Yep. That’s right. I am not winning at Halloween. Just when I think I’m doing a decent bit of parenting, all the mothers around me once again remind me I was born without that chromosome that makes me domestically inclined. I’m outlasted, outplayed, and outwitted. I’m like a father trapped in a mother’s body when it comes to this stuff. No offense, dads. But it’s primarily other mothers I see who work so hard to win Halloween.
What do I mean? I can’t keep up with you, ladies. I don’t know how you do it. You do Halloween with the ruthless efficiency of a Vladmir Putin. You, for starters and unfathomably, enjoy pumpkin patches. Someone has got to explain the draw. I will never understand the allure of standing in a field, staring at hundreds of round, orange, inanimate vegetables. Yep. There’s a pumpkin. Sure enough. And look over there. There’s another, different sized pumpkin. I can sit on this pumpkin. I can pick up this pumpkin. Fun over. Egads.
By dawn on October the first, your homes are fully, creatively, and meticulously decorated internally and externally like a squad of spooky Martha Stewarts descended upon them during the night. Every fake cobweb strategically placed, every mum fluffed, every little decorative country scarecrow in its place. Sparkly witch feet and legs sprout from cauldrons. Dry ice oozes around foam tombstones. Gourds of all stripes dot your porch. The smell of pumpkin spice everything permeates your kitchen.
I, on the other hand, have a dark secret: I don’t get Pinterest. I joined. But I just don’t get the allure of looking at pictures of impossible projects destined to damage my self-esteem. But not you, Halloween mom-winner. You make framed photos of papier mache spiders and wreaths out of three kinds of orange and black garland and pipe cleaners. You, oddly, have a tiered line of Day of the Dead themed Halloween nutcrackers marching across your mantelpiece. You make cake tombstones and ghost shaped cookies. And I do not understand at all.
You who are Halloween ninjas also have spent at least three weeks hand crafting your child’s My Little Pony costume and documenting the process on social media. You have gone frame by frame by a cartoon in order to achieve historical accuracy in the reproduction of Twilight Sparkle’s cutie mark. You’ve used wire hangers, felt, a sewing machine, glitter paint, and a glue gun so far, and that’s just for the head. I? Took the kids to the Halloween Spirit store and made my debit card smoke.
And since when did costumes get so elaborate, anyway? The fairy princess gown, wings, shoes, wig, wand, makeup, crown…did anyone else grow up in the 70’s when we didn’t have anything? When a Halloween costume accounted to pretty much an uber-flammable plastic smock? How you had to actively avoid brushing against Jack O’Lanterns lest they set you aflame? There were news reports about that, I swear.
And we only had those plastic masks with the elastic band. The eye holes were never even, so you had to pick camera one or camera two to look out of, and there was a ridiculous little slit in the mouth you were supposed to breathe through but you couldn’t, so you wore the thing on your head until it was time to take a gulp of air, pull it down and yell “Trick or treat!” and then hold your breath until you were back at the end of the driveway. Halloween today, my friends, is on steroids.
And it isn’t just costumes to buy. You, Win Mom, send Halloween cards from your children to their grandparents. You give your children Halloween gifts. When did Halloween gifts get to be a thing? Stuffed bears with witches’ hats and candy corn. Lighting necklaces. Pumpkin earrings. Glowsticks and wands. Gone are the grocery bags of yesteryear in which to collect candy. Step up and buy the “pumpkin” of your character choice! My kid insists you chuck your candy into his Spongebob head.
You, you mothers made of win, have gift bags for each of your children’s schoolmates, and you never forget they only allow pencils and poorly made Chinese plastic crap, erm, toys to be distributed at school these days and have your candy thrown out. You have adorable and appropriate Halloween themed shirts for each of your children to wear throughout the week of the holiday. You, yourself, have a Halloween shirt that says something clever in sequins. I have a 10-year old witch costume which now only elicits eye-rolls from my preteen.
Oh, well. Perhaps I’m not as crafty or resourceful as you other moms. Perhaps it’s just not, as Austin Powers would say, my bag, baby, yeah. Or I’m a total slacker. But let’s not be harsh. Maybe, just maybe, Halloween will come even with my ancient, semi-functioning, and decidedly non-scary decorations from before we had children and could afford plastic, light-up ghosts. Perhaps my children will one day forgive me for refusing to host 20 children in my house for anything. Let’s pray therapy will help them deal with the emotional scarring of having worn second-rate costumes, a lack of theme-park quality decorations, and the denial of Halloween gifts.
No, I get it: I fail Halloween, but I’m okay with that. I can leave all this Halloween over-achieving to you. Because I got a bigger a fish to fry, the Big Game to worry about..it’s gonna be here so soon, and it’s called Christmas. I’ll save my anxiety attacks for then. And on that note: happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you’re winning.