Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Costumes for Kids and Families

Life is Good: it's not about me!

Happy Halloween! I love this holiday. Especially the costumes. One of the best parts of my position as CEO of this house is getting to play dress up everyday! So I love to dress our family up and see everyone else out and about in their creations, too. Though I could totally do without witches, tombstones, and ugh, skeletons.

This is our family last year on Halloween:

I always say that this photo proves how much Grant loves me. ; ) Not because he dressed up (we decided to make it a tradition to dress up for trick-or-treating with our kids on the big kid's second Halloween). But rather, because this was the first costume that required real effort on his part. Not just throwing a wig on with the suit he wore to work (to be Einstein's dad) or a cape over his t-shirt and jeans (to be super dad), but real face-paint-itchy-raffia-effort. And our kiddos loved it! So much so that the big kid started plotting this year's costumes on November 1, 2012! (I think I probably did, too!)

As I have mentioned before, our big kid has been in a dinosaur-obsessed phase for a couple of years now. So I just assumed that he would want to be a dinosaur this year. And since little brother likes to stay right there beside him, I assumed he would also want to be a dinosaur. Okay, then. Grant and I will dress in khakis and be paleontologists. That's a comfy costume. Easy peasy. About six or eight weeks ago, I found a cute, warm-looking (it's Minnesota, remember!) dino costume for the little guy. All I needed to do was find one for the big kid...

Wait. Put on the brakes. The big kid had other plans...

He knew exactly what he wanted to be. And it wasn't a dinosaur. After two years of dinosaur university (seriously, we know evvvvvvvverything about dinosaurs!), this was not met with disappointment! And yet, his idea...that was going to take some thinking to make it work. So for the last month, I've been working on costumes for our family, here and there, as time allowed. My mom always made my costumes and like everything she made for me, she would say, "Every stitch with love." And I feel the same way. Every moment spent on these costumes was with love and satisfaction as I imagined the happiness they would bring to our kids.

But because I am making the costumes...I bought costumes for the kiddos online, just in case my masterpieces became monstrosities. Mom rule # 8: always have a back up plan! (What are #1-7? I haven't written them down!)

So every stitch with love...and anticipation. When I've worked on the costumes, the big kid will sit with me and draw or play with his "guys" and talk about how fun it will be on Halloween night. Those are moments I will never regret. Time shared. Quieter, calmer times. Mostly the two of us when Grant is at work and the wee one is napping. Ideas exchanged. Grins traded. Hearts filled up.

A couple of days ago, the little one had his "final costume fitting". He bounced around in it. Captivated by his reflection in the mirror, he smiled and shrieked in delight. He pronounced it, "Good." Ah, satisfaction. It's a comfy, warm (looks like Halloween night in the mid 40s here. Boo.) costume that makes him smile. Mission accomplished.

When the big kid got home from kindergarten, I had him try on his costume, too. Everything fit well. He, too, admired himself in the mirror. He told me I did a great job. He hugged me and said I was the best mommy in the whole, wide world. And then he said, "But I want a store-bought costume instead."


He explained that store-bought costumes are really cool. And this homemade one "is cool. It's the same cool for homemade as the cool for store-bought. I think I'll wear the one you made next year."

Hmm. Okay.

I told him that he didn't have to decide at that very moment. Let's have a snack and talk about it later.

Yes, I was confused. And after more discussion, disappointed. I sew with felt and glue, so it's not as if I have spent hours at a sewing machine creating a work of art. But I did spend time on these costumes. Mostly, in anticipation of my two children smiling with delight. And one of them wants something made in a factory instead.

But this isn't about me. The costume isn't about me. The parenting isn't about me. It's about them. Everything. Every single, little thing is about them. Every thought. Every breath. I remind myself that when your parenting starts being about you and your needs instead of your child and your child's needs is when you have messed up, selfish grown ups walking around in this world. Grown up in bad relationships. Or no relationships at all. Grown ups who put "me" before everything. Grown ups who are unfulfilled, unhappy, unable. Because they learned that from you. I want to teach my children to be thoughtful and giving and selfless, among a host of other things. And if that's what I want, it can't be about me...

So last night, I pulled out the "Plan B" store-bought costume. When the big kid gets home from school today, I'll show it to him. I don't know which costume he will choose to wear. But either way, I am okay with it. It's just a costume. For a silly holiday. And it is not about me.  None of it. It's about him. And I am not going to forget that.

Happy Halloween to homemade costume-wearers and store-bought ones alike! : )

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