Friday, March 27, 2009

Family Photos and Validation of Love

Where does the time go? My youngest and her mutually adoring dad...

I came across this photo today (behind another more up-t0-date photo in a frame).... and realized this was THE ONE, THE PHOTO I had written about such a long time ago.
Just thought I'd share, I'm sure many of you parents can relate.

A Moment in Time

Once again the photograph was face down, on a table in the living room. The first, and even the second time, I thought maybe it had fallen when one of the kids ran by. Now it is apparent, my youngest has done this intentionally. This particular picture was taken several years ago, when my oldest was only two. It’s is a close up of her with her dad.

Photography is a wonderful hobby, a profession for some. But once children come into your life, taking photos becomes a way for all parents to secure precious moments for a lifetime. Most people, even those with no interest in photography, feel compelled to take photos of their newborn. There is an innate need to document this momentous occasion, the day your son or daughter is born.

Parents have dozens of snapshots of their children… from the moment they were born, until the most recent end of school party. You click away, always looking for that perfectly composed picture. Or at least, to capture the moment before it is gone.

When your first child is born you take photos attempting to preserve every new expression, you never want to forget these precious moments. You develop the film immediately and diligently arrange each picture, just so, in the photo album. Many parents also manage to have up-to-date snapshots, in little photo wallets that they always carry with them. As the baby grows and other children come along, days became busier. You still manage to document special moments -birthdays, holidays- you even manage to develop the film in a timely manner, but you never seem to get the photos into the album. Instead, these photos end up in a drawer, a bin, or a box, to be arranged at a later date.

Before you know it, daily after school activities keep you running from one lesson or sport to another. Most parents still take the pictures, but at this point in life, the film often sits in a drawer, to be developed when you have the time.

My youngest daughter clearly noticed there are no newly framed photos in our house. In her young mind, she felt left out, but at three years old she could not find the appropriate words to express her feelings. She chose to solve the problem herself, by turning the picture face down on the table whenever she saw it. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

It took a few days before I realized what was happening. Once I did though, I promptly went searching through a bin of photos and found several of her. There were pictures of her alone, with her siblings, