As new parents, we hear the speech. “Enjoy this time when your kids are little. It goes by so fast.” Over and over, every time that complete stranger/grandma squeezes your baby’s cheeks (you know the one), you get the speech.

I’m not sure about other moms, but I always had trouble believing that. I was exhausted. In a good way, usually, but exhausted nonetheless. I had a hard time imagining these babies would ever get bigger, let alone become self-sufficient. I halfway believed that I’d be filling sippy cups and vacuuming up Cheerios for the rest of my life.

But that stranger/grandma was right. And nothing reminds me more of the fleeting chaos that is early childhood (aka good ol’ days) than Halloween.

My first few Halloweens as a new mom were spent sewing. And I don’t mean just a little sewing, I mean full-blown ALL DAY sewing. I think I spent about 17 hours making Jack a cow costume when he was 15 months old. Then I watched with glowing admiration as he toddled from house to house collecting a plastic pumpkin full of candy (that I would rummage through later). When Gillian came along, the costume-making really got into full swing. At age one, she was Madeline. I made her a blue felt coat, sprayed a straw hat yellow and attempted to teach her to say “merci” upon receiving candy (to no avail). That year Jack went as Doug, a character from a favorite Disney program. At only three years old, he was already really getting into this costume thing, so Joe and I spent hours trying to help him create Doug’s hair – fashioned out of pantyhose and pipe cleaners.

There was magic in those Halloweens. The kids and I would spend all day getting ready, filling candy bowls and anxiously awaiting Daddy’s arrival home from work. When the race for world candy domination began, Joe and I dutifully chased behind them as they ran door to door, shouting instructions like “Don’t push!” “Don’t run!” “Don’t forget to say thank you!” The two of us would laugh, realizing that Jack couldn’t hear a thing through the giant astronaut helmet I made out of paper mache. Or that no one really understood his costume the year he chose to be “Abraham Lincoln dressed as Cat in the Hat”.

As I sit here on Halloween Eve, I am not sewing. Not a thing. I am instead pleading with Jack to hurry up and finish his World History homework, and watching Gillian get her backpack ready for tomorrow. Now that they are in Junior High and High School there are no more school Halloween parties, no more cupcakes to bake and no one even asked me to sew a costume. In fact, our trick-or-treat plans are not plans at all (although Gillian does have a hot pink witch’s hat and tulle skirt on stand-by). But she has dance class tomorrow night and Jack will likely have marching band practice. Joe will probably get home from work later than he hopes, without the pressure of little noses pressed to the window, waiting.  

I am, however, looking forward to Halloween. As we all trickle home in the evening, the first one here will make sure to turn on the porch light. Both kids really love answering the doorbell and passing out candy. They are awesome at complimenting the little ones’ costumes while making sure the big ones don’t get too greedy. We’ll smile at the parents chasing sticky toddlers house to house, shouting reminders not to run or push. I might even think about telling them to enjoy these days…they go by so fast.

But they probably wouldn’t even believe me.  

G as Madeline 2000
Astronaut Jack 2002