Every holiday, I do this. It’s chronicled again and again on this blog: I swear that I am not going to get all worked up over a holiday/birthday/class party EVER AGAIN. No more homemade cupcakes with strawberry puree for a bunch of 5-year-olds who are just going to lick off the frosting anyway. No more customized labels for water bottles. No more elaborate favors. Never again. I’m done-done-done-donezo. And I mean it at the time; I really do.

The ROI, as they say, is very low on these things. I have never seen Ruby or any other kid give two shits about a customized water bottle label, and whenever I see elaborate favors sent home from other moms (and yeah, not to be sexist, but it’s always other moms), my first thought is never, “Oh, how cute! What a great mom!” but rather, “Aw, crap, the bar just got raised again.”

But I’m done with this cycle. I give in. I accept it. I will always cook too much food at Thanksgiving, I will always buy too much stuff at Christmas, I will always eat too much candy at Easter – and I will always care too much at every holiday that touches my kids’ lives in any way. This is just who I am.

I don’t like it, but I don’t like a lot of things about myself; still, at age 34, it’s time to stop fighting my basic makeup.

I really thought I was doing better this year. I wasn’t planning to send home candy with Ruby’s classmates or bake cupcakes for the class party because her school is cracking down on sugar consumption. And I wasn’t going to do anything for Georgia’s class because she’s 2, and I have gotten moderately more sensible about doing stuff they are guaranteed to not even remember. I ordered their costumes, and I was going to take them trick-or-treating, but that was it. It was going to be the most low-key Halloween since I had kids.

But then Georgia’s school sent out an email inviting parents to send in goodie bags, and I didn’t want to look like the slacker mom, and then I realized that if I did something for Georgia’s class, I’d have to do something for Ruby’s, and then I started looking on Etsy, and the next thing I knew, I’d driven to six stores in the metro area looking for plastic vampire fangs so that we could attach little tags to them that said, “Have a fang-tastic Halloween,” and I’d lost two full hours of my life and I was $60 poorer. And then, God help me, I emailed Ruby’s teacher and offered to bring water. “I’ll even attach cute labels!” I said, exclamation point and all.

What the hell is wrong with me? No, seriously. I realized that I had kind of lost it somewhere between Party City (NOT recommended) and Halloween Village (highly recommended in terms of customer service but utterly deficient in the way of cheap plastic vampire fangs), but I still went to a Walgreen’s, where I, in defeat, bought three bags of plastic eyeballs, figuring Ruby could give them out with the “fang-tastic” message and even though it wouldn’t be quite as cute, it would be OK. But I had told Ruby we would do vampire fangs, and so I decided to just give Target a try because it was right there, and lo and behold, I bought 32 pairs of vampire fangs for $4. They even glow in the dark! Moral of the story: Always start at Target.

But here’s the funny part – I was lamenting to my coworker about all of this nonsense because she has a 5-year-old and is equally as insane as I am. I told her of my endless quest for vampire fangs, and she said, “Oh, man, I feel you. I can actually do you one better: I went to four stores looking for plastic eyeballs, and I finally gave up and just bought a bunch of ping-pong balls and made the eyeballs myself with ping-pong balls and colored Sharpies. I realized around the 12th eyeball that I was totally crazy, but by then, I was in too deep to stop. But fangs? They have fangs at the Rite Aid across the street from the office.”

“Dammit,” I said. “I didn’t even look there. But eyeballs? I have 30 plastic eyeballs in my car that I am just going to return now that I found the fangs. I could’ve just given them to you.”

We just looked at each other. And sighed. And went home to finish taping labels to water bottles.