It’s October and I’m in my mid-30s, which can only mean one thing: my Facebook newsfeed is suddenly clogged with an astounding number of family photos taken in pumpkin patches. Some time in the last five years or so about 89% of everyone I have ever met in my life, from pre-school to prenatal yoga class, has popped out a kid or two, myself included. And this time of year it seems that 99% of all those people are strapping their babies into their car seats and heading out to the nearest pumpkin patch for an afternoon of… I’m not sure what. What goes on at the pumpkin patch? From the looks of these photos, it seems like you sit in a field and … take pictures? And then maybe pick out a pumpkin and take it home and carve it? I’ve heard that sometimes there are pony rides and petting zoos and hot apple cider, but so far I have not seen photographic evidence of this. It all sounds sort of mythical if you ask me.
I didn’t grow up in the states and didn’t have a child until last year, so my understanding of American kid culture, especially of the seasonal variety, is still a little spotty. Have pumpkin patches always been a Thing? Or has the advent of Facebook and the search for adorable photo opportunities made it so? Because, I will admit: people all dressed up in their fall attire with their babies in pumpkin patches look fucking adorable, they do. But beyond the photo opp, I don’t understand the activity. But I also don’t really understand apple-picking either and I’m know I’m a freak in that regard too. Who doesn’t get excited about picking apples?! (I don’t. You pick apples from trees? And then you take them home and eat them? So … it’s sort of like grocery shopping, only it’s just the one item you’re getting? But it’s fun because you’re outside? Why not just go to the park and then go grocery shopping on your way home?).
Here’s another thing seemingly every other mother on Facebook or anywhere else gets excited about that I just can’t muster any enthusiasm for: kids’ birthday parties. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I’m going to throw my kid birthday parties and I will do so lovingly. I’m just not particularly looking forward to it. And there will be no theme. Or, more correctly, the theme will be “You’re a year older! Happy Birthday! Now blow out your candles!” I’ll be the parent who orders a coupla pizzas, buys a cake from the nearest bakery, and tacks a Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey game on the wall. Do kids still even play that? Well, they will at my son’s parties. Maybe one year I’ll get all crazy and buy a piñata, but don’t expect me to make one.
And don’t expect me to make Halloween costumes either. I have a hard enough time deciding what to dress myself in on a random Tuesday. I’ll be ahead if I can order a costume online in time for the big day. I’ll probably forget to even do that and end up at the drugstore an hour before trick-or-treating hoping it’s not just masks of dead presidents left on the shelf.
Here’s the part where I confess that I’m worried. I’m worried that I have gone and had a baby whom I love very much, but maybe I’m going to screw up because I don’t feel like going to a pumpkin patch, I think buying a plastic Halloween costume at the drug store is perfectly acceptable, and painting my nails is my idea of a big DIY project. I probably have no business being a mom.
Tell me I’m not alone here. Even if my Facebook newsfeed would lead me to believe otherwise, surely there are other mothers out there who do the bare minimum when it comes to seasonal activities. Surely there are other non-crafty, non-pumpkin-patch-loving, theme party-hatin’ moms who will band with me in an effort to de-stigamtize our lot. Because, hey!, it’s not like we hate fall or birthdays or special occasions. I’ll crack open a pumpkin ale at Oktoberfest with the best of ’em. Just don’t ask me to bake a cake for it.