Pin It Tonight is the night before Halloween. Exciting. Time to put my true Mom Skills to work.
Well, not tonight. Maybe I’ll get started tomorrow. Spencer isn’t here to help out with the normal evening duties and although I could take them all on myself and still find time to bake and decorate Mummy cookies; it isn’t common for me to have a quiet evening to myself with a relatively easy dinner practically cooking itself in the kitchen (Thank God for slow cookers!) and my son playing calmly and quietly with his basket of cars tipped over at his disposal in his bedroom; SO I’m spending the evening on here instead. Spencer finally told his job that if he couldn’t get any extra hours than he’d have no choice but to leave. They responded like crazy! There haven’t been more than two days over the past two weeks that he hasn’t gotten at least a small extra run. Today was an extra five hours. He only works part time, but he’s union and makes around 16 bucks an hour - so a little bit of extra work really goes a long, long way in our family. It’s a blessing to get the extra work right before the holidays.
I feel like this year is my first REAL Halloween as a mom. This is my third (I can’t BELIEVE IT! THIRD!) Halloween with Mary, but only my first as her official Stepmom. And although this is actually Matthew’s second Halloween, he’s close to two this year so he’ll be able to actually romp around outside through the neighbor’s yards and “WRAAAAAAWRRR!!” At strangers like he loves to do on any normal given day anyway. He’ll be out of his mind with excitement -- which guarantees that Spencer and I will have a great time, too. Mary’s mom actually took her for the weekend but is dropping her off at home to go Trick-or-Treating with us. I want to make it extra special.
Now, I’m not exactly one of those homemade-baby-food-blending moms or anything. I consider myself pretty down-to-earth. Being only twenty-three and raising a two-year-old and a nine-year-old isn’t easy to keep up with; two-year-olds keep you on your toes - literally, while raising a fourth-grader is like having your mind continuously challenged; your priorities endlessly questioned; your limits always stretched. With Matthew I face challenges like learning how to do everything from unlocking doors to setting tables with him in my arms; I have to have one eye on him at every second of every moment of every day to keep him from sticking his Bob the Builder screwdriver into the electrical outlets (whose plastic protective covers he has learned to easily slip off); I have to teach him not to hit the other kids at daycare when he’s left there for sometimes as long as eleven hours a day while I’m at work. With Mary, everyday feels like a marathon. From waking her up at 5:30 a.m., racing to collect signed papers and pennies for the penny-drive or money for her book-orders or the new clarinet for her band lessons, reading over her homework and signing her agenda book, reading over the description she wrote in her reading log from last night’s twenty-minutes of reading and signing that; to couching her through multiplication homework every afternoon and arguments with best friends who’ve suddenly and remorselessly moved on to NEW best friends without her permisssion. Everyday is an adventure that we struggle with a smile to get through. It’s hectic, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Chores. The impending first period. That pre-teen awkward phase of weight gain and braces. First weeks of allowance. Grades and DSTP tests.
All I want is to be everything she needs while still keeping up with being everything that Matthew deserves to get out of his Mommy, too. I’ve accepted a very large load of responsibility and it’s my goal in life to live up to it as well as any woman ten years my senior could. I’m reminded of everything that Mary doesn’t have in me when I go to the preschool that the youngest in my charge at work attends - where all of the moms are stay-at-home’s, ten years older than I at least, living off of incomes I’ll work my life away never reaching. It’s tough to swallow but it makes me want to work harder; it makes me determined to make myself more than I would be without that perspective. I don’t have the extra time to put together creative cocoa pebbles Haunted House treats for all of the kids in my son’s two-year-old-early-learning-program-class that he attends three days a week. 1. Because my son will never attend anything like that and 2. Because… well, things like that are unfortunately just too often out of the realm of realistic grocery spending and productive time management.
Spencer and I are penny-pinchers. Instead of taking our whole family out to the movies and dropping sixty bucks between arcade games and overpriced popcorn, we play Littlest Pet Shop Monopoly at home and ride bikes with Mary through the neighborhood. We take advantage of Kids Eat Free deals at restaurants and days that places like IHOP have free face painting. We keep a tight budget that provides us peace of mind by allowing us to save for the future and to never have to worry about not affording emergencies if they were to come up.
BUT! This year has been such a ride for everyone. We came so close to losing our house in Spencer’s divorce that we’d actually started packing… only to get it back by the skin of our teeth and a great, big answered prayer from The Big Guy upstairs. We’ve flirted with the idea of bringing another baby (likely our last) into the family. And we’ve started reconstruction and home improvement projects on the house. It’s a new beginning for our family and I want to make some changes in the way that we run things around here in light of that fresh start. This year for Halloween:
1. I’m dressing up with the kids.
2. I’m baking my first Pumpkin Pie!
3. We’re doing a bit of decorating (especially outside)
4. We’re doing Halloween activities with the kids
(Painting pumpkins making spooky treats)
5. Sending out Homemade Halloween cards with photos of the kids on the front.
The twist in our little challenge is that we’re also ripping up the upstairs carpet today.
Also, for my costume, I have a few challenges that I need to find a solution for by the end of the day. This will be my first adult Halloween dressing up. I went to one Halloween party in college at the dorms but I just threw on an old cowboy hat and some boots with my typical jeans and called myself a Cowgirl. This year I wanted to match with one of the kids. Matthew will be a lion this year and Mary wanted to be a Candy Corn Witch. I decided to go with being Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz so that Matthew could be my little Cowardly Lion. The only Dorothy outfit they had was the skanky one… and at the last minute I decided to just get it, hoping that maybe I could make a few alterations to it to make it a little more conservative. It really didn’t seem all that skimpy from the bag, but the biggest issue was that when I put it on, it was too big… which just made it awkward to wear. I tried to return it but all of the costume stores have really strict policies.
Another solution would be to just make myself a lion costume with one Giant, furry coat that we have down in the basement. It would be warmer, more conservative and would even match more obviously with Matthew’s costume. Since we already spent fifty bucks on the Dorothy costume, I’m not going to spend any more money on another costume, but if I could make one for free than I’d feel better about just forgoing the Wizard of Oz theme for this year. I’m thinking that if I can paint my face just like Matthew’s, and make myself some ears and a tail, than I’ll be good to go. Leaving the hood up would give the illusion of a main so that people would get what I was, but then I realized that that would make me a daddy lion instead of a mommy one…. Is that weird?