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November 9, 2013

A Halloween message to my future self

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The Daily Star

---- — I’m writing this column a few days before Halloween. And I’m writing this mostly for my future self, as a reminder of the lessons learned this particular last week in October.

To begin, future self, that box of Halloween decorations, which you had your husband haul down from the attic, is still sitting in the middle of the TV room waiting for someone to put them up. Please remember that there are no magical decorating fairies. Martha Stewart definitely does not live here, which is for the best, because she would be appalled.

Still, let’s try to pick up our game, shall we.

Yes, current self, I know that it has been busy and that every Halloween comes as a complete surprise. It’s like I’m the goldfish in the bowl who is surprised by the castle each and every time.

I thought that early childhood would be the hardest phase of my kids’ lives. Not hard for them, mind you, but hard for the adults. But it’s not hard to get up a dozen times each night — exhausting and soul-crushing, yes, but not technically a challenge.

I thought that once we got through that, it would be a cake walk. Sadly, there is no cake.

Yes, I get plenty of sleep but what I almost never get anymore is enough time. All I do is schlep various children to various places where they do various things, all of which require various amounts of money. What I’m left with — other than no money — are weird little pieces of time that aren’t really big enough to go all the way back home because I’ll just have to leave again the instant I get there or that are too big to simply wait in the car because I can’t find a comfortable position in which to read.

Which says nothing about all about the minutes sucked away by my actual job, which would be the one that provides the money that the children require. Lately, there is always a stack of papers that need to be read or tests that need to be graded or lecture notes that need to be arranged. While I love what I do — both with job and kids — there isn’t a whole lot of time left over to do more than that, like, say, actually decorate the house for Halloween.

The costumes fell into place this year, however. I can’t take any credit for this win. The kids have finally figured out that they are on their own for costuming ideas because both their father and I continuously fail to notice how Halloween has snuck up on us, despite the fact that it happens at the same time every dang year.

The Tween simply informed me what she planned to be, which was an undead fairy, and that her costume would require black lipstick and a trip to Claire’s in the Mall. All I needed to do was to pay for what she needed. I agreed, secure in the knowledge that $20 was a small price to pay to avoid our yearly frenzy on the night before Oct. 31 when we would scour the kids’ closets for something costume-y to throw on them.

The downside to missing that annual event is that those closets desperately need a good tossing. I remain convinced that Hoffa is beneath one of the layers of kid filth.

The Boy’s costume was even easier. He’s a huge fan of Minecraft, a computer game. While I’m usually appalled by the amount of time he spends playing it, it does make him easy to buy for. With one trip to Office Max for a cardboard box and some tape, plus a template already made by some random guy online, the Boy was transformed into Steve, the main character in the game.

Or so he tells me. I’m not a gamer, mostly because I have no time.

As for me, I did what I do every year, which is plan to be the Queen of England because we already have the corgi, then fail to follow through, even though I do have a tiara close at hand. You have your traditions and I have mine.

Finally, now that I’m thinking about it, future self, how about you a) buy and b) carve pumpkins in 2014. Plus, it wouldn’t be too early to start thinking about Thanksgiving.

By the time you read this, future self, it will already be too late to get that heritage turkey. Maybe you should leave a note for future-future self to plan better for 2015.

Adrienne Martini is a freelance writer, instructor at the State University College at Oneonta, mom to Maddy and Cory, wife to Scott, and author of “Sweater Quest.” Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/parentingimperfect.