I have a sewing machine and I can mend things, but that is a far cry from actually sewing.
The only time I sew is when I’m making Halloween costumes because they do not have to be perfect. Even then I lock myself in the room with my sewing machine, along with some bargain fabrics and a couple of cold ones, then hope that my kids can’t hear me swearing.
When I was growing up, we always made our own Halloween costumes. You had to be creative. It was fun, and I thought really cool, so I continued that tradition with my kids. They loved it. They’d tell me what they wanted to be and I would go to work.
Several weeks of sewing, swearing and cold ones followed — but, in the end, it would all be worth it, because they always loved their costumes and the many compliments they’d get.
But each year the costumes became more and more elaborate and detailed. And I became more and more stressed and crazy.
Until finally, one year, when there was fake fur all over the house, Velcro stuck to everything, and I had Band-Aids on every fingertip, I lost it. I begged my kids to pick something easier for me to make. Something that wasn’t so time-consuming and didn’t have so much sewing involved.
It was one of those “Be careful what you wish for” moments. Because, the following year, my daughter and her friends wanted to be a pack of ninjas. I was demoted to merely collecting black clothing. My son wanted to be a punk rocker, and other than a short trial and error process of finding the best method for making a faux Mohawk, there was nothing to it.
There was no sewing involved for either costume. There was no swearing, no stress, and I had gotten exactly what I wished for. But I wasn’t so sure I was happy about it.
It brings to mind the phrase heard so often throughout parenthood: “Kids grow up so fast.” How true that is.
And it seems the older they get, the faster the time goes. So, all you parents out there who are stressing over costumes, preparing orange and black cupcakes and planning parties, remember — before you know it, your little goblin will be one of those teenagers trick-or-treating whose idea of a costume is putting on a cowboy hat and calling it good.
Now, I was never one to be sad when my kids grew out of one stage and into the next. I have always lived in the present, embracing whatever stage they are in, and trying to enjoy every minute of it. After all, every new stage is full of different and exciting things, and that will be true throughout their lives.
Still, there are fleeting moments — like Halloween — when I look at my teenage daughter, but what I see is the little girl in her homemade costume smiling back at me and my heart swells with the memories.
The reality is, she is wearing fairy wings and a tutu. She is a teenager, after all. But hey, at least she’s still trick-or-treating!
I know that those days are dwindling, so I am cherishing them while I can — especially since her brother is not far behind.
Last year, my son announced over dinner that he was thinking of being a hobo. My husband and I simultaneously said, “No!” My son looked shocked. We had never interfered with what he wanted to be before.
He asked why, and I couldn’t help blurting out that it was lame. He looked at me, then looked at my husband, who said, “Yeah, buddy, you gotta' save that one — that’s a classic go-to for when you’re a teenager.”
I later apologized and told him that, if he wanted to be a hobo, I would help him. But he said he had changed his mind anyway and was excited about his new idea.
I was excited, too. Not just because it was much more creative, or the fact that I didn’t have to sew, but because I felt like I had just bought a little more time with my “little” boy.
Who knows? Perhaps this will be the year of the hobo. And my daughter could very well place a tiara on her head and call it good — or worse, offer to stay home and hand out candy.
But, if so, so be it. It is inevitable. An evolution we all must accept in time.
I will try not to be sad, but rather enjoy it while it lasts, and I will look forward to what happens next. Unless, of course, it involves sewing.
— By Kelly Kalis, Tribune community columnist