When I was in Wenatchee last week I got a preview of my grandson in his Halloween outfit and ohmygosh is it the cutest thing ever! I’d post a photo of him to charm you but his daddy and mama forbade me to take any until Halloween. You can be sure I’ll be putting up photos of him come Halloween.
I get to spend part of the day with Sullivan and his mama.
His mama is the one who came up with the idea of his costume and then created it. Tim and I are delighted to have raised up such creative children. These kids of our ours have fabulous imaginations.
But you know that old cartoon about grandparenting? The one in which the parent stands between the grandchild and the grandmomma and yells:
“This is not the woman who raised me!”
It is so very true in my case.
I am not the same woman who raised four children.
I was a freak momma.
Ask anyone who knew me then.
Overprotective doesn’t even come close to describing what kind of mother I was. Overbearing is more like it. Just shy of paranoid.
I could have been Sarah Palin’s role model.
Long before I became a reporter, I was afraid of the evils of the world. My faith in those days was defined by what I stood against. Oh, Lord, ya’ll I was a mess. (She hangs her head in shame and shakes it off, thank you Taylor Swift. Don’t forget 1989 is out! ).
My poor babes.
They would all be in therapy today had I not had the foresight to give them journals when they turned 10. “Start writing,” I said. “It’ll save you thousands in therapy later. You won’t have to waste time remembering everything. You’ll have it all written down.”
It worked, too. I ain’t a’ kidding. My children can recite nearly every wrong I ever did, verbatim. Their memories are long and vivid, especially when it comes to Halloween.
I had loved Halloween as a child. Some of my best memories were of trick-or-treating with Brother John that first year we moved to Hawaii. Hawaiians are a delight to be around on any holiday but Halloween was a particular highlight. They have such great myths in Hawaii about the Little people. The Menehunes. So you take the mythology of my southern childhood and all those haints and combine it with the mythology of the Menehunes and Lord, y’all, I could scare myself to death without ever leaving the house.
But of course we always left the house. There was candy to be gleaned, and when that ran out Hawaiians pulled money from their pockets and dropped that in our bags. Brother John and I thought we were rich when we came home with four quarters each.
When my children were growing up it was the late 80s and I was a misguided but well-intentioned mama. We didn’t have TV in our home. And we did not celebrate Halloween.
I’ll admit giving up Halloween was the hardest of all the sacrifices I made for the sake of fundamentalism. (It should be noted that this was never Tim’s idea of raising up healthy children. This was all directed by my fears to keep Satan at bay. I wrote about how I got beyond all that in the little known and highly disregarded book of essays on fear titled Where’s Your Jesus Now? which, albeit is just as strident in its liberal tone, remains Tim’s favorite book of mine. Go figure.)
I can’t recall exactly what year it was that I decided there would be no more Halloween (read Devil Worshipping) festivities in our family but Konnie reminded me this weekend that she spent most of her growing up years forbidden to trick-or-treat. One of the many ways that she grew up deprived, I reckon. And Ashley was worried about telling me that she had made Sullivan a Halloween costume because she said, “I wasn’t sure how you would feel about it.”
Oh. Lordy. Y’all. (Hanging her head in shame and shaking it again!).
My kids used to complain that I was a strict momma, to which I would often reply: I could be a crack-smoking mama and then I wouldn’t give a care what you all did.
Only I didn’t use the word care.
But that was all after I became a reporter and had wittier comebacks to their whining.
All and all the kids have turned out okay despite having a mother who was a complete and utter freak, even when it wasn’t Halloween.
Love does indeed cover the multitude of sins.
I can’t wait till Friday rolls around. I love Halloween. I always did. I can’t wait to share Halloween with the grandchildren of my future and to hear their mommas yell:
YOUR GRANNY IS NOT THE WOMAN WHO RAISED ME!
My grandchildren won’t care. They will think their mommas are over the top protective, too. They are gonna love me for the stories I tell them of haints and the Menehunes.
Karen Spears Zacharias is the author of a lot of books. If you liked this essay you might consider buying some of her books.