken a backseat to life changes, my creative outlets are few and far between. I admit fully and heartily that I’m using the Beans as an excuse to take time to create. I tell myself that it’s because it’s important for them, that they’ll remember when they grow up. They might. I do. I remember that my mommy made our costumes from scratch when we were little, and I know that my baking talents come from her. I know that they love giving me a cake theme “order” and watching it come alive because I made it. I know that they enjoy and deliberate over their costume choice right up to the October 1 deadline I give them - in theory because I’m going to take all month to make it (I’m fairly certain I’ve never really worked on a single costume before the week right up to Halloween).

And then, a few months ago, dear friends gave the Bean a flamenco dress their daughter had gotten from other friends. It even has a big, dramatic hair flower. I offered to make a mantilla, at least. (Please let me make something, child. Let me make anything.) She threw me a bone: “I’ll be a dead flamenco dancer, Mama. You can do a dead face with makeup, right?”

“I know what I’m going to be for Halloween. I’m going to be Harper.” My Philly-area heart dropped deeper than my mama heart. Not only is my baby boy a Nats fan through and through, but he’d ditched his Ninjago green/gold ninja (that I would’ve had to Google to copy, but that’s the fun part) in favor of a costume for which we already owned all of the parts. He has multiple Nats hats, white baseball pants, red baseball socks, and, the crowning glory to which I succumbed at the late-season game we saw together, his white Harper jersey. He even has Nats eye black stickers.

I don’t have to make a single thing. I don’t have to sew a stitch. I don’t have to stay up late, trying to follow a pattern that’s more confusing than the worst IKEA directions ever. I can stay up late working on a dayjob deadline with no mama-guilt whatsoever. Zero.

When pajama day and Halloween Week at dance class collide.

And yet, the mama-guilt, though I’m not entirely sure that’s what it is, is strong in this one. That force, the force is strong. I’m itching to open up my sewing kit, but have no purpose. I’d hoped for this day, in a lot of ways, when they get excited about creating their own costumes. I have fond memories of putting my costumes together from things we had in our dressup box. That day is here, but I’m sad. I admit fully, I’m sad. I took pride in their joy and in their glee. I took pride in making their visions come to life.

Those are my feelings, though, and have absolutely nothing to do with their excitement around what is a fun, creative, and silly holiday. My feelings have no part in their experience, and shouldn’t. They’re there, and I’m acknowledging them here. I suppose this is what The Older Parents talk about when they tell us “one day, you’ll wish they weren’t growing up so fast,” when we Younger Parents complain about toddler tantrums or having to tie a shoe for the 10,000th time. They’re growing up. We’re doing our job.

So this year they’ll don their self-designed and self-created costumes. I’ll smear on a little ghoulish makeup; I know that next year, it’s likely she won’t even allow me to do that, that she’ll want to do it herself. I’ll relish this year for what it is. I’ll post pictures. It’s what we do.

And then I’ll go bake a complicated cake. A mama’s gotta have something, after all.

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