I have many photos from the Halloweens of my childhood, dressed in the costumes my momma sewed for us. I remember going to the fabric store in our small town, choosing a pattern, and getting the supplies for our costumes. Some years, my poor mother sewed into the wee hours to finish our costumes on time, but I don’t ever recall having a store-bought costume.
There’s nothing wrong with costumes purchased ready to go. It just somehow became a tradition in our family for my mom to build something spectacular just under the wire. Halloween was really the only time she sewed, sometimes getting my dad to help, and it always felt like a really big act of love to me as a kid.
Since The Electrician and I started talking about having a family, I looked forward to sewing Halloween costumes for our children. The last month or so, I have been so excited to dress up our girlies in costumes I sewed myself and go out on Halloween for the first time as a family.
In the tradition of my momma somehow fitting costume sewing into her busy schedule, I was still basting sleeves into Alfalfa’s costume during yesterday’s school assembly. Moms of multiples do pretty much everything at the last minute. It’s often all we have.
I also went back to teaching full-time on October 15, so things have been a blur.
The Electrician felt that our girls should be exposed to strong role models, women in particular, that demonstrate the qualities we value in our family. It was his idea for all four of us to dress as a character who is steadfast, loyal, courageous, and determined as hell.
So I made four Princess Leia costumes. Again, his idea. He’s an awesome father.
There we were, four people wearing long white robes, metallic belts, and cinnamon bun hairstyles. Mine were my actual hair; The Electrician ordered a wig. Alfalfa and Broccoli have hilarious Leia toques from Baby Gap that have knitted buns stitched right on.
It was warm enough that we could stick with my original plan: putting the girls’ costumes, which I sewed from sweatshirt fleece, over their footed jammies. They were cosy, reasonably happy if a little confused, and ridiculously cute.
We stopped briefly at our day home so their caregiver could see us on our Leia parade. The next stop was my dear auntie who lives across the city. She has no kids of her own but loves children, and we felt strongly about taking our girls over to surprise her in their costumes.
On the trip over to Auntie’s, both babies fell asleep. It was such a joyful moment for me, all of us dressed in the costumes I created, celebrating with the family we feel so very blessed to love. The girls snored gently as we pulled up on my Auntie’s street.
I was bringing Alfalfa around from her side of the vehicle when The Electrician opened the door on Broccoli’s side of the SUV. I heard him moan, “Oh no. Oh. No.”
Picture the scene: it’s 7:40 and change on Halloween.
One adult Princess Leia holds a baby Princess Leia who is strapped into her car seat. The smaller adult Leia is frozen in horror. While the nearest trick-or-treaters watch, a six foot tall-ish Princess Leia (with a full beard) swings a second baby Leia in a second car seat out over the grass on the boulevard.
As everything happens in slow motion, a purple arc of vomit patters onto the crisp, dry fall grass. The child in distress takes after her own mother, who can projectile puke far beyond the length of her body.
A second wave of gross follows. A third. Some vomit makes it to the ground. Most of it soaks the poor Princess Leia in her carseat. Her little white gown is not white any more, and may never be again. The carnage continues.
The smaller adult Leia swears, creatively.
The first baby bursts into tears.
On the soft bite of the October breeze, two smells. The waft of wood smoke and the punch of partially-digested blueberry yogurt.
Thankfully, both The Electrician and I are well past the rookie stage of this twins business, and start problem solving at the first significant pause in the barfing. He leans back into the SUV, says nothing, and circles to the hatch at the back. As poor Broccoli starts gagging yet again, he asks, “Did you grab the diaper bag?”
My poor Auntie, who was so pleased to see us on her doorstep, soon had four Princesses Leia in her kitchen, attempting to deal with the remarkable volume of vomit. There was no diaper bag.
The only Halloween photo I managed to take was of a bewildered Broccoli, still in her cinnamon bun toque, absolutely swimming in ick. I’m not publishing the picture, since the internet is forever, but the friends and family we shared it with felt suitably horrified.
We were saved by a number of factors. By some miracle of Samhain, the day home duffle bag was still in the vehicle; it had no diapers but there was one fresh change of clothes. We also found a clean towel, which had been apparently hitching rides around town with me since it kept a potluck dish warm last weekend. It smelled like roasted root veggies, but that was a serious step up from the aroma coming off our baby.
I stripped and sponge bathed poor Broccoli in Auntie’s kitchen sink. Immersion was not possible since I had no fresh diaper.
The Electrician tried to clean up the befouled carseat as much as possible with prayer and paper towel. Thankfully, he has a stronger stomach than I do; I was gagging just trying to clean up our daughter. Auntie offered some very worn face cloths and a hand towel that were sacrificed to the cause.
During all this, little Alfalfa alternated between crawling around screaming or wailing in one place. She was still in costume. Trick-or-treaters rang the doorbell regularly.
At last, we sat in the living room, me on the floor with my girls, trying to catch our breath and muster the courage to drive the 25 minutes home. Auntie commented that Broccoli did indeed look pretty green.
And Broccoli began throwing up again, ruining the mis-matched clothes she’d worn all of six minutes. In our nine months of parenthood, The Electrician and I have unintentionally developed a tone of voice when calling for paper towels that means time is critical. I think Auntie heard it for the first, second, and third times last night.
When we finally left, we toted one over-tired and crying Princess Leia in her car seat, and our second daughter tucked into her seat as snuggly as we could under a towel that smelled of roasted yams, parsnip, and garlic.
If I can get the stains out of Broccoli’s white robe, we may try for a family Leia photo when we have two healthy babies again. For now, our first Halloween will be absolutely memorable, as much as we’d love to forget it.