October 31


Relax already

By Jessica Allen

October 31, 2022

I was a total party pooper to my 11-year-old son yesterday. He said, intentionally, thoughtfully, and a little sadly: I wish we were carving pumpkins this year.⁣⁣

And before he even finished his sentence I replied: UGH I DON’T WANNA CARVE PUMPKINS IT’S SO MUCH WORK AND IT’S SUCH A MESS. ⁣⁣

As those pitiful words tumbled out of my mouth I realized what I was doing and watched my son’s heart sink. I quickly tried to recover and force-cheerfully chirped: but buddy let’s do it! If it’s important to you it’s important to me! He smiled and brushed it off: nah, it’s ok.⁣⁣


10 minutes later I was pushing a cart through the grocery to grab 4 of the most gorgeous fat round pumpkins I could find. Guilt is a real powerful motivator. But because it is 5 seconds before Halloween, the only pumpkins left were the warty (and now moldy) ones, and the tiny pie pumpkins that are near-impossible to carve. Party poopers can’t be choosers though so I collected 4 tiny mostly-round pie pumpkins thinking the kids could paint them.⁣⁣

My son literally skipped through the kitchen after finding them in the grocery bag, and planned, sketched, and – with careful supervision – carved his tiny pumpkin. (Which ironically mirrors how I felt about the whole project in the first place.) All my kids joined the fun with paint, sharpies, props, ideas to share, and help for each other. ⁣⁣

It was, as I feared, a lot of work and a total mess. But. For the cost of $10, a few Clorox wipes, and one giant ego, we had a half hour of fun that filled their little buckets and made me a hero (not the point). ⁣⁣

What is the point? I don’t know… I was a butthead, and I didn’t have to be. My one off-handed comment crushed my son. It made me wonder how often I do that to my husband, my children, my extended family, or my friends. How many casual words do I toss out that are no big deal to me but deflate the people I love? How many times do they say “nah, it’s okay” just to save face?⁣⁣

Mostly, I feel convicted because I almost missed an opportunity to let my kid just be a kid. And even more than that, I almost missed an opportunity to honor a moment of vulnerability and honesty my kid offered up to his mom. He has his whole life and the whole world to teach him how to be tough. I get the blink of an eye to teach him how to know himself.

Let today be an opportunity for careful responses, thoughtful engagement, meaningful connection, and plenty of hot coffee. And may you mom-tax claim all your favorite candy first. ⁣⁣

HP, J ❤️👻🎃🤢

Jessica Allen

About the author

Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have four children: LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and Elisha.

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