breathe. be happy.

Lately, I’ve been playing a mind game with myself. It’s called “Breathe. Be happy.” When I’m running late, which is always, I remind myself to breathe and be happy. When both children are crying, I take a breath and smile at the little darlings. It’s just a game and I don’t always win, but I’ve learned the hard way that resisting and pushing against the stress just leads to more. If I pause and get my wits about me, I’m able to focus on the task at hand.

The mind game served me well when I realized I had forgotten to get my oldest son a costume this past Halloween. He was dead set on being Scooby Doo, so three days before Halloween I was scouring the shelves at Target. I found a Scooby suit, but Dillon is a 3-year-old the size of a 5-year-old, and the costume didn’t fit.

So we headed to the popular locally-owned costume shop where you can find any character you want, at a conveniently jacked up price. I quickly found a Scooby suit and removed my son’s shoes to start the process of trying it on.

“Um, ma’am, you have to use the dressing room,” said the man in charge.

“Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize.”

“There are several signs posted.”

I wasn’t trying to break the rules, so I took a breath and gathered Scooby, Dillon and Blake (who was sleeping in the stroller) and headed to the back of the store.

On the way to the dressing room, Dillon saw the rest of his friends: Shaggy, Freddie, Thomas, Percy and Diego. Suddenly, he wanted to be all of them for Halloween. I explained we had to pick one, so he conceded Diego could go back on the rack. Then I held up Shaggy and Freddie. Dillon pointed to Freddie. With the costumes narrowed down to four, I reminded myself to breathe and be happy. “This is fun,” I told myself. Or maybe I said, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” I can’t remember.

There was a line leading to the dressing room, and we could only try on two costumes at a time. Then we had to go to the back and start the process all over again. After two trips to the dressing room, we had eliminated Thomas and Percy and were still mulling over Scooby and Freddie. The problem with the new Scooby costume was that it was a little too big and it wasn’t cheap. But Freddie looked like a dork.

That’s when Dillon decided it was “no pants Wednesday” and tried to convince me to let him walk around the store in his underwear. Then Blake woke up and started to cry.

Now the store was filling up with childless adults shopping for sexy get-ups for their Halloween parties. Time for the lady with the stroller to go.

We left empty-handed. Once home, Dillon remembered his heart was still set on Scooby, even if the suit wasn't a perfect fit. So I called my husband and asked him to pick up the costume on his way home from work.

When my husband got to the store, he was greeted by the man in charge. “I’m looking for a Scooby costume. My wife was in here earlier.”

“Blonde girl? Two kids?” My husband nodded. “Yes, I remember. She was crazy patient.”

When my husband told me that, I felt like mother of the year. I’m not sure whether he put the emphasis on crazy or patient. But I’ll take it.