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Another Mommy Guilt Moment

I was unboxing some videos recently (yep,
still unpacking) and came to our family home movies. A specific,
silly memory sprang to mind and I sat down with the DVD player to
try and find it – a fun, private exchange between me and
Maddie. With the DVDs neatly labeled (OCD is a sickness, I know,
but it’s so darn useful) I was able to quickly find the
timeframe I was looking for, and I began to scan through the
appropriate disc, watching other clips in fast-motion.

I haven’t really stopped to look at home videos for a long
time – since before Cora was born, and Brian and I went back
to the newborn tapes to remind ourselves what we were in for. And
as I watched a short stretch of life speed by, I was astonished at
how much of Maddie’s daily life we’d captured on video
tape. I’d forgotten how, as a fourteen-month-old, she’d
stagger up to you with a book in her hand, turn it over to you, and
sit down in your lap uninvited, the request (demand) clear for a
snuggle and story; or how she used to wander around with a scarf
over her head, pretending to be invisible; and I smiled as I caught
a glimpse of the baby she used to be.

After finding the vignette I sought, I put the disc back with the
others and continued organizing our home movies. And I was startled
to see how much longer of a time-stretch each video covered: where
one hour used to encompass perhaps two months, recently they were
covering a good four or six months. Bring on the guilt.

I know that part of the reason we’ve
got less video-tape of the girls is that I often use my still
camera for video as well; it’s infinitely easier to upload to
my computer or the web, and so anything that might be blogworthy
I’ll try to capture on that. And of course, there’s the
obvious reason – our life last year and so far this has been
one of turmoil, so with joblessness, selling and buying a house,
and moving and unpacking, snatching a video camera to record every
breath has been low on our list of “to-do” things.

But the lack of video-tape of the past year is simply indicative of
a larger issue: I feel as if I’ve somehow missed out on much
of Cora’s babyhood. Stupid, I know, because I’ve been
right here taking care of her (at all hours of the $#@# night), but
I know I’ve sometimes been so busy simply surviving that I
haven’t paid enough attention to this amazing little girl.

I’m not talking about physical neglect, or a lack of love, or
anything resembling that. I simply think some of her life, her
milestones, the unique things that make her her have slid by
unremarked because I’ve been so focused on day-to-day getting
by. I’ll see Cora chatting happily away in the play kitchen,
standing and waving the little box of flour triumphantly, and
I’ll think, “That’s so cute. I must remember to
get the camera down here and get that on tape some time.” And
before I know it, Cora will outgrow this phase and move on, and
that moment in time – that snapshot of her spending so many
mornings in the footie pajamas, sitting in the puddle of sunshine
slanting through the windows, grinning her two-tooth grin –
will be gone.

Of course, I worry that Cora will grow up and, as many kids are
wont to do, start mining the past for clues as to which daughter is
loved more by her parents. And that she’ll come across the
disparity of documentation of the separate babyhoods, and run
shrieking into my room saying, “Aha! You NEVER videotaped me
as a baby! That PROVES you love Maddie more!” And for that I
will say, “Hey! Read my blog, kid – I’ve been
worrying about this day for fifteen years, so that has to count for

But most of all, I worry that I’ll forget all those Cora bits
that are so fleeting. She’s taking two and three steps
without holding on now, and will soon be walking all by herself,
and I barely have any footage of her staggering around the
coffeetable doing that adorable baby side-step. She’s
sleeping better at night, adjusting better to crowds of people, and
diving fearlessly into almost any game I can come up with, and I
sense she’s going to go through one of those overnight shifts
when you look at your kid and say to yourself, Huh! Where did YOU
come from? So much of her babyhood has been me simply trying to get
by – keep my head down and survive the sleeplessness, the
uncertainty, the poverty, the stress – and I haven’t
had the time, the luxury of watching this jewel start to shine.

I love this little girl, and I know I don’t need mounds of
video tape to prove it. I want the tapes to see what I missed the
first time around – the moments I didn’t or
couldn’t stop and appreciate.


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