As a mom of three I will be honest, Halloween is exhausting and stressful. The expectations that we place upon ourselves are overwhelming. We embark on the quest to find the one costume in existence that our toddler will lose their crap over because they have obsessively watched a television show for two years straight. We convince ourselves they will love it, look adorable and we will gain huge mom points. Next up, stocking up on enough candy to feed an army for all those well-mannered children who will grace your front porch. Oh and the rash of others. Mid week we will return to said store to restock our candy supply because you binge watched Season 2 of our favourite show on Netflix and depleted all the mini chocolate bars. Take my advice, return home with suckers. Let’s not forget the oh so important Halloween treats for our child’s class party. Can we be real here. If it were up to them they would be content to take a handful of jelly beans for each of their friends, its sugar and everyone’s happy. Alas, we will enter into the search bar “most unusual Halloween treats” and see what crafty idea we can convince ourselves we can stay awake until midnight in the kitchen making. By the time we finish up the last final product, it never resembles the online work of art. We now have three hours to sleep before our spawn awake and we swear next year they will get a box of Timbits so we can keep our sanity. Morning comes, and we cannot wait to show off our masterpiece to our munchkins which is usually met with a sideways smile and a less than stellar sense of excitement as they fly by us wanting to know what’s for breakfast. We will do it all over again for their Christmas party. Tonight is the big night so we best get that yard decorated like the Jones next door. I will tell you when I think back to my own childhood there were no spectacular displays equivalent to a paid entry at a haunted house as you walked down your street filling your pillow case along the way. My how that bar has been raised. Eerie music seeps from the hedges lining the lane ways, skeletons hang from the trees and grown men are dressed up ready to jump out and almost make you wet yourself. I personally have not taken my own children trick or treating in ten plus years for fear of having a heart attack. That job has been given to their father, the trick or treating, not the heart attack. When I was a kid it was simple, if the lights were on that was your cue to ring the bell. You were literally blown away if they had a jack o’lantern on their porch. Alright, ghosts have been hung from my tree, fake grave stones lining the lawn and one half dead zombie sitting on the porch. I am nailing this. Time to pick up the kids and get ready for this wonderful holiday. Forgetting to explain to the first child about the decorations who then has a mini meltdown thinking a man has died on our porch and why mommy why would we bury people here? No time to explain it is time to make you think I am the best mom EVER when you see these costumes. You do realize on Halloween you begin feeding your children dinner at 4:30 pm so that you can get them ready and out the door, returned home filled with sugar, undressed and coming down from that sugar high and finally asleep before midnight. The marathon begins, these occasions call for a meal of anything quick. Grilled cheese sandwiches it is and onto dress up. The oldest goes first because they are supposed to have the most patience, one Disney Princess complete with two complaints, her tiara isn’t big enough and her dress is itchy. Enter middle child who is now a stoic Darth Vadar, suitable considering he is shy and refuses to speak to anyone. He has no complaints but he seldom does. Lastly, the adorable baby who I am turning into a pumpkin. They are all dressed and as I snap 723 pictures because that is how many every parent needs I realize they are perfect and send them on their way with dad. I pour myself a glass of wine as every good person does who now gets to answer a repeated door bell chiming in her head for hours on end. I do enjoy all the teeny tiny kids trying to balance their way up the stairs holding those plastic pumpkins that only hold two bags of chips. As they stare at my dead zombie they scream in fear for their parents. Next year I’m sticking with one carved pumpkin I swear. The night begins to wind down and my spawn all return home. I hear the screams and cries before they enter. The Disney Princess has her tiara sideways on her head because it has made her head hurt all night, her make up resembles that of a drunken maiden after a bender and she claims next year she will be a ghost. Darth Vader reveals his actual face, silent as usual and has broke out in some odd rash but smiles at his haul. He claims that this is his last Halloween because it is for juveniles, he is seven. Oh my sweet pumpkin, red cheeks and soaked in sweat. Upon removing that costume we have realized it is literally a one man furnace and this child has every right to be miserable. I love that they are too young to realize we will eat all their best candy in the next two days. You hose them all down, tuck them all in, shut out the lights and threaten the next 18-year-old who bangs on your door after 10 pm that you may steal his candy as well. You take a quick scan of your life. There are empty candy wrappers and half filled designer treat bags with their names on them, well because all the other moms were ordering them, laying on the living room floor. The kitchen still hasn’t recovered from your crafty attempt at school treats. Those amazing costumes you thought your kids would never live without are now crumpled up on the bathroom floor. They will never be used again and you know you paid a small fortune for them. Tomorrow you will start to dismantle all those Halloween decorations to make room for the Christmas decorations, and treats, and gifts…and ..
We need to stop this madness and ask, why do we put these expectations on ourselves?
I know that you are going to try to say you do it for your children, but you don’t. You do all of these things for you and only you. Reflect back again to those simple days when as children we were responsible for coming up with our own costumes. Throwing a sheet over our heads and cutting out the holes for eyes. Painting our faces into clowns or wrapping some boxes in tinfoil and being a robot. We used our imaginations and things we had around the house, but seldom were our parents involved in this process. Are we in a sense robbing our children from this experience now? Should they be allowed to have this same sense of wonder, to create and explore? Instead we may be guilty of projecting ourselves onto them. Things that maybe we didn’t have as a child that we feel the need to give them in order to consider succeeding as a parent. This is an unrealistic expectation that your children are never thinking as they adorn that sweaty pumpkin costume.
Our mothers didn’t spend countless hours creating unique works of art in the kitchen to send to school. Did you ever hold her in judgement for that? Then why are we now feeling like less if we don’t do these things now for our children? You simply cannot let society, friends, family or your own guilty feelings dictate how you parent. These are not the memories your adult children will have. They would exchange the hours you spent making those treats, costumes and decorating for time spent with them, every single time. Listen, I am not saying to throw in the towel completely here. I know as adults there are those of you who love this holiday and all it entails. Decorate away, but do it because you love it and please don’t feel the need to force any of it on your children. We have to let them make their own way. When my seven-year old insisted it was his last year trick or treating my first thought was “how on earth will I explain this to people,” quickly followed by this boy has been unique since birth and people will just have to get use to that. If any part of any holiday is stressful to you, revisit why that is and re-evaluate how you can change it up. Holidays are meant to be fun and filled with love and family.
I am not debating the love we have for our children and that we want to do amazing great things for them, but pay attention to their reactions. When they seem to be acting ungrateful for all of the hard work you are putting into these great feats, maybe there is something to that. Ask yourself if you are doing it for the wrong person. Watch them light up if you ask if they want to build a fort in the basement, or play hide and seek. Most times they have become so accustomed to our lives being so busy they would jump at the chance to do something so basic, simple and fun with their parents. If you feel you are trying to make up for short comings from your childhood, you can’t. These children are different human beings all together, and you are not your parents. So get excited about the future, pack away those sticky costumes and think about Christmas. Make snow angels and go skating! Oh, and for a class treat, might I suggest Timbits 🙂