Tag Archives: Halloween

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

www.melindawentzel.comI’ve often thought that the art of raising children is a lot like carving a pumpkin. In both instances, I brought home a rotund little bundle of neediness, fumbling and stumbling over myself just to get it out of the car and safely inside. I then set it down, took a step back and stared—marveling at its inherent uniqueness and at its wealth of complexities, most of which I had yet to discover. A “Now what?” comment fell from my lips shortly thereafter as I contemplated my next move. Anxiously I paced the floor, studying this newish thing from every angle imaginable—careful not to overlook so much as a dimple or a distinctive feature upon its ruddy face. I then wrestled endlessly with self-doubt and indecision, fully and completely acknowledging the challenges that lay ahead.

At once, I also considered the endless potential this wonder of wonders possessed, pondering the remarkable role I would undoubtedly play in the days to come. I prayed for insight and wisdom, and for the ability to make its spirit glow and its face shine brighter than bright. I loved and nurtured it unconditionally, shaped and molded it tenderly yet purposefully, pouring forth every single ounce of knowledge, creativity and patience I could muster, in hopes that one day my little pumpkin would stand on my doorstep straight and tall, illuminating my world forevermore. A beacon in the night for all who would pass.

But no one ever told me there would be muck in the middle—a slippery, slimy mass of gloppage with which I have had to contend, time and again, in order to move forward. My hands don’t lie. They’ve been mired deep within this monstrous task for an eternity. And it shows. I am worn and weary, doused with sticky remnants of the chore. There have been a multitude of tricky corners to navigate with precision and grace, and unforeseen lumps and bumps to address along this winding path of growth and development. Countless hours have been spent scooping out and whittling away that which is undesirable and stubbornly rooted—the gunk which would surely detract from inner beauty.

Desperately, I have sought the counsel of others. I’ve searched long and hard for guidance—for some sort of pattern to follow so that I could avoid a minefield of mistakes and make the right impression in the end. Heaven forbid I mismanage so much as a solitary stroke of my efforts.

What I find both completely frustrating and strangely wonderful about the whole process, however, is that despite the planning and the commitment and the intensity with which I have approached it all, the end result is virtually unknown until I lay down my tools, step back from my work and light the flame within. Only then will I learn how well I’ve done my job—when my pumpkinish creation stands before me, glowing on its own amidst a sea of ink. Mere glimpses of what will be are all I have been afforded along the way. But glimpses, nonetheless.

Happy Halloween to all those makers of little jack-o’-lanterns, whose work is truly a labor of love and whose efforts are worthy of high praise—regardless of the outcome.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under In the Trenches of Parentville, Love and Other Drugs, Mushy Stuff

Nightmare on Mom Street

Sunday afternoons are my respite in this harried place. The sanity cocktail from which I draw sweet sustenance. That said, I lounge around the house doing as little as humanly possible, embracing my inner sloth. Old movies, blanket forts and naps rule the day. That is not to say that I haven’t, on occasion, become inspired enough to throw something meaty in the crock-pot, to haul my sweeper from the bowels of its dusky lair or to plant my sorry self in the laundry room for a time despite my aversion to the insufferable place. Even on a Sunday afternoon. But for the most part, ambition is nowhere to be found in my house during that glorious wedge of downtime—sandwiched deliciously between the madness that was and the madness sure to come. Last Sunday, however, was decidedly different. Havoc rained down on my world, obliterating my precious corner of calm.

Oddly enough, what led to the aforementioned began weeks ago while traipsing through a store, my cart piled high with a bunch of schlock I didn’t need. At every turn, it seemed, I stumbled into EVEN MORE SCHLOCK and felt compelled to ogle it, to finger its veneer of worthiness and to toy with the notion of adding it to my ever-growing mound of that-which-I-would-one-day-regret-purchasing. And on the days during which I allow the guilt of motherhood to consume me, the mound is markedly higher. Needless to say, it was one of those days.

Indeed, the voices that drive much of my irrational behavior relevant to Thing One and Thing Two were especially persuasive that day, whispering words of admonishment in my ear and regaling in my grand ineptitude as a parent: “You’re a HORRIBLE MOTHER…you don’t SPEND ENOUGH TIME with your children…you MUST ACQUIRE this ten-dollar nugget of wonderfulness which promises to erase weeks of botched parenting.” All the while I considered said nugget of wonderfulness (i.e. a two-pound Chocolate Cookie Halloween House Kit, complete with 47 bats, dozens of little green candies I would later damn to hell, enough gumdrops to coat eleventy-seven teeth and an expander, a defective ghost—or rather, segments of insanely sweet candy, suggestive of something that was once intact and specter-like—and a cauldron full of powdery mixes that were sure to deliver hours of goo-inspired, edible fun and to yield the most perfect hues of orange and purple icing on the planet).

In the end, I was shamed into buying the box of foolishness. Because that’s what moms do. Just like all the other project-y stuff I haul home out of sheer guilt; never mind the games and books and techno-gadgetry thought to engender this or that brand of awe in my children. It’s all about the Is-it-as-remarkable-as-a-pony factor and Will-it-expunge-from-the-record-my-screw-ups-to-date?

So I shoved the stupid thing in our pantry (good intentions and all) and forgot about it till the Halloween craze struck with a vengeance. And since the celebrated costume drama in this household was officially over, a sinful quantity of sugary treats had been stockpiled already and virtually every corner of our home had been festooned with all-that-is-Halloweenish, there was but one thing left to do—build the stupid house. So that’s what we did—the three of us, while Dad cheered exuberantly from the sidelines.

Several hours, two meltdowns (both mine) and a hellacious mess later, we had our two-pound Chocolate Cookie Halloween House. Of course, the orange and purple mixes wound up adorning everything kitchen-ish but the inside of the refrigerator, those reprehensible, little candies rolled near and far much to my chagrin, fistfuls of trimmings were consumed with wild abandon and the icing was less than compliant as I shoveled and smeared gobs of it into pastry bags and then squeezed the reluctant mass onto the house as instructed. Translation: The cussed gloppage in question delighted in its schmutziness and its droopiness, defiantly sliding down walls, windows and slanted rooftops, leaving hideous-looking blobs everywhere. Even the spider webs I made sagged to the point of looking not-so-spider-webby. But because the gods of kitchen fiascos were smiling upon me, my brood took it all in stride, “…the droopiness makes it even SPOOKIER, Mom! You’re so AWESOME!”

Well, it certainly wasn’t as grand as a pony might have been; but the awe factor of this nightmarish project was evident to at least two somebodies on the planet. And perhaps that’s all that matters in the end.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (admiring our droopified Halloween house).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "G" is for Guilt, Daily Chaos, Holiday Hokum, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

And the Monster That is Mommy Reared her Ugly Head, Just in Time for Halloween

Seems like only yesterday when my charges were perfectly content to wear costumes that reeked of adorableness. Alas, that was eons ago…

If my kids were truly cognizant of the hideous nature of my most recent crime, they’d surely sell me on eBay. “One ROTTEN MOMMY for sale!” the blurb would read. “One ROTTEN MOMMY who did a BAD, BAD thing!” And I wouldn’t blame them one bit. Indeed, I have done something horrible. Something atrocious. Something downright wicked—even by my standards.

I picked out this year’s Halloween costumes (Gasp!) without so much as my children’s input, say-so or collective blessing. Yep. I did. And I am deeply ashamed of my deplorable conduct. As I should be. Needless to say, it pains me greatly even to admit to something so heinous—much like the time I rearranged the ABC magnets on the refrigerator door without first consulting the powers that be. Naturally, there was hell to pay for that little transgression.

Remarkably however, this time my charges weren’t nearly as outraged or distraught over my rash and brazen behavior. The fact that I made an executive decision in their absence barely made a blip on the radar screen amazingly enough. In large part, I attribute this stroke of good fortune to two things: Number 1: I can be exceedingly clever (read: conniving) on occasion. Number 2: My kids are exceedingly distractible (read: gullible), on most occasions.

“Honeys, look at what Mommy brought you! A ladybug with wings and spots and boingy little antenna things…a silly-looking monkey with a banana in his pocket and a squinky little tail…and a chicken suit! Yes, yes, a funny chicken suit with fluffy featherish stuff and big, floppy feet!! I know, I know, we only need two costumes for Halloween, but Mommy couldn’t resist GIVING YOU DEAR, DEAR CHILDREN A CHOICE!”

See. That’s where the cleverness sidled in. I totally and completely diverted their attention with all the bells and whistles I employed, spewing forth (in one giant breath) each and every wonderful feature of those ridiculous costumes I could think of, precluding so much as a hint of protest. Then I threw them the infamous you’ve-got-a-choice bone for good measure. Insert fiendish laugh here.

In all honesty though, I never ever meant to steal their joy or to crush their delicate spirits (and thankfully, I didn’t). Truthfully, I have no clue as to what made me do the unthinkable. I never intended to buy those silly suits; they just sort of fell off the rack and into my cart as my inner mommy voice soothingly cooed, “Hey, smart shopper, think of the time and trouble you’ll save—I mean, everyone will save—if you just pick out a couple of costumes right now, while you’re here, free from the endless swirl of chaos and the din of despair. Your kids won’t mind. Come on, you know you want to. They’ll love you for it and besides, if you let them choose… a) it will take for-EVER (because there are zebras and mice and kangaroos and a veritable ark load of choices!), b) you will be driven insane in the process as they weave deliriously in and out of the racks aplenty, drunk with joy over the momentous event and c) they’ll whine and carry on until you let them have those stupid pink poodle outfits. Do you honestly want your children to be seen wearing something so utterly HIDEOUS for Halloween?! Have you gone completely mad, woman?! They’ll look like a couple of ninnies!”

So I tossed the blasted things into my cart, unable to silence the voices in my head. Alas, I was weak. And the monster that is Mommy reared her ugly head, just in time for Halloween. Shame on me. Of course, I felt awful after the fact and I began questioning myself. I started thinking the poodles might not have been so bad (God knows they’re OBSESSED with dogs). The kangaroo (with a pouch for candy!) had potential, too. Egads! What had I done?!

Like I said, if they could only wrap their little minds around my egregious behavior, I’d be sold to the highest bidder. Or to pretty much any bidder for that matter. Let the flogging begin.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "G" is for Guilt, Daily Chaos, Holiday Hokum, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

It’s Almost Halloween, Do You Know Where Your Ghosts and Goblins Are?

The countdown to October 31st has officially begun, or so I’ve been informed by the ghoul-worshiping creatures with whom I reside. “Only TWENTY-SEVEN DAYS till Halloween, Mom! Isn’t that ENTIRELY KEWL?!” the crew reminds me again. And again.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Halloween, Schmalloween,” I grouse to no one, thinking of how consumed my brood will be with all-that-is-grisly-and-gruesome till the night of terror and celebrated harvest of sugary treats is finally over. Indeed, I’m troubled by the hype surrounding the event, nauseated by the deluge of candy corn spilling from checkout counters near and far and burdened unmercifully by the demands that have been placed upon me to produce two of the most obscenely wonderful costumes on the planet—“…because we HAVE to be the SCARIEST, Mom. It’s a RULE. No more baby stuff. We want to make people screeeeeeam! Can you make us some costumes, Mom?!”

“MAKE you some COSTUMES?!” I muttered to myself through clenched teeth. “Surely you jest, my dear, sweet children,” I chortled while marking the calendar with big, fat letters, “BUY COSTUMES,” all the while fighting the urge to add, “BLOW THE ENTIRE DAY IN PURSUIT OF THE PERFECT HALLOWEEN APPAREL.”

Oh, the PRESSURE! Oh, the HORROR! Oh, the GUILT associated with parenting smallish beings! That’s code for: I have serious issues with time management, I like crafts but I’m not especially crafty, and I can’t sew to save myself. I much preferred the chapters in life during which my charges were oblivious to my non-Susie Homemaker allegiance. Or when they were perfectly content to be disguised as plump-ish pumpkins or whiskered kittens (read: sinfully adorable garment-age conveniently plucked from store shelves or received as gifts). My husband and I then bundled them up and wheeled them around the neighborhood in a big, red wagon—pausing only to wipe noses, to sample the loot and to shift their lumpy bodies around like sacks of potatoes. Life was so much simpler then. Complexity now rules the land. There are voices to be heard, desires to satisfy and wallets to purge.

That said, a week ago Sunday all three of those matters were sufficiently addressed as it relates to the aforementioned holiday. Three stores, two giddified children and a ridiculous chunk of time later, we had spooktacular Halloween outfits. And all was right with the world—except the process itself was unbearably tedious if not downright maddening. There were rubbery rats to pet, hideous-looking masks to ogle and 67 varieties of wigs to try on. True to my paranoid self, I obsessed, “I do not like LICE in my HOUSE! It makes me CRINGE, it makes me GROUSE! Please, oh please, don’t let there be, anything LICE-ISH there for me!”

Needless to say, nothing even remotely “lice-ish” awaited me in this Mecca of Halloween wares; however a sea of costumes, a barrage of creepy sounds and an infinite array of gotta-have-it-or-I’ll-die accessories beckoned to my brood, rendering them incapable of making a decision. Never mind that solid commitments had already been made. “But Mom, we have to look at EVERYTHING FIRST; and we have to try on capes and hats and horns and tails and….”

Again with the demands. Ugh.

My only saving grace: stumbling into a tree that insulted me. Well, it wasn’t a whole tree, actually. It was just a knot, gnarled and twisted into an unspeakably ugly face, hanging from some sort of bogus tree, poised to share its cantankerous self with those simple-minded enough to encourage such banter. I qualified. And because I find such oddities mildly intriguing, I could not walk away. So we talked. The tree and I. In the middle of Neece Paper. And I felt like a fool, yet completely compelled to continue.

In the end, that craggy hunk of Wizard of Oz-inspired surliness served as the perfect diversion for my pain and suffering (i.e. it kept me from going berserk while fulfilling my duties as the official Appraiser of Halloween Hokum).

May you be so fortunate this Halloween.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (stockpiling candy corn, leafing through the pages of Crafty Mama in hopes I’ll glean something and contemplating the completely frivolous purchase of a trash-talking tree face).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Holiday Hokum, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction