Our ward had our annual chili cook-off/trunk or treat on Friday. This is always a really fun Halloween party with neighbors, ward members, friends, ect. It is fun to see everyone's costumes, try all of the different chili's and watch the kids have a blast with the trunk or treat.
In past years, I have never decorated our trunk. I honestly haven't really ever thought about it. In all of the hustle and bustle of getting the kids all ready in their costumes, and getting out the door, it just didn't cross my mind. For someone who loves holidays so much, and everything about them..this is kinda uncharacteristic for me.
This year, I realized this error, and decided to decorate our trunk.
So, I got on Pinterest for some ideas.
Pinterest is an interesting thing for me. It is a love/hate. Add Facebook to this as well.
I love the ideas I get off of it, but I hate the mom guilt, and the not-good-enough feelings it can give me.
As I browsed through hundreds of pictures of elaborate homemade costumes moms everywhere have spent weeks making, not to mention they are all themed, (and every family member matches with each other, and somehow the kids are all happy with dressing how their mom decides they will best match with the theme), the huge Halloween dinner productions mothers were doing for their kids...complete with themed foods in every food group, and days of shopping and planning too pull of floating faces in punch, monster finger rolls, eyeball soups inside pumpkins, and so on, not to mention the pumpkins carved to look like art masterpieces that should be hung on walls, and the list goes on and on and on.
I scrolled through pictures of trunks for trunk or treating that I knew would take hours and hours and hours to create, and I began to get really discouraged.
Don't get me wrong. I don't look down on, or think badly about people that make costumes, or are elaborate on things. I think themed costumes are cute, and artistic pumpkins are fun. We have a fun Halloween dinner too, but it is simple. That is not the issue here. To each their own..if we could just keep it that way, and leave it at that.
Believe me...I am a holiday fanatic. I absolutely love holidays..always have, always will. I get just as excited as the kids. I love each holiday, I really love decorating for them, and doing fun activities for them, and getting into the spirit of things. That is not the issue here.
As far as Halloween...it is a great holiday! I LOVE it! I am obsessed with witches, and one year, I plan on dressing up as the creepiest witch I can think of, and eventually having a huge collection of witch décor to go with it. I am all about celebrating and enjoying holidays to the fullest.
I just want to do it my way, and not feel like it isn't good enough, fun enough, detailed enough, popular enough, and so on. Facebook and Pinterest can easily make a person feel pretty inadequate very quickly.
I don't want to feel like I can't text, post, or blog pictures of our own Halloween happenings, because they will never compare to everything out there, and people won't understand that sometimes simple can be fun too, and some years, is necessary.
Do people really look at your pictures, because they think they are cute and fun, or are they checking to make sure they outdid you, and therefore get more self gratification....just saying.
Do people really post, text, blog, and pin pictures just to have fun, or is it for bragging rights and again self gratification. It can be hard to know at times, really hard to know.
I am a real person. I gravitate toward real people, real situations. I like to know the good AND the bad. I like reality. I like genuine happiness for people when things are going good, and I like genuine concern and willingness to share when things aren't perfect. I'm not sure that is what Pinterest and Facebook, and at times even blogs and group texts are saying anymore.
All of the perfect pictures, all of the "look at me, look at me," all of the Facebook posts, pictures, blogs, and so on, have started to make the holidays, and lets be real here, life in general, feel like a competition for the coolest, best, most creative, most perfect, most put together, perfect picture taking, perfect parenting, contest, and so on. As much as I hate to admit it, it gets to me, and it sucks.
Not my cup of tea if you know what I mean.
Frustrating and guilty thoughts began creeping in. I ordered my kids costumes this year, I guess I am just not crafty enough and I don't budget my time well enough to make them. I don't even have the desire to make them, it is more fun for me to let the kids look through costumes and pick one that they really want...I must not have my priorities straight.
I definitely don't have a family theme, in fact, Ben and I aren't even dressing up this year. I must be disappointing my kids, not creative, and getting boring in my "old age."
We carved pumpkins, but we let the kids draw the faces they wanted, and carved those faces. They definitely don't look like detailed Halloween scenes carved by Michelangelo. They look like pumpkin faces that kids drew and helped carve.
Our Halloween dinner.....deviled eggs to look like spiders, and hot dogs wrapped in dough, to look like mummy's. Definitely not all food groups, definitely not organic, and definitely quick and easy.
It was really easy for me to slip into discouragement, and feelings of inadequacy. I soon lost the fun Halloween spirit I was in, and instead felt like a failure.
I decided on a really easy idea for our trunk, turned off the computer and with feelings of discouragement and disappointment, I set about getting ready for the evening.
And then it came time for the kids to get ready.
I watched the excitement in their faces as they got their costumes on. The costumes THEY picked out, and THEY wanted to wear. I realized, as I watched their excitement, that it was ok that I didn't spend weeks sewing, crafting, painting and creating their costumes. They couldn't care less, and they are the ones it is all about. I realized that my kids don't care how the costume was made, or how much time was spent on it, or if I even knew how to make the costume. They were just flat out thrilled to have a costume they wanted and chose themselves. As I had this realization, my heart started to lift. My kids were happy and excited. That is my main goal, and it was accomplished.
Then, I set about making the very simple monster teeth for our trunk or treat. It was going to be a very simple trunk. Monster teeth, with a red blanket inside the car for the inside of the mouth, and a bowl of dry ice blowing smoke out of the car. Basic. Simple. Easy. Fun.
The kids started crowding around me, watching me make the teeth. Luke and William were so excited about how sharp they were, Sam was mesmerized with the dry ice, and Mary loved helping with how to design it all. The kids were having a blast with it...and I soon realized...so was I!
