Before you click out because that title makes me sound like a real bloggy asshole, wait…
I decorated six monster cupcakes on Halloween–six because I ran out of eyeballs and got tired of slapping frosting and arranging candy teeth, and six because that’s exactly how many it took to fill a plate so that my efforts looked intentional and festive, possibly tricking anyone who happened to stop by into thinking I had my Halloween shit together instead of what they were really thinking which was, “Your kitchen’s a pit.” This also keeps me from feeling like everything’s falling apart when the kitchen’s a mess and I can’t find the pieces to the costumes and the sun is setting and there’s chili bubbling out of the pot and two kids are running around naked and Brett’s not home from work yet and neighbor kids are prematurely knocking on my door asking for candy when I can’t remember where I put it. But look! I made monster cupcakes! I cropped out all the mess in this photo, and there’s a candle burning and little pumpkins, and everything is perfect!
I had great intentions for a storybook Halloween. The dinner, the clean house, the music, the way we’d huddle as a family over the table while a nice candle glow illuminated our laughter. We’d clean up dishes with just the appropriate amount of time left to put on costumes which kids would slip into effortlessly and then hold hands as they walked down sidewalks–certainly not darting in any other direction except forward, together–and chirp in unison, “Trick or Treat!” while Brett and I held hands behind them, grinning and gazing at each other like cheesy parents, our silent but obvious “we’re so blessed” ringing through the night like the theme song to our own made up family sitcom. Family Ties but better.
There are two things I should point out here.
1. I do this with everything. Even though nothing ever turns out like the movie-like stories I create in my head, I still envision them, over and over. I think Einstein defined this as insanity. I blame it on all the movies. What can I say, my imagination is a very optimistic stallion that cannot be tamed. A stallion with a horn and wings and a rainbow mane, thank you.
2. I’m rarely disappointed anymore when my stories don’t line up. I may be a rainbow-maned winged creature on the outside but, believe it or not, there is some crazy voice of wisdom that lives within. God bless her, she’s a survivor. She understands a little more about reality and smiles in a grandmotherly way at the silly glittery part of me who has a lot to learn. Wise Voice knows that Unicorns Gonna Unicate. When pretty family sitcom vision plays out to be a little more frazzled–a little more “don’t you dare roll this tape, dammit!”, Wise Voice takes over. She says things like “that didn’t go like we intended” but says it as matter-of-factly as reporting the weather. No big deal. Then she opens the gate for Unicorn to come running back in to sniff out the silver lining which she always finds. Or makes up, whichever comes first.
That said, we never even ate the chili I made before trick-or-treating. We didn’t have time. Brett got home late, and I barked “Can you please help me get them ready?” with enunciation on just the right syllables to infer that he never helps me do anything even though that’s simply not true. Dash wouldn’t keep a diaper on, Lainey’s Wendy nightgown needed to be ironed, and our house must have sent out some secret “NOT NOW” signal because neighborhood kids started knocking right when I was about ready to lose my shit. I was this close from answering the door, “Are you kidding me?! My husband’s in his underwear, we haven’t eaten dinner yet, and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I CAN’T FIND TINKERBELL’S WINGS!” But I smiled instead, overcompensating with enthusiasm delivered right on cue–“ELSA! Nice braid! Love the gloves! How’s Olaf?!”–and a fist full of Rolos.
We made it outside which always makes everything better. Just walk outside, even for a minute, and breathe fresh air and feel the walls fall down and watch your kids be cute and rock their Peter Pan get-up like nobody’s business. You’ll feel that cheesy “we’re so blessed” thing hit you like a brick.
Holding hands lasted for very little because Dash would have nothing of it. Dash would also have nothing of walking on designated pathways or with the group or at an appropriate trick-or-treating pace. He is wild and free and funny and tireless, and while that makes for some very demanding parenting days right now and consequently some funny quips about his never-ending energy, make no mistake these personality traits are cherished and seen for what they are–keys to the future! Whether it’s part boy (we get it: not all boys are energetic and not all the energetic are boys), part baby or most likely all Dash, we’ll pull our hair out while he summits the countertop and make jokes while he scans the room for what he can take apart, but we’ll simultaneously celebrate the beauty of what makes him tick–Curiosity! Determination! Perseverance! Problem-solving skills! You know what this means? He’ll start a company! He’ll run for Congress! He’ll invent something that will change lives for good!
banished gently repositioned to the stroller two houses into trick-or-treating, and our storybook Halloween evening reconvened.
The kids tired quickly this year. They were happy to come home, count their few pieces of candy, get their costumes off and slip into pajamas, and we were happy to take their lead. They were more excited to pass out candy than to get it, and between doorbell rings and the mustered enthusiasm for all the beautiful Elsas who came our way, we finally found time to get a bite of chili and clean up the kitty litter that spilled all over the driveway. We took Lainey out later for a fun Round 2 of trick-or-treating which made her feel older and special and very seen, and somewhere during the night I took a mental picture of my Unicorn and Wise Voice slow dancing together. To Michael W. Smith’s Friends are Friends Forever if you must know.
This is holidays with real families and lots of kids and roll-with-the-punches.
We never used the luminaires, but I remember watching Lainey make them and how she showed Dash what she was doing when he crawled up to investigate.
We didn’t trick-or-treat for very long, but kids who knocked on our door were greeted by all the little drawings that Lainey made to welcome them.
We don’t have very many Tinkerbell pictures, but I’ll be damned I got one of Nella swingin’ her hair the cold cozy morning that followed Halloween.
Our Halloween was perfect. Our kids were happy.
Here’s the cool thing about storybooks. Anyone can write one and any way they please.
Once upon a time, a mom made beautiful monster cupcakes on Halloween for the children she loved.