My House Is Still A Mess In October

Halloween is less than a week away which means our dining room is littered with bits of cardboard and duct tape. Even though everyone seems to settle on costumes earlier than they used to, I still can’t seem to start assembling anything until the middle of October. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if all I was doing was running out to pick up a costume at Walmart, but my kids have not chosen a “name brand” Halloween character in quite some time, and while the older three can now spearhead their own costume efforts, Fulton and Teddy’s costumes remain squarely in my court.

After purchasing Teddy’s costume last year (off Amazon after much searching), I promised him I would make his costume this year. And since he and Fulton both chose anime characters, there was no chance of me buying costumes for them anyway (sort of like the year they both went as Mortal Combat characters). The stakes were raised when Addie and Edie both won prizes at a local Comic Con event with their homemade costumes in April and now both younger boys want, not only handmade costumes from Mama, but award winning handmade costumes from Mama. And another local Comic Con is this weekend so the pressure is on!!!

The older three have been at work for awhile, but even they have pushed much of the work until the last couple of weeks. Byron, who started work in August, hit a wall in September and hasn’t made progress since. I’m trying to help him trouble shoot and figure out a plan, but I don’t know if he’ll get his costume finished. His Cobra Commander costume from last year was EPIC, but seeing as he continues to grow several inches every time I turn around, the jacket and pants are too small for him to wear it again this year. Edie’s costume is a major paper maché project, so every minute I’m not working on the boys costumes, I’m trying to direct her. And even Addie, who can sew a cloak and a corset, is asking for advice.

Considering I’m not a great seamstress or costume designer, just an enthusiastic mom who became hooked on some cute ‘Family Fun’ magazine costumes many years back, it’s all a bit overwhelming now. I never meant for us to turn into a cosplay family; I never even knew what cosplay was when I started building Byron an AT-ST costume years ago. But somehow, costume building has become a thing in this family, at least for the kids. Tony and I will look as boring as usual (though I fully attend to make a cool costume for myself at some point before my 87th birthday).

The costume planning process in our house:

  • Nov. 1: “Mama, I know what I want to be for Halloween next year.” Me: I CANNOT. EVEN. RIGHT NOW.
  • December 1: “Mama, I definitely want to be [insert name of random comic book/ Star Wars/ anime] character. You should start making my costume now so you’re not so stressed out later.”
  • January 1: “Mama, I definitely want to be [insert name of different random comic book/ Star Wars/ anime] character. You should start making my costume now so you’re not so stressed out later.”
  • February 1: “Mama, I definitely want to be [insert name of third or fourth random comic book/ Star Wars/ anime] character. You should start making my costume now so you’re not so stressed out later.”
  • Repeat the last three steps through August.
  • September 1: Me- “Okay, you have until October 1 to pick a FINAL costume.” [Begin hoarding cardboard.]
  • Between September 2 and September 30: [Children select 2,329,293 possible characters.] Me: [suggest numerous cool costumes which are all soundly rejected]
  • October 1: “Mama, I will be [completely different character than any other character named before and totally unknown to me or 98% of the population]. But next year, I will be [character whose costume is already 50% off at Walmart].”

I have not yet succeeded in convincing everyone to participate in a family costume, nor convinced either Fulton or Teddy to wear a costume that incorporates their wheelchairs-not even Professor Xavier! They’ve also both rejected the opportunity to work with the Magic Wheelchair people (it’s never a sure thing, but neither one has wanted their name suggested as a possible candidate).

Halloween costumes (which become cosplay costumes, or maybe the other way around?) have become a family tradition. Just as my wedding dress became a first holy communion dress, or favored clothes are passed down from one child to the next, so do costume pieces lovingly move from sibling to sibling, repurposed from one costume to the next with a coat of spray paint, or Sharpie design added.

As I sat altering the gloves from Edie’s costume last year (to be used by Fulton this year), and waiting for the paint to dry on the armor used two years ago by Fulton that Teddy will use this year, I thought several times, “I don’t have time for this!” I hadn’t showered, there was laundry to put away, and schoolwork to grade. Why was I making time for these elaborate arts and crafts projects in light of all my other pressing responsibilities?

I guess because this is something I can make for my kids that they still love, even when it’s not perfectly executed. My cooking doesn’t always excite them, my jokes and puns are never appreciated, and heavens knows they don’t want to read what I write. But the love of costumes remains. Even if all I can do for them is paint a logo, help hem a seam, or style their hair with neon hair spray. They love and appreciate it. And I guess it is a fun way to show my love for them. As kids get older, it can be hard to know how to show love, and honestly big kids don’t always show love and appreciation the way they did as small children. But for me, Halloween costumes (of all things) seem to bridge that gap quite nicely.

So anyway, just a few quick (?) thoughts on costumes, since I haven’t thought of much else lately. Next week, pictures (if I remember after inhaling 30 tons of colored hairspray).

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  1. This made me laugh. Every year, it’s always the last minute hustle to get All Saints Day costumes ready. Every year, I say next year will be different. The biggest obstacle is definitely them making up their mind!

  2. What a great post in so many ways! I really wanted hyperlinks to all the referenced costumes and the magic wheelchair… but with halloween on Thursday, who has the time!
    Your Halloween costume timeline is identical in our house and pretty similar to the birthday party time line – part of the reason we switched to having birthday parties every other year. This year my son wanted to be a Lego character from a brand new lego set, so I’ve discovered a new (and debatable) painting talent and painted a lego mask. Can’t wait to see the results!

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