Holidays make me feel like crap (and other confessions)

Holidays make me feel like crap.

I should restate this. Because, to paraphrase a popular quote, no one can make you feel like crap without your consent. So: I make myself feel like crap when it comes to holidays.

I love holidays in theory. I love marking time. I love traditions. I love celebrations. I love an excuse to eat and drink more than I should. I love time off work and wearing pajamas all day with a mimosa in my hand and a fire in the fireplace. And most holidays themselves, the actual days, turn out to be pretty wonderful.

It’s all the days leading up to them that make me feel like a total loser. Creating the Thanksgiving menu. Shopping for Christmas presents. Planning a birthday party. They all make me feel overwhelmed and anxious, which in turn makes me frustrated with and disappointed in myself. Halloween, now one week away, is just the first in a string of inferiority-inducing milestones that stretch to New Year’s Day, which also happens to be Noah’s birthday. It’s enough to make me long for the hum-drum days of late January.

Halloween used to be simple. A great excuse for a party. I never had the body or the interest to use it as an excuse to dress as a “slutty” this or that (and last year, when I saw a “slutty Big Bird” costume, my resistance was validated) but it was fun nonetheless. Then we had kids.

It was easy at first. Fun, even. I could dress Noah in pretty much whatever costume we could assemble with things we already owned, send him out with Pat to trick-or-treat, then enjoy the spoils of their efforts (Noah never seemed to notice or care where all the candy went).

Age 1: ’50s greaser/rockabilly dude. Because he had  the hair to go as Donald Trump, but not the suit.

But this year is different. Not only did Noah turn down my choice of costume (a pirate for him and a parrot for Rory – considering Noah likes Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Rory imitates everything Noah does, it seemed perfect), but he asked that we decorate in advance of the big day.

Now, of course we have the obligatory pumpkins on the front steps, which I’m assuming we will carve this weekend. And I pulled out some of Noah’s old Halloween artwork and some spider window clings Monga gave him and put them up in the kitchen.

But he wants more. And I’m afraid it’s going to require a shopping trip. To Michael’s.

Here’s the thing: I’m not a crafty person.  I don’t own a sewing machine. Or a glue gun. Or one of those fancy cupcake carriers. And when I was working full-time, I always had an excuse. A reason why we didn’t do more holiday crafts, why I wasn’t baking spider cookies for the class Halloween party, why Noah didn’t have a clever homemade costume. Don’t get me wrong: plenty of my fellow working moms did all that stuff on top of their jobs, routinely blowing my mind. But for me, working served as a great excuse. But now I’m home, and there’s no running from the truth: I don’t want to do that stuff.

I don’t want to. The normal days are busy and crazy enough. The days I celebrate are those when we actually make it to school before car line closes, or I figure out how to build that complicated Lego thing pictured on the box, or get something on the table for dinner that didn’t come ready to heat from the freezer. To add something on top of that – costumes, decorations, gifts – is more than I can handle. A Pinterest fail waiting to happen.

But here’s the thing: I love my son. I want to be a fun mom. And so I’m going to try. I’m hoping that maybe the feeling of not wanting to is really just fear. Fear of figuring out new things, fear that trying and doing and mediocre job is worse than not trying at all.

Noah wants to be a ghost for Halloween this year. A ghost: ostensibly the easiest, cheapest costume of all time. A parent’s dream come true. Yet I found myself standing in Target today wishing that he had just begged for an overpriced, ill-fitting store bought costume like a normal kid.

“How hard can this be?” – me, next Wednesday, moments
 before ordering a costume to be overnighted from Amazon.

But no. My sweet, creative kid, who spent this morning’s entire car ride grilling me about the werewolves and haunted houses he was looking at in the October edition of National Geographic Kids, wants to be a ghost. And I will be damned if I don’t find an old bed sheet to cut some holes in and make that costume for him. He might have the most pitiful-looking costume of all the kids in his class, but I am pretty sure I will be the proudest mom.