It was so simple, it took about 10 minutes to do, but again, it didn't matter how elaborate it was, how much time it took, or how creative it was. The kids loved it, we had fun creating it together, and to me, again, that is my goal. When I realized this, my heart was lifted a little bit more.
As we got ready to go, the kids began piling in the car, and I realized that Molly still wasn't wearing her costume. She was refusing to wear it actually. She is still struggling emotionally from the trauma of getting her tonsils out, and all that happened after. She is very sensitive, clingy, and does not trust anyone. I panicked at the thought of not having my cute little girl dressed in her adorable costume, but then the thought came into my mind. Does Molly care....no. Will she still have fun...yes. Is it worth the battle just to make sure she has a costume on at a ward party....I guess not.
So, we buckled her in the car, as she was, and headed off to the church. She was happy and comfortable. That is my main goal..and it was accomplished.
We picked up Blake and Bailey on the way. They are in a very hard time in their lives right now, and they are confused with the church as well. They are kind of at the mercy of going to church if the parent they are with at the time can take them.
We didn't want them to miss out on the best ward party of the year, so we invited them to come along.
I hadn't thought of this before, but maybe the time I spent thinking about their wellbeing and how to help out their family right now, was time well spent. Maybe I did manage my time better than I thought. Sure, I wasn't making themed costumes, and working for hours on a trunk, but I was thinking about these two kids, and how to help. Maybe that counts for something. And my heart was lifted a little more.
By the time we got to the Ward party, my feelings of discouragement, guilt, and feeling not good enough had been pushed aside, and I was realizing bit by bit, that maybe I am fine, just the way I am.
No, I don't have a Pinterest Halloween going on at my house, and no, I won't have the best pictures on Facebook (if I even feel like it is really necessary to post them along side the millions of others), with the most creative and themed family Halloween costumes, dinner, pumpkins, etc, but I have happy kids, that are truly enjoying the holiday with me, and we all are having fun together. That is a win for me. And I am ok with that.
I was able to completely enjoy the party, and appreciate all of the creative, funny, themed, not themed, creepy, elaborate, not elaborate, costumes that were out there. Everyone is just doing the best they can, in the ways they can.
My kids had a wonderful time, and I had a blast standing by our " monster mouth" handing out candy...even if it did start to rain.
The trunk or treat was a big success! We all came home happy, and loaded with sugar and smiles.
Last night, we decided to carve pumpkins and make treats for two families so we could "Boo" them.
Our neighborhood does a cute thing, where you leave a treat on someone's porch with a sign. They put the sign in their window, and then copy two more signs, and leave treats and those signs on another person's porch. And so on. We were "boo'd" a few nights ago, so we decided to make some fun spider cookies and to continue the boo'ing.
Again, I got on Pinterest to find the spider cookie recipe I had saved. Like I said...love/hate...kind of like Walmart.
I blasted right past all of the other stuff, got to what I needed, and started baking. I felt no mom guilt, discouragement, and frustration flipping through all of the ellobrate "boo" treats out there. It just wasn't me, and that's ok.
The kids drew faces on their pumpkins, and Ben helped them carve them while I baked cookies and they helped me decorate them.
I paused at one moment and felt the feeling to just look around at my family for a second.
All of my kids were happy. There was a good feeling in our home.
Ben was carving away on the pumpkins the kids had designed. He was not using all sorts of tools and carving elaborate details into even more elaborate pumpkins. He was cutting out simple funny faces his children had drawn, and they were giggling and crowded around him as he made their drawings come to life.
Molly was pounding down chocolates by the handful and squishing around the pumpkin "guts" while helping me with the cookies.
Mary was helping me design the spiders, and place the eyes on the spider cookies.
We were together, as a family, having fun, doing something simple. The kids were completely involved.
It was not perfect, the spider cookies had crooked eyes, and lopsided legs, the pumpkins were not perfectly designed and carved or elaborate, and the pictures I took of it all, are definitely something to improve upon, but...
that is not what I saw when I stopped and looked.
I saw a family, spending time together, having fun. I saw kids smiling and laughing, feeling so proud of what they created, I smelled pumpkin seeds in the oven ( made so simply, but so yummy), and I saw love and happiness.
We all piled into the car to deliver our "boo" treats, and the kids were excited. We picked two houses, and the kids rang the doorbells and ran as fast as they could back to the car. William thought it was absolutely hilarious, and he laughed his head off as he ran back from the houses. His laughter was contagious, and had us all laughing as we tried to drive off before getting caught.
It was such a fun night with my family.
I saw my main goals in this life, being accomplished during this moment.
I am so grateful for the gentle whisperings and reminders from a loving Heavenly Father, that let me know that I am doing alright, and that help me see the little things that I am doing, that make a difference.
It can be so hard in a Pinterest/Facebook/group text/blog world, to feel good enough, creative enough, pretty enough, strong enough, fast enough, parenting well enough, and so on. You never really know motives, or true stories behind the pictures, posts and texts. You never know that reality. You only know what people want you to think or know about them. And most of the time, it is not reality, but when it is all you see, you begin to wonder if it is, and you are the one not quite measuring up.
Sometimes, I think I just need to step back, take inventory of what really, honestly matters to me, make sure I am accomplishing that (no matter how or in what way), and realize that that is what truly defines how I am doing, and if I am good enough. That is between my, my family, and my Father in Heaven.
Today is Halloween. We are going to rock the day, haunt the night, collect bucket loads of candy, eat ourselves into sugar comas, scare ourselves sensless, watch spooky movies, light up the pumpkins, and and enjoy it to the fullest...Maynard style.
And that will be good enough for me.