It’s October 1972 and I’m having my umpteenth fitting for the clown costume that I’ll be wearing for the annual neighborhood candy grubbing err…I mean Halloween. My mom is down on her hands and knees with pins in her mouth marking here, tacking there, adding rick rack, pom poms, bell cuffs and doing the cone-shaped hat out of fusible webbing–the whole enchilada. 2 costumes: one for me and the other for my older brother. McCall’s and Simplicity pattern paper rained down on the dining room table…devil, pirate, bunny, gypsy. She did this every year. The end result being for one single night’s enjoyment and dibs on a few of our mini Snickers. She put more work into these costumes than I can even imagine, were I to do a ridiculous thing like blow what remains of my serenity by piecing together pant legs and sleeves. And how did we repay her? By whining that we wanted the “store bought” costumes with the Botox masks. Cinderella with her face frozen in that horror/smile and fabric that had no shape, no embellishment, no hand-stitched zipper for crying out loud.
It’s October 2002 and I’m trying to stuff my 5-year-old son’s face through the too small opening (that I’ve cut with pinking shears to avoid having to sew an edge) in the twin sized flat sheet that I probably hemmed with duct tape. He’s supposed to be a ghost but the squished face brings to mind Edvard Munch’s painting, the Scream. Which is more frightening anyway and adds a touch of sophistication. Not a bad job for 19 minutes’ work.
It’s October 2012 and I don’t have any plans to make or buy a costume for my kids who are nearly too old to trick-or-treat. Their style now is to scare the bejeesus out of other kids and horde enough of our passing out candy to satisfy their sweet teeth. I think back on all the hump-busting my mom did to make something special for us–extraordinary things, things that required sequins, seed beads and bias binding.
Were we grateful for the time she spent? Probably not. I was 5 and if you wanted my thanks you’d better be lifting the ban on Barbie (I’m done with therapy and can actually talk about it calmly). It’s my belief now, as the Mom, that you’re gonna wait a helluva long time to hear some of the thanks that you think you might be owed so you’d better just be doing it for the love of it.
And the occasional mini Snickers.