brought to you by our dear friend, Mommy Weirdest.
Minnie Mouse, a Clown, Snow White and a Bride. No, not the start of some elaborate joke, those were just my first four Halloween costumes. From the time I was 18 months all the way through preschool, my grandma handmade each one of my costumes. This wasn’t a “get what you get” situation, but instead, I told Grandma what my costume wishes and she made them come true.
But in Kindergarten my wish was to be Kimberly the Pink Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger. And I did not want Grandma to grant this wish. Because her Power Ranger suit was probably going to be cotton and felt— not the stretchy Lycra look Kimberly had on the show. And no matter how good a seamstress she was, Grandma could not make the Power Ranger helmet that I NEEDED to bring the look together. So for the first time ever I got a Halloween costume from the department store. The perfect Pink Power Ranger outfit complete with pterodactyl belt buckle and a perfectly pink molded plastic mask that looked exactly like I imagined.
It was THE best. Until it wasn’t.
Because my Grandma didn’t make my costumes to save money, or be more eco-friendly, or because I had wild costume wishes you couldn’t find in the store. She didn’t make costumes for my brother, or my cousins. Grandma made me costumes because Grandma knew me, and saw me, quirks and all.
I was a very sensitive kid. Super picky about clothing and tags and types of fabric and seams and the way things fit and how itchy it was and on and on and on. And Grandma knew this and when she made my costumes she did so with such care for my unique preferences. No itchy tulle. No scratchy polyester. She even measured my arms perfectly so that I could have Snow Whites signature puff sleeves without uncomfortable elastic digging into my arms. Those first four costumes were not just what I asked for, they were made for me.
Back to the Pink Power Ranger. The suit was form fitting, sure, just like in the show. But the Velcro itched, and no matter how close my mom cut the massive tag the nub still scratched uncomfortably at the back of my neck. It was also made of a super thin material, good for fighting off putties, but not ideal for an Indiana Halloween. I had to wear sweats underneath the costume when I went to school which on one hand was a relief from the itchy fabric, but on the flip side made me feel like a very lumpy Power Ranger. And that mask; the mask I HAD to have for this costume to be perfect? The plastic edges felt sharp on my skin, the elastic pulled the mask so close to my face that it smooshed my nose and made it hard to breath, and mouth-breathing made the whole thing feel damp and steamy. I wore it, but we went back to Grandma creations (and DIY thrifts) after that.
Halloween doesn’t have much of a reputation as being a “feelings” holiday. The usual ways we show love, through cards or gifts, are left by the wayside for most Halloween traditions. But how you interact with your child in regards to costume picking can make for meaningful memories and communicate to your child that you see them, and you understand and value their interests, their quirks, and their boundaries.
Doing this doesn’t mean you have to go full Pinterest mom (I tried that once, less than 4-weeks post C-Section, and the only thing it communicated to my tiny baby is that mom can be a little insane sometimes). Sometimes it looks like letting them be a Minecraft Creeper 3 years in a row because it’s still his most favorite game. It could mean driving your kid to their grandparents, their cousins, and their best friends house so that they can show off their costume, or it could mean heading home after hitting 3 trick-or-treat houses because they’re tired and cold.
Sometimes you show your kid you love them by picking the least offensive fabric to make their costume, other times you show it by letting them exert their independence and pick an ill-advised Power Ranger Mask over anything else.
So whether you’re hunting for the perfect costume in the right size, or dusting off your 8th grade sewing skills to make exactly what your kid asked for, I promise you even if the night falls apart, even if the costume arrives and is a little cheap looking, or your creation is held mostly together by hot-glue and hope– showing up, listening, and putting in the effort to make meaningful memories for your kiddo is always worth it.