I made Briar’s first Halloween costume. It was a frothy, fluttery affair born from my not so nimble fingers wielding a needle and thread. More pokes in my fingers than stitches in the fabric eventually and literally ‘painstakingly’ led to her wood nymph costume. The last costume I will ever make on my own.The myth of homemade being best goes up in a plume of good intentions when you finally see without the rose colored glasses of a mom trying to do it all perfect. The one-of-a-kind confection, sewn or baked, is proffered with such grand expectations of delight, but instead met with disappointment.

Disappointment. How is that possible?

Somehow in the time between thinking about kids to having kids, a switch was flipped and it became a life or death matter that I do it all myself. That the herbs be grown in a garden of soil tilled by my own hands, that the cards be hand made and that the magic of fairy blankets and Santa’s ding-a-ling-a-ling be upheld at all costs. I was unwavering in the face of other, more seasoned parents saying, “You know, you can just go buy her one.”

I stamped my foot and grunted like a bull in the coliseum, “I will not give in. I will not mail it in!” I was indignant that I was not going to be like the people that took the easy way, refusing to sacrifice a bit of time in the name of convenience. Briar did love her costume and the photos I have show a radiant me, triumphant in my feat.

Five years later I am changed. It isn’t that I don’t believe in homemade, quite the contrary. I still have these fantastical visions of me as the perfect mom, balancing work, family and life with ease. I can picture homespun holiday cards and DIY crafts, but the other thing I can see, and can remember from my own childhood, is yearning.

A store-bought has no fuzzy edges, costumes from Target don’t elicit questions of “What is it?” or “Who are you supposed to be?” There is belonging in having the predictable, the known and the tested. I have seen my girls cock their heads and say with a high voice, “Yes, mama, it *is* nice. I. I. I love it, I do.” It seems inconceivable at 3 and five they know to fib.

The glue stuck the pages together, the sparkles bled and the colors ran. We all flatlined emotionally was we conceded, “Well, it got done.” Not exactly crafting nirvana. I suppose I have a new fantasy of sorts, one that has my girls growing up to be comfortable in wanting what they want. Valentine’s Day is coming up, last year we made cards, not because anyone wanted to, but because I didn’t make it to the store*.

As I look back, I wouldn’t change making that costume for anything in the world, but reading that blog entry I remember the pain and suffering— mine, Sean’s and Briar’s as I made her try it on time and again. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t relaxing, but it was worth doing to know that I need to balance my dreams and the girls. In the end, it’s listening to each other that makes it perfect.

*This year we’ll be buying Princess cards for Briar, maybe Handy Manny for Ave. I couldn’t be happier because frankly, I get no mom-joy from glue. Or paint.