I was never really that into Halloween. I don’t like the blinding terror that comes with today’s haunted houses or bobbing for apples in a bucket filled with all previous contestants phlegmy saliva and I certainly don’t like the pressure most women feel to somehow turn an innocent costume into the male sexual fantasy version. Call me no fun, but Halloween just wasn’t my jam . . .until I had kids.
Suddenly I find myself actually anticipating the holiday and making plans to decorate my front porch, visit pumpkin patches and watch spooky movies (kid friendly, of course). Buried somewhere deep down, it turns out I actually do love something about Halloween. The magic of experiencing this silly holiday through the eyes of my children is something I didn’t expect when I first thought of motherhood. But to see my daughter literally giddy with excitement before we start to carve our pumpkins makes the not so great stuff sort of fade away.
One thing that seems to have become a bit of a family tradition is coordinating Halloween costumes, usually made by yours truly. Maybe it started with a desire to show my daughter there’s more to costumes than just princesses and sexy policewomen but it’s morphed into a monster of its own, leaving me both dreading and looking forward to this upcoming day.
On her first Halloween she was only three-months-old so I bought her a beanie with devil horns, dressed her in a red shirt and done. The next year there was a little bumble bee costume on sale but we wanted to have a family theme so my husband was to be a beekeeper and I decided to be a flower. This required some creative outfit planning on my part but our costumes were thrown together in a couple days and it was fun.
After that, things got more intense. We decided to dress up as characters from Adventure Time and at 2-years-old my sassy daughter made the perfect lumpy space princess! I bought some sparkly purple tulle and sewed strips onto a purple hoodie. As with most projects, it took about twice as long as I planned and by the end I was just glad to be finished.
The following year, I was totally ready to buy her an Elsa dress and call it a day, but she surprised me by requesting Loretta from Miles From Tomorrowland. I was delighted that she was thinking outside the box, but I could not find a Loretta costume anywhere. This meant I’d have to make not only hers, but the entire family’s costumes if we all wanted to match.
I went to work, and night after night for a good two weeks I toiled away putting these costumes together. As I worked I started to think about how ridiculous the whole thing was. Halloween is only one night and I’m fairly certain she’d be just as happy walking around with a sheet on her head dressed like a ghost. Much like the year before by the time I was finished I didn’t really care what the costumes looked like, as long as I was free.
But now as I look back I can see that it was so much more than just costume making. She would often came over and watch me sew, asking questions about what I was doing, wanting to help and always wondering when her costume would be ready.
I wasn’t just slaving away in the name of Halloween, I was showing her how much she mattered to me.
She was worth all the time and effort I put in.
That even if I didn’t like it, and often times threatened to quit, I would pull through for her. I showed her that I was willing to work hard and would go above and beyond to make her dreams come true.
You should have seen the way her face lit up the first time she put on her Loretta costume. You couldn’t wipe the smile from her face, and her pure, unfiltered happiness spread across our home touching our hearts and melting my own. Whatever I thought it cost me to make those costumes (time, money, etc), the joy she gave me in return is something that I will cherish forever.
True to form, this time around she’s asked to be another obscure TV character for Halloween, Luna Girl from PJ Masks. The fact that she wants to be a female super villain makes me so proud that I really don’t have much of a choice. Maybe one day she’ll start to feel the pressure of her peers and ask for only popular girly costumes but until it comes I’m going to nurture and honour her independent spirit and hope that she feels my never ending devotion, one costume at time.
Amanda is a mother to two beautiful children and began writing, after her daughter was diagnosed with a rare disease, Cystinosis. She started the blog Elsinosis: Living with Cystinosis to chronicle their story, advocate for her daughter and help other families in similar situations look for their silver linings. Her writing has appeared on The Mighty, Good Mother Project, Coffee + Crumbs and she was cast member of Vancouver’s inaugural Listen To Your Mother Show. You can follow her family’s story at www.elsinosis.com, on Facebook and on Instagram.
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