The camcorder was always the working of the Devil. It coaxed and caressed you with the tapes’ capability to save your baby’s laugh forever —a beautiful present for your partner to bring out on every occasion. Yet, you never thought about how the devilish thing would affect you.
You’re forever telling your partner to “turn the damn thing off!”. How do they always manage to turn on the camera at the most inconvenient time? Like that time, you had to scream at your precious little toddler to stop bounding around the kitchen wielding a pair of scissors. Why on earth would you want that moment printed onto your Hi8 tape?
As a daughter of a mum who never asked to be filmed, I’m here to tell you that those moments are just as glorious and precious as listening to my three-year-old self’s angelic laughter. I relish watching these raw moments of Motherhood captured on camera – it is an artefact lost to the phone’s snippet filming.
The camcorder gave us a chance to observe hours of everyday memories when families forgot the camera was even there.
What you may believe to be nasty captures of your grumpy and ugly self, the rest of us remember as your loving care.
There is a video of our whole family at a local theme park. I remember it being an exhilarating day, but you insisted on holding our bags than joining us on the rides.
When watching that video again, I noticed you in the background cleaning up my brother’s Spiderman top. You were right; we should have never trusted him with that ice cream. The camera focuses on my sister and me laughing at poor little Tommy. Whilst you kneel there in the background, gently dabbing away at his slime-stained top. You kiss the top of this head and remind him to not listen to me. It was only an accident.
So what, you’re not at the forefront laughing at the joviality of your son tripping up and spilling his treat everywhere?
You were never there to mock – you were there to care, to love… and to hold our bags.
Yet, the video I really love watching is when Millie and I are prancing around the living room dressed in matching leotards and tiaras. Our bags are dumped on the floor, and you can see the scratchy ballet skirts discarded on top. Dad is cooing at us as we both fight for the attention of the camera. He prompts us to do cutesy curtseys and pirouettes.
In the darkened corner of the room is where you sit. The camera zooms into your slumped state; your thumb is rubbing the condensation on your wine glass, and you take a huge glug as Dad asks us to spin another time. Your eyes roll back as you notice the camera.
Obviously, we have not been this cutesy all day.
Millie dances into camera shot, her arms swinging without a care as she imitates a ballerina leaping across the stage. The camera catches your eyes flickering towards Millie’s hand barrelling towards the table lamp. Without a breath, your hands catch the knocked lamp, and sweep my little sister into safety.
I’ve watched that clip a thousand times and still have no idea how you managed to save her without spilling a drop of wine.
Now I know it was never your idea to document our family’s everyday life.
Dad encapsulated all the best parts of you in all of its worst ways. Your bad hair days, your quiet busyness, your slumped posture is all love without the show. Parenting is not like those bad comedy movies – and camcorder footage makes that apparently obvious. There was never a school run where you were wearing stilettos and swishing your beautiful locks whilst holding a Starbucks coffee.
But there were many days when the camera showed us how to be a good mother. And for that, I must thank Dad for never turning off the camera when you instructed him to.