On Sunday, Jude was still a little under the weather after his 3:30 am-on-Friday-vomit-attack. We read books, we rocked on the rocking chair and sang songs, we danced, we played, we put puzzles together, we ate, we ran around the house, we played some games on the iPad–and this was all before noon.
Somewhere in between all the fun, I went upstairs to take a shower. The way our house is designed, there is a cutout next to the master bathroom that enables me to look down into the family room and chat with Mike, etc. while I’m getting ready. As I was doing just that, Mike flipped on a documentary about the search for Osama Bin Laden. Having read several articles pro and against the new Kathryn Bigelow film Zero Dark Thirty, we’ve been curious about the details of the real-life story–both the ones that pre-date 9/11 and those leading up to Bin Laden’s death–and thus, I thought nothing of Mike’s choice. It was background noise from which I extracted bits of information whilst flat ironing my hair and later, attempting to coerce Jude into eating some plain pasta noodles.
The film was quite long, and by the time we all ventured into the living room to play some more, I was more focused on Jude and his attempts to ride one of his toys while simultaneously using a whisk as a telephone/scepter than I was on the movie. Jude was wild, laughing and silly, and so I pulled out my camera to capture his cuteness.
Later in the night, as I do every evening, I pulled out my camera to look at the photos of Jude I snapped throughout the day and to smile at the memories/his adorableness. And that is when I first noticed something was off in the picture I had taken earlier in the living room.
At Mike’s strong suggestion, I edited the above image to eliminate a disturbing still on the TV set right above Jude’s head. Yes, that’s correct. Right behind my sweet, beautiful, innocent, happy little boy, is an image of a bleeding corpse on TV.
It was probably nothing more than a split second on the screen, but thanks to the magic of photography, it is digitally preserved for all time. Or, at least until I start downsizing my photos for needed space.
When I noticed this little gem, Mike was upstairs putting Jude to bed. After I stopped laughing out of deep, deep shame, I texted him the photo and said:
“WHAT are we DOING to our child?! I am APPALLED.”
Now, I am not going to say that we don’t turn on the television on way too much around here, but when we do, I am careful to never put on my beloved crime dramas or any other murderous/shocking fare. Moreover, Jude and I do a ton of dancing and playing and going out for adventures. We go for walks, and we read. He has never watched an episode of anything (though he is suitably impressed by those Empire Carpet commercials). In short, please don’t judge me.
I try to be an awesome, fun mom. I try to be active and creative. I feel guilty enough about not perusing Pinterest every day for cool craft projects or for letting him empty out the contents of all the drawers in the kitchen rather than teaching him what I am doing in my dinner preparation. (Sidebar: he does know how to make coffee and prepare my hot tea, so that’s something, right? Right????) But I can also be lazy. Sometimes, I’m tired after a long day, or I am feeling unmotivated or blue or whatever, and on those days, we do have too much background TV and we do hang out in the living room a lot. I can’t help it. I want to do better, but I don’t always have the will to do it.
It’s hard not to feel guilty as a mom. I often listen to interviews with creative people who talk about the influence their parents had on their lives, and they say things like:
“My parents were progressive and open and taught me how to care about the world and to be a good citizen.”
“My mom took me on these amazing nature walks where I learned to be curious and in-tune with the world.”
“My mom was happy and easy-going, and she encouraged me to take chances and to see the world around me as one, big continuous lab experiment.”
“My mom made healthy, locally-grown/vegan/macrobiotic meals devoid of trans fats, sugars, preservatives, and other body and mind destroying substances, and that is why I am a lean, well-adjusted, highly paid, very important, fantastic person with a life that is envied by all.”
“My mom was super-duper amazing at all times and had the metabolism of a toddler and the beauty of a super-model and the temperament of a beloved family dog, and she was creative and spontaneous and care-free, and I had the best life of any human being ever.”
Okay. I’m exaggerating a little, but this is what I hear when people talk about their fantastic moms/parents, and I worry that all Jude will be able to say is:
“My mom took me to the mall a lot, but she always bought me a soft pretzel. So, there’s that.”
I know that other moms must have these thoughts. I cannot be the only one who feels like I’m doing a not-so-great-job every now and again. But, truly, there must be a special award for one who zones out to bloody, corpse-filled documentaries while her carefree and joyful toddler plays make-believe in the foreground.