We hadn’t even left the party store when the guilt, and a small dose of regret, hung over me like dark, spooky clouds on Halloween night.
With my elated daughter clutching her brand new Halloween costume, I put the receipt in my wallet for safe keeping, just in case I’d need it for a remorseful return.
I was feeling gloomy just thinking back on all of the homemade costumes I wore as a kid; the chunk of change I had just spent on a packaged costume only made it worse. (In past years, my daughter had simply pulled a princess dress from her closet to wear trick-or-treating.)
I know I’m far from alone. A TODAY Moms and iVillage poll of nearly 500 parents found that 82 percent of parents don't make their kids’ Halloween costumes.
But, with Oct. 31 quickly approaching, no dress-up dress left unworn, and little ability, time or motivation to pull together a costume myself, to the store we went. In no time, my daughter found an adorable candy corn ensemble.
In a bit of justification, I chose the bigger of two sizes to prolong its life. “Maybe you’ll wear this again in two years,” I told my 6-year-old, who gave me a puzzled look in return.
I know I’m also in good company in the feeling-like-I-should-do-it-all-myself department.
“Many moms do feel guilty when they don’t have time to do the extra things they would like to do like making a Halloween costume,” says TODAY Moms contributor Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions.
Why? Maybe it’s because if our mothers made our costumes, perhaps we feel that we aren’t measuring up as moms if we don’t whip up elaborate butterfly wings or create an iPhone for our kids to wear trick-or-treating.
But you are measuring up if you’re spending time with your kids and enjoying them, McCready says. “That’s the most important thing you can do as a mom,” she says. “Please don’t feel guilty.”
Most kids don’t care where their costume comes from, she says. And if that’s not enough to make you feel better, try McCready’s mom litmus test. She suggests wondering how you would want your child, as an adult, to finish this sentence: My mother always ...
For some moms, their kids’ memories of homemade costumes and home-baked cupcakes will be important. But for most of us, McCready says, they won’t make the top 10 list.
“That allows you to prioritize what’s going to be most important,” McCready says. “You want, ‘My mom always had time to play a game, read books, shoot hoops.’”
Our lives are so much busier than when our parents were raising us that it’s “unnecessary energy,” McCready says, to feel bad if we can’t do something our mothers did, like make dinner seven nights a week or keep an immaculate house.
My daughter is so in love with her costume, and her walking embodiment of the candy corn - one of my favorite candies - is just cuter-than-cute, so there’s no turning back now. Maybe we’ll just see it again for Halloween 2013.
Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York.