It’s Halloween; it seems that no matter how people celebrate, “What are you dressing up as?” is the big question. I personally love to dress up in costume but this year I’m just not into it. I know, shame on me for not painting my belly like a pumpkin. I’ve seen some very cute displays but I don’t have that kind of talent. Now that I have to take it easy and stay as still as possible, I’ll only be handing out candy to the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. No clever pregnancy costumes…or so I thought. It has come to my attention that when little ones approach me and look up, they can’t see anything above the belly. These poor kids must think I am the Headless Horseman! (Yet another reason why I shouldn’t paint my belly like a pumpkin! These kids will be scarred for life.) As for the older kids and teens who can see above my orbit- I mean waistline- I am going as free birth control. No need for a scary mask…if a scary blood-n-guts costume comes to the door while Firstborn is around, I’ll just one-up it with my stretchmarks. I could always not put on make-up and go as a zombie. It turns out, I am more prepared for tonight than I thought.
I have a younger brother who took great delight in trying to scare and terrorize me throughout our youth. It was his prerogative and his job; he excelled at it. Four weeks after Firstborn arrived, the military decided we needed to move from Georgia to Arizona. On the way we stopped in Texas to visit family and get some rest. During this break, my brother revealed a new tattoo, receiving disgruntled eyebrow raises from the grandparents. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. “You know, I got a new marking myself.” His eyes enlarged in disbelief. “No way. You? You’re not an inker. Really? What’d you get?” The trap was baited, set and I had a nibble. I pulled him into a room and swore him to secrecy in the usual sibling you-can’t-tell-Mom-code manner.
After great dramatic suspense and an explanation that becoming a mother was a moment I wanted to cherish with a permanent marking, I lifted my shirt to the ribs and revealed my ‘lightening tattoo’; the still very visible silver marks that came from carrying a 9 lb boy only four weeks before. I would have loved to watch my family members’ reactions as they heard a blood curdling scream ring throughout the house. My poor brother ran to the living room covering his eyes, threw himself onto the floor, and flopped around like a fish. As the family rushed to his aid, I emerged with a triumphant smile and let out my best sinister laugh. Just a mention of my ‘tattoo’ still makes him shudder. It more than made up for the time he put every article of my clothing into the swimming pool.
Costumes are fun at any age; we can don any identity and partake in any theme. Dressing up kids can be lots of fun, but today I got to help ‘dress’ my mom. She now works at my beloved alma mater. It is a Texas institution where maroon shirts are almost a school uniform and any shade of orange is distasteful, especially the rival school’s color of ‘burnt’ orange. (Burned is a word. Burnt is not.) The only exception is hunting safety gear. In fact, even the standard orange and white striped roof of the Whataburger has a painted maroon stripe. This causes a problem on an orange and black themed holiday.
Here’s a glimpse of the early morning conversation.
Mom: “Today we are able to dress up at the office for Halloween. I was going to wear a pearl snap shirt with broncos, jeans, and boots and go as a cowgirl.”
Me: “Mom, you work at Texas A&M. That’s not considered dressing up.”
Mom: “Oh. You’re right. Well, I was going to find something orange and black, but I don’t have a stitch of orange in my entire closet.”
Me: “Mom, you’re such a good Ag.”
So today when I’m asked, “What are you going to be for Halloween?” the answer is simple…a mom. It’s as sweet and rewarding as a pillowcase full of candy and more terrifying than a haunted house. Inside this house it is my job to conquer the scary and vanquish the monsters that may crop up. I handle blood, guts, candy rationing, and lighting the way for my kids in a world that can be dark and scary. As little superheroes, ghosts, and ghouls come to my home tonight, I hope that they will see more than a big-bellied headless horseman. I hope they will see a mom that gets down to their eye-level and gives them sweet things with loving smile. After all, today is about pretending to be anything you want to be.