I’ve been obsessing about what H will be for Halloween since we arrived home from the UK and I started seeing Halloween stuff appearing in stores. I’d been thinking about it vaguely before that, but it really kicked into gear once we were home. And I was feeling really competitive about it. I think I’ve just always assumed, long before I even knew we were having a baby, that I would make my children’s costumes while they’re young. But I couldn’t find any patterns that I even remotely liked, and inspiration just wasn’t coming.

So I got a little fanatical about finding The. Perfect. Store-bought. Costume.¬†Pottery Barn Kids sent me an email announcing their costumes were in; so did Old Navy. A friend from grad school, Rebecca, told me to check out Chasing Fireflies, and then the next day I had their catalog in the mail (how do kids’ catalog companies know when you’ve had kids?!). I’ve been making Adam nuts about it for days; the second he mentioned he would consider dressing up as a family, I started discussing whole family costume options nonstop. After all, this is a guy I’ve never seen in a costume of any kind in almost a decade together. It was too tempting. And too much to think about. And too overwhelming. If I couldn’t find something great to make H, I’d make something for us. If H went as a banana, Adam and I could wear ice cream-colored t-shirts and khakis, I could knit us each cherry hats, and we could be an ice cream sundae! You can see where this was going.

Adam asked me the other night who I’m competing with when I admitted that my costume hunt was getting a little out of hand. I was completely incapable of making a decision because the whole family needed to be themed (and at least partially homemade). I realized just this morning that it’s my mom I’m competing with. When we were little, she was a single working mom who handmade gorgeous and elaborate Halloween costumes for us. I remember the Sister Bear costume (of Berenstain Bears fame), the Garfield costume, all the crazy stuff she came up with using things around the house (the Mop Monster was an often-used Carney family classic). She was always so crafty and creative, and that’s who I’m competing with. I just always assumed store-bought costumes weren’t made with love in every stitch, like when your mom makes you something (and they aren’t, really). I remember being really proud to show up for the elementary school parades in these crazy getups that she’d imagined, sometimes with only days to spare if I couldn’t make up my mind that year. I thought she was amazing and perfect. It was such a great feeling to have a mom like that, and I really wanted to give that tradition to H.

But let’s face it, life is short. And my maternity leave is about to end. And there are 500 things on my mind at the moment. And, frankly, the store-bought costumes look way cooler than anything I could make right now. I didn’t want the good costumes to sell out while I futzed around making everything harder. I think H will grow up knowing her mom is crafty and feeling that homemade love in a million other ways than just her Halloween costume. Maybe this realization will even help me finally make her a quilt, rather than just obsessing about making the “perfect” one. Because, if I’m honest, for all the love I felt in those costumes I also remember taking the headpieces off halfway through trick or treating because I was hot. Or whining that something was itchy. Or forgetting important bits at home right before the parade. Nothing is “perfect,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not wonderful. So this is what I’ve ordered for H’s first Halloween costume: practical (she’ll wear all of it without fuss), funny, and adorably offbeat:

H the sushi!