Editor’s Note: As self-identified geeks, we really like Halloween around here, and I like to think that geek culture staples like cons and cosplay have contributed to Halloween being a bigger and bigger deal each year. Considering this, I asked our writers to share their stories about Halloween costuming. — Ginnis Tonik
The other day a few moms and I discussed our kids’ costume wants for Halloween and how they compared to our costumes as kids. Most of us admitted to wearing costumes made from grown up clothing and how we were satisfied with these makeshift costumes. In fact, I can remember one of my favorite costumes being made out of my dad’s black t-shirt. I used green eyeshadow to cover my face and my pointy hat came from the dollar store. Witch on a dime equaled a happy kid.
As an ’80s kid, I don’t think costumes were as readily available and homemade costumes were the norm. It’s possible, but I don’t remember four or five aisles dedicated to Halloween costumes and decorations at the local supermart. Now, on a good day in October, I can walk into Target and get a Spider-Man costume for less than twenty dollars. On an even better day, I can walk into Goodwill and get a Spider-Man costume for less than two dollars. And that should be good enough. It really should. Yet, I’m a geek mom and that declaration has turned into a sense of duty to provide my children with homemade costumes. There’s a pressure I put on myself to compete with all the other online moms who use their geek skills to craft amazing creations for their kids.
But it wasn’t always that way. It started a couple of years ago when my daughter asked to be a tarantula, but none of the costumes at the stores or online met with the specifications she had in mind. She was seven years old at the time and I didn’t want to disappoint her. I mean, how complicated could making a tarantula costume be? Pinterest is full of DIY costume how-tos and inspiration.
Little did I realize that costuming at the direction of a seven-year-old could become insanely complicated. As I hovered over my sewing machine the day of Halloween rushing to get spider legs sewn together, I vowed to never make a kid costume again.
Then it happened. The it that changed everything. My daughter came home from school, put on her costume, and declared me the best mommy ever. Best. Mommy. Ever. A much coveted title from a mom who has made her kids eat meatloaf with chopsticks because I didn’t feel like washing forks.
Never mind that the costume fell to pieces at the end of the two hour, three-neighborhood trick-or-treating tour. My kid was happy. After posting her pic on Facebook the likes and “great job” comments rolled in. That tricky feeling of validation soon followed. This was now my thing.
So, when my daughter asked to be a velociraptor for the next Halloween, I knew I had to deliver.
My husband attempted to be the voice of reason, but again, I thought how hard could it be? I’d simply learn to expertly papier-mache from YouTube. The rest would be a snap.
Again, I worked making a one-of-a kind costume up until my kid came home from school on Halloween Day. I was horrified at the final result, but she loved it. It too fell apart by the end of the evening. Afterwards when I slumped down on the couch and stole candy from the kids’ buckets, my husband asked me why I couldn’t save time, money, and stress by buying a costume from Target.
I thought about it long and hard. It really isn’t about competing with other geek moms. It’s a purely selfish reason. There are going to be many years between now and when my daughter has her own kids. Some of those years I’m going to go from best mommy ever to worst mom in the world. I expect that and I’ll make peace with it as it happens. But when we come out on the other side and she looks back on those little things I did for her to make her feel special, I want her to remember those costumes as a way for me to show my love for her and for the things she loved, like tarantulas and velociraptors.
This year my husband has already asked my kids to “take it easy on mommy.” We all ignore him. The littlest is getting in on the homemade action, and I’ve bought the fabric to make him Baymax in the red armor from Big Hero 6. My daughter has chosen an easier costume this year and will be Alex from Minecraft.
Wish us luck.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, this year my costume will be vintage “tired mommy.” Homemade, of course.