My mom always made our Halloween costumes. Sometimes that led to bad suggestions (Mrs Olsen the coffee lady, anyone?) but mostly we ended up with versions of vampires, cats, bats, hobos (does anyone still do “hobo” anymore?), pirates, and so on. But as I remember it, we almost never got “store-bought” costumes–which explains, I think, why I feel so conflicted about the fact that this Halloween, the boys will be dressed in head-to-toe polyester (let’s stay away from live flames, okay, boys?); costumes that are pretty much devoid of originality and creativity.


The costume discussion started strong: Caleb thought maybe he’d be a dead Easter Bunny (skeleton suit, black bunny ears), then a skeleton pirate (skeleton suit, pirate hat); and Liam thought he’d create some wildly complex character out of some Japanese card deck–a cross between Mad-Eye Moody, a spy, and a ninja, but with a fedora.

Then mistakes were made. Each boy was taken to the costume store to find the components of these costumes…Caleb saw a ninja sword (five bucks) and that was that: all he cared about was finding some kind of costume that would let him carry the sword.  Liam saw the “Emperor of Doom” package and was entranced by a costume that had a medallion and a skeleton mask and a sword.

I tell myself “I’m a working mom, I just don’t really have time to make costumes…” (as if non-working moms somehow do have time whip up magical costumes with just a few waves of the glue gun) but my guilt at letting my kids wear such generic crap was not assuaged until I found myself at 10pm the other night baking both banana bread and chocolate chip cookies for school bake sales.

Crazy, right? Just go buy some cookie mix, or take some advice from the working-mom narrator of I Don’t Know How She Does It: in the opening scene of the book, she is gently smashing the crusts of store-bought pies in order to make them look like home-made, for a school bake sale.

So that’s it. I’ve discovered my line in the sand: store-bought costumes are okay. Store-bought bake sale items aren’t. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel twinges of guilt about the Emperor of Doom marching around in his shiny black poly-blend costume, but hey. Something’s gotta give–costumes, bake sales, getting my own work done (hahahaha fat chance)…At least they’re eating homemade cookies (whole wheat flour! no preservatives!) while they march around in outfits that, if they leave them on too long, will probably give them both a rash.