Halloween was always a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for me when I was trying to have children. Somehow it seemed even more depressing than having no stockings to stuff, or colored eggs to hide. Halloween always brought all of my maternal longings right up to the surface. It was a day when I repeatedly opened the door to everything that I had ever wanted, but that I just couldn’t seem to have.
Overly eager to catch a glimpse of some tiny ninjas or some petite princesses, my husband and I would stock up on candy and turn on our porch light. “What a strange couple,” our neighbors must have thought, “They must dislike children or they would have had them by now.” Hearing our dogs bark, perhaps they assumed that we preferred the company of canines. We never did have many trick-or-treaters on those Halloweens.
One particularly depressing Halloween, less than a month after a miscarriage, I remember simply grabbing the big silver bowl of candy and retreating to my dark bedroom. Crying into my Hershey’s miniatures I resigned myself to the fact that Halloween was just another club I wasn’t invited to join, along with the ‘Let’s talk about preschool club’ and the ‘Let’s meet at the playground club’. I was doomed to lead a childless existence.
The very first Halloween that I spent with my children Meazi and Melese was glorious; clear skies and crisp air, the sun shone bright that autumn day. I couldn’t believe my good luck. My daughter, four-years old at the time, donned her first Halloween outfit, a gold and black butterfly costume complete with wide wings and a beautiful flowered crown for her hair. We chose a turtle costume for my ten-month old son as it represented what we knew about him after two months as his parents; he had a hard outer shell, and a very soft inside. There I was, a mother! Drinking coffee and eating an egg sandwich, and watching my kids try on their costumes. We took a long walk in the spectacular sunlight. Later in the day we attended a Halloween party at a friend’s house. When the sun finally set we went trick-or-treating. I remember feeling incredibly happy and uncharacteristically lucky. After ten long years, I was finally watching my very own butterfly float from house to house, shouting “Trick-or-Treat!” I held my warm, sleepy, turtle in my arms.
This Halloween we will carve pumpkins with power tools and warm up some spiced cider. My eight-year old will be Athena, the Goddess of wisdom. (Last year she was Artemis the Goddess of the hunt. Did I mention she enjoys Greek Mythology?) My little turtle has turned in his shell for a furry bunny costume. We will be trick-or-treating. That big silver bowl of candy will be left outside our door. We now rely on the honor system “Take one please, and leave some for others as we are busy trick-or-treating with our very own children.”
If this hasn’t happened for you, if you have yet to be invited to the ‘parents of children who trick-or-treat club’, if you are elbow deep in the Butterfinger bag, or crying tears of longing into the sleeve of your nightgown, please hold on. It took us ten years, an entire decade, to become parents. Please don’t give up. I am sending you hope on Halloween.