"Did you get a lot of pictures on the trip?", he asked nonchalantly. No, I didn't. One measly picture and a nerve was struck by this innocent bolt of lightning. I was annoyed only at myself though, for feeling the absurd self-anointed pressure to take pictures and the guilt when I did not. In my inherently deep but clearly surface thinking, good mothers take pictures. They document their children's happiness and once again, I was a failure. I have always noticed the nice cameras and their relationship to the pings of animosity and envy that develop on my radar, particularly at sporting events or school plays. I felt like I should be comfortable in my own skin, yet was I really?
Evidently not, as I tried to make light of asking the bonafide mothers to text me their photos in a convincing lighthearted tone, but I was allowing myself to feel grief when I should have felt true thankfulness for their help. Better yet, been happy in my personal decision to not document every single event that to me seemed to border being too contrived. It was only partly rooted in that philosophy though.
It had originated more largely from our family circumstances, in which I spent much time chasing, grabbing, or picking up my extra special needs two year old who gleefully took off whenever he could and liked to throw electronic devices, especially into the water. And so, my thoughts of what kind of pictures I valued were rooted in my physical inability to actually mastermind photography and corralling Amos. That being said, I felt the old familiar tinge of inadequacy circling me as we spent a week on a Disney cruise, a Christmas present from my parents who were traveling with us.
It was all I could do truthfully just to manage just to carry my room key around and if you asked Gabrielle at the front desk how many replacement cards I groveled for, she would say 7 and that it was her pleasure. Of course it was. However, if keeping up with a plastic card was so troubling, then I had no business hauling around my iPhone or an actual camera and so, I didn't. I wasn't able to document Amos gleefully grabbing Minnie Mouse's nose or Russell's happy smile greeting Mickey the Paleontologist after we dug for pretend whale fossils (that was a little much but it made him so happy).
Still, I lamented that I had left my camera phone in my beach bag 1/2 mile away but really could not keep track of a phone/camera when I was on all fours trolling for cream colored plastic faux whale teeth in equally cream colored very hot sand. Not to mention, being in and out of a chilly ocean and keeping up with four children who headed in different directions, their matching turquoise swim shirts not even helpful.
As I was going gangbusters with the whale teeth excavation, I was struck by the mothers with perfect bodies in even more enviable bikinis, the kind that I had not worn since before I had a valid NC driver's license. They wore their camera cases as naturally as their string tops, Luis Vuitton bags, Prada sunglasses and Tori Burch flip flops. I felt like a flop in my black one shoulder bathing suit from TJ Maxx, worn thin on the sides to the point of being see through. To top it off, I had on my old blue visor from a tackle shop in Hatteras and sunglasses I had pilfered from Blair, hot pink with rhinestones on the arms, straight from CVS the day of our trip. My mediocrity felt highlighted with this peer group and yet, I was content and really happy in my choice of being an active participant.
That image is not shared to arouse guilt, I am not always so engaged but going without electronics had left me with a lot of time on my hands this week.
Why did I feel guilty? I'm not sure but by acknowledging that feeling, I hope it will encourage the feelings of inadequacy to move on out of my querulous mind and manner of thinking. I may not have many photos or have a camera with me when I wish I did, but I will remember my eight year old son announcing he was going to be a Paleontologist when he grew up and I will remember the fine grains of white sand that moved through my fingers like silk as I dug where I was directed. I smile as I think of the squeal of glee when out from the deep sand, came the coveted treasure, "It's a Velociraptor tooth!", he exclaimed. Who needs a camera?