"Turn it off!" I pleaded. My husband is converting all our old home videos to DVD and frequently has one playing in the private office we share at our business. Watching my thin, tan, young self at the beach was hard enough but the evidence of my awful mothering was too much.
There I am on Mission Beach in San Diego where our family has spent a good portion of every summer from the beginning. My husband is the videographer and the rest of us are in staring roles. I hadn't realized until I saw this tape again that my character was "Mommy Dearest."
As we carted our junk to the water, 98% of my focus was on my baby girl, only 10 months old. She was like a doll; a new toy. In the background was my four-year-old son. He was adorable in his goofy hat and baggy swim suit, carrying his own giant load of sand toys. But I hardly noticed him. I was cooing and laughing and coaxing the "baby" to do something cute for the camera.
SMACKDOWN FROM THE PAST
Looking at it now I see what a little guy my son was then. (He was always a head taller than otherkids his age but still, he was FOUR!) However at the time he seemed so grownup; like a teenager and capable of so much more than this other tiny child. (This is a hazard all parents face with a second child...even when she's 40 she'll still be the "baby" and he'll be the "big brother.")
He was trying to be patient but just wanted a bit of attention and I threw him a few half-hearted offerings. I uttered some "uh huhs" and some "good jobs!" but no focused attention.
Guilt, shame and regret washed over me like a cold wave in the Pacific. How could I have been so blind? Was this little visual snippet a true representation of my mother-son experience?
THE TRUTH IS SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE
So I asked him. I explained my reaction to this bit of family memorabilia and confessed my need for forgiveness.
"I don't remember it like that," he told me. "You guys were always there and always involved in everything we did. If anything, I feel guilty because we demanded so much of your attention. You weren't able to focus on anything in life outside of our little world for all those years."
Huh! How 'bout that? He thinks he required too much from me and I think I gave him too little. Glad we had that talk. Now we both need to accept that we did our best and things turned out as they should.
(I'm still not too excited about watching my early mothering efforts in HD!)Do you have any parent/child or child/parent regrets? Comment here.