It's Halloween Eve. The anticipation has been building all week. We have engaged in Halloween related activities and projects all week long. It's almost here!
I promise, we are not really big Halloween junkies. Babe-O has had an interest in things that are a bit scary this year, like the idea of ghosts and haunted houses, spiders and bats, and ghouls (we call them dirty guys). And more than the tricks or treats, I really enjoy the feeling of Magic that can accompany Halloween. The magic of being anyone or anything that you want to be. The magic of autumn nights where the leaves crunch under your feet, toasty popcorn and warm apple cider fill your belly, the stars burn brighter in the clear night sky and bonfires spark and warm chilly noses in the cold air that will carry in Winter. As the leaves fall and the nights get longer, it seems like a time to celebrate the magic of growing older. Because we are all doing it and because that sweet and sour anguish of watching my kids get older lives in my bones and will always haunt my heart as I try my hardest to hold onto the little moments, knowing I will have to let go.
Today Babe-O and I had a scare. Different kinds, in different ways. For me, it was the kind of scare that reinforced the impossibility of keeping my children protected from fear or unpleasant experiences whether they be scary or painful.
We had a friend over and dressed up in our costumes for a day out at a Glow in The Dark Inflatable Playground. The kind where your kids get to jump up and down until they are ravenous and so very tired, yet totally pumped full of adrenaline. You know, kinda how it feels after a really hard workout (the kind that make you feel like you might pass out but you don't). It's fun (once in a while).
And it was a special event for Halloween. Jump around in your costumes! Glowing, bouncing, Halloween fun! Perfect!
Babe-O quickly got used to the Glow in the Dark area, after being very cautious at first. He and his friend were having a great time chasing each other around an enclosed obstacle course. Babe-ala and I watched from behind the net enclosure, cheering Babe-O on as he bounced by. Suddenly and undetected by myself, an older child in a scary wolf mask entered the dark glowing bouncy house. Babe-O turned around only to be head-on with a wolf. The scream was piercing as he tried to escape the enclosure only getting trapped in the net. I yelled for the older child to take off his mask, which only took a moment and Babe-O recovered with the comfort of his friend and myself.
It's hard to describe a Mom's (or Dad's) reaction in the instant when her child is faced with something terrifying, something so scary you know that in some way, measurable or immeasurable, it will change them. There are all different kinds of scary and all different ways of being changed. But in the instant the incident occurs you can at once empathize so deeply as to be equally and indelibly imprinted as your child and simultaneously realize that although you are now more present for your child than you may ever mundanely be you are absolutely and utterly unable to protect them from the impact.
The spectrum of scary is so broad: from childhood illness, disease, tragedies (which we also live with on a daily basis you can read about Deo here) to the frights of Halloween, fear of the dark, loud flushing toilets. The effect may have it's definite course or be unknown and as a Mom it can be hard to decipher which is scarier.
As a Mom, the scariest thing is to embrace my own fears about my children growing up - to really let myself feel the fear, pain, even regret of not having seen the Wolf coming. Accepting that while they are young I can do what "feels" like sustaining their lives every day and still not see the Wolf coming. Realizing that sometimes I may see the Wolf coming and have to let my children encounter it on their own and knowing that even if they turn to me in times of fear there will be increasingly less and less I will be able to do.
We will have different scares, in different ways. If I practice living with and love through my fears, which I believe is the magic of fully, deeply living I may have the privilege to be there to hold the space where their fear lives without letting mine get in the way.
It comforts me to know, on this Halloween Eve, that my children may know the feeling of being loved that is both connected to fear and more powerful than it.
How's that for existential Halloween fodder?
Just to let you know:
As he was leaving the Glowing, Bouncing Halloween Party that nearly made him pee his pants, he had a conversation with the manager (totally unprovoked by me- i swear.) In which he informed him that he had run into a wolf in the bouncy house. He reassured him that. "the wolf was really a boy, so thank goodness for that". He continued by questioning the manager, "did you see the wolf come in? " And then castigating him, " You should not let wolves come in here. Next time no masks in the bouncy houses!" (Unannounced to Babe-O, I had already had this conversation with the manager).
Deep breath. He'll be okay this time.