I was going to post some Hurricane Sandy photos for my first "welcome back to power and its modern conveniences" post—yes, it blew—but the photo below is so much more timely.
It's fluffy snow covering my jack-o'-lanterns and mums, and I took the picture tonight, right after we got back from trick or treating. See, the town postponed Halloween a week because of the hurricane. Then we got a nor'easter. (There's a punch line in there somewhere, right?) And even though the temperature is 32, and snow is blowing and it's ass butt cold, the neighborhood parents convinced me (Chuck was stuck at work) that I should join them trick or treating for the kids.
"They're so excited," one mom told me. "You can't not take them out."
Um, yes I can not.
Except, I let her talk me into it.
The kids' costumes needed some refining. Instead of being a knight, Junior wore snow pants, boots, a jacket, a hat and gloves. I crammed two cardboard "skis" down the back of his jacket. Voila...a skier. I stuffed Everett's snowsuit with socks and pantyhose until he was so puffy he couldn't bend over. Voila...Ralphie's brother from A Christmas Story.
We hit the streets.
No one had their lights on. Rather, every 10th house had their lights on, so we did a fair amount of trudging. Up hills. Across lawns. Zig zagging streets. There were casualties. The plow went by twice. One kid fell off the steps and into the shrubs. Everett lost a mitten. Candy became wet and frozen. The snow stung our eyes. My toes and chin went numb.
"This is ridiculous," I said to an elderly women who greeted us at one door.
"You're crazy!" she hissed at us. "Crazy!"
"She's right!" I cried as we walked away. "What are we doing? Our parents wouldn't have braved a nor'easter for us—so we could trick or treat for a handful of candy. We are crazy."
I said I was done. I said I was going home.
Most of the neighbors agreed, except for one father.
"You seem to be doing a lot of complaining," he said.
His comment left me speechless. I had assumed we were all in the same boat: miserably dragging ourselves through the cold and snow so our already-indulged children (who'd celebrated Halloween last week at a neighborhood party and at a school-wide costume parade) could again experience the novelty of trick or treating. I had assumed we all couldn't wait for it to be over.
Instead, I guess, Mr. Sunshine.
Back at the homestead—and again basking in the delicious heat of the furnace—I told Chuck I wanted to punch Mr. Sunshine's lights out. How dare he accuse me of complaining. How dare he.
"He's dumb," Chuck offered.
Maybe. But here's the thing. I refuse to feel ashamed because I wasn't aglow in the joy of doing Halloween for the fifth time. I couldn't use a stroller in the snow. Everett couldn't keep up with the older kids, so I carried him the entire time. In his snowsuit. All 30 pounds of him.
Chuck and I made Junior two costumes this year. We decorated pumpkins. We raked leaves and jumped. We drank cider. We made caramel apples. We listened to the Monster Mash. Again and again and again. We even did the damn crayon and leaf rubbings and framed them. We did Halloween. I loved all of it (most of it) but for God's sake, it's almost Thanksgiving. At this point, Halloween needed to be taken out back and shot already.
I hate that I even need to justify my actions—my dedication to my child. I hate that I feel better seeing my argument in print when deep down, I know I'm a damn good mother. That's my problem, not Mr. Sunshine's, but the whole exchange begs the question: when is it ever enough?
I keep thinking I know the answer. Then I realize, I know so very little.
(Except that I hate Halloween in the snow! Hate it, you jackass.)