Growing up, my mother made my Halloween costumes – and by “made,” I mean completely hand made, from scratch. Weeks of work with sewing patterns and tons of stuffing. Sweat, consternation, and a few swear words. It swelled with tons of worry and directions that I had better wear this costume multiple times.
The outfits were EPIC. A real-life Rainbow Bright, along with the shoes and twirly skirt. Minnie Mouse with a full plush hat with ears and a bow. A custom Wichita State cheerleader, delightfully doubling as my outfits for college basketball games until I could no longer fit into the shirt. Longevity and durability was always the goal, and the number one rule was that I couldn’t change my mind once it hit Oct. 1. There was no wiggle room to adjust my costume preferences.
One year I was required to be a “germ” (half-lady bug, half tap dancer) and have the same costume as my mother because she was commissioned by our local hospital to create their Kids Care mascot. A germ. Thankfully there was no social media to remind me of that costume, though I’m sure it will surface online at some point.
I never fully understood why my mother did all of that work, the late nights, and a few breakdowns. That was, until I became a mom.
My son is three, so we’ve had a few Halloweens under our belt when he didn’t care or understand what this holiday was all about. At six months, he was a dalmatian because I found a white puffy, hooded bunting and spent each 2 am wakeup hand sewing black spots all over while Brendan was drowsily eating. The second year, he was “Super B,” his own superhero with a custom B on the front of his shirt and back of his cape. (That cape is still in play, by the way.) Last year, I told my husband that he could figure it all out. Brendan was the moon and ecstatic as he bumped into everything with his round polyester body. The bittersweet part: I didn’t have to sew a thing – and I missed it.
This was the first year that he had a preference. It waffled between any of the dogs in Paw Patrol, an octopus, and Zerg from Toy Story. I struggled at how I was going to pull that off. Luckily, we found dinosaur rain boots while we were shopping and made a sharp pivot. T-Rex from Toy Story was his chosen character. He was hooked.
We talked about it and I noticed myself falling into the “cardinal Halloween costume rules” from long ago.
“Are you sure? Once I start, we can’t switch!”
“Do you think you could wear this a lot?”
“Are you certain you want a tail?”
“YES MAMA!” (And then he rolled his eyes… a lot.)
The funny thing is that it never occurred to me that I could buy the costume. My only option was to figure out how to make it work. (Thanks to Primary, I am able to do it in a fraction of the time. Not an ad, just love the company.)
To me, the late nights getting these costumes done and fretting about how it will turn out are a distant memory. (Oh, the fretting questions…Should I draw scales on the tail? Should I add eyes? Do I need to create a Toy Story logo? )It’s not about my effort – it’s about my son’s happiness. No matter what we created, he’d be happy with anything that allows him to roar and feed his imagination.
And in this year of intense unpredictability and tragedy, I will move heaven and earth to carve out a little slice of joy and normalcy.
So, while my hands are sore and some fingertips are scabbed from where the needle kept slicing through, I’d do it over again. Joy trumps perfection, Happiness trumps longevity. I’ll just have to keep washing the tail until it no longer keeps its stitches. And a little boy will keep roaring and making others smile.
Pretty incredible what a yard of fabric will do.