I think it’s safe to say that Halloween is a children’s holiday. Although Christmas and Easter have Santa and the Easter Bunny, they also leave room for religious celebration and adult-related gift-giving and entertaining. Valentine’s Day celebrates romantic love and St. Patrick’s Day is an excuse to wear green and drink beer. Many of us have stories of going to Halloween parties as adults, sometimes in costume, to socialize and hang out with friends, but Halloween is mainly marketed and geared towards kids and their parents.
What happens though, when you’re not a parent?
Where does that leave you in the mix? A wild party is probably not raging on a Wednesday night, so what do you do when your doorbell rings incessantly from 6-8 pm with adorable little trick-or-treaters waiting on the other side, bags out and sing-song voices calling out for candy?
I spent seven Halloweens trying to become a mother. The first one or two weren’t so terrible as there was always hope that next year at this time, my husband and I would be bundling up our own little fleece puppy or pumpkin to take out to a few houses before bath and bed. But when that didn’t happen, a darkness that could rival the mood of any horror film set in. I stopped giving out candy for a few years and handed the task over to my husband. I would keep myself busy, finishing up the dinner dishes or getting lunches ready for work the next day.
Eventually, with a new “if you can’t beat em, join em” attitude, I got back in the game.
But it wouldn’t take long for me to be knocked back down again when my neighbour accompanied by her two sons, stood on my front porch sporting not a costume but a new accessory—a baby bump. In the years that I was trying to have one, she was on her third.
We all know that infertility is not fair and the holidays seem to accentuate this fact. Whether it’s leaving the pumpkins un-carved or skipping past the costume isles that appear right after Labour Day, Halloween is a difficult holiday for those going through infertility,
So how do we get through?
Well, for me, I opened up my box of coping tools and rummaged around until I found something that worked as suggested by infertility counsellor Dr. Alice Domar in her book “Conquering Infertility.” Some years it was watching a scary movie with my husband, binging on left-over candy after the doorbell had stopped ringing. Other years it was doing something completely unrelated to the holiday like reading a book in bed and still, others involved carving pumpkins with my nieces and nephews and helping to take them door-to-door.
Now as a mother, I find enjoyment in Halloween again. Last year was a particularly a powerful moment for me as my sons reached an age where they truly got wrapped up in carving pumpkins, picking out costumes and were old enough to enjoy some of the candy. I watched them clamber up steps and reach on their tip-toes to ring doorbells. I saw the delight in their faces each time a small piece of candy plunked down to the bottom of their plastic pumpkin containers.
As with all the holidays, it was a moment to reflect on the gratitude I feel not just for my children but for the resilience built up in the years it took to get there.
A lot of that resilience was borne out of continually reminding myself that this was just a moment, just a day. Tomorrow, the costumes would be off, the candles in the jack-o-lanterns blown out and the left-over candy put away. The kids would be back at school, their parents back at work and the world would keep going. And so would I.
By Lori Sebastianutti