Halloween Through the Years: A Mother Looks Back
When this picture of Ruby (Photo 1) was taken, I was barely hanging on to sanity by my fingernails. I had had a hard pregnancy, followed by a hard baby, and I was just so. damn. tired. Ruby was 10 months old, and I was emotionally and physically at my limits. She wasn’t sleeping, she wasn’t eating solid food, and she was still suffering from reflux. She and I both cried all the time. This was not what I thought motherhood was going to look like. I remember taking this picture outside in the crisp October Missouri air and having a fleeting moment of optimism – “nothing this cute can be bad, right? Dressing a baby up as a pink octopus was a good enough reason to have one, right?” But then 30 minutes later, she was screaming again, and I was contemplating leaving her on a church doorstep and running away to Mexico. I told myself it would be better the next year.
And it was. Oh, it so was. By age 22 months, Ruby was still … um, let’s call it spirited, but she was a real person now, and she was every bit as fun as she was challenging. She went as Little Red Riding Hood, and she inexplicably winked at everyone she encountered. She was extremely excited for candy, and I was extremely excited for her. I was hugely relieved that I was not a failure at motherhood after all, and after I put her to sleep, I inspected her candy (because that’s what moms do) and ate most of the good chocolates (because that’s what moms do). I was also happy beyond words to have moved home to New Orleans, where I was not facing the prospect of several months of cold, raw, gray weather.
There are no pictures from Halloween 2009. We didn’t go trick-or-treating in 2009. Ruby had a costume – an awesome one she picked herself (“a mean tree”) and her Nana lovingly made for her – but she was almost 3. Anyone else who has ever had a 3-year-old will understand. Although Ruby was getting more and more personality every day, she was also stubborn, feisty, and prone to tantrums. And so when she said she wanted to be “a mean tree” for Halloween, we all laughed and thought that was great, but when it came time to put the costume on – a masterpiece of cloth and marker and wire that her genius grandmother made her – she absolutely lost her mind. I don’t recall if she was punished from trick-or-treating or if she refused to go, but I do remember that there was lots of yelling on her part and mine, and the mean tree costume ended up shoved under her bed.
This was our first traditional, typical Halloween. Ruby was old enough to get it, compliant enough to wear her costume (Belle), and she had her own group of friends that we went with. She is seen here with her friend Zeynep, our former neighbor who now lives in Miami. By age almost-4, Ruby was still young enough to need a nap, and she didn’t get one that day before we had to leave for trick-or-treating – I remember this largely because the parents I was trick-or-treating with had tasked me with getting daiquiris for the group (treats for us, we all said), and I brought Ruby with me to the drive-thru, promising her a virgin daiquiri if she behaved. Except they didn’t have virgin daiquiris, and so my 3-year-old fell asleep in the line at the drive-thru daiquiri stand while wailing: “But I want a daiquiri. You said I could have a daiquiri! Where is my daiquiriiiiiiiiiii?!” I did not feel like the best mom ever. But she woke up in a good mood a half-hour later, and after getting about 8 pounds of Tootsie Rolls and Starburst, she forgot all about the daiquiri.
Ruby went as the Sleep Fairy, and I am pretty sure it all went well, but I was absolutely drowning in morning sickness, and I don’t recall much except ducking behind a bush to throw up because someone had the audacity to be cooking stew at one of the homes we visited. No daiquiris for me.
It was all worth it, though, because a year later I had a perfect happy baby in a lamb hat and an amazing 5-year-old who went as Princess Bubble Gum. Ruby stayed up way past her bedtime and ate way too much candy, and Georgia cooed and smiled. It might have been Halloween, but I was pretty damn thankful.
And now, October 2013, Georgia is going as a Minion from Despicable Me, and Ruby is the Flame Princess from "Adventure Time" and keeps begging to set things on fire. What could possibly go wrong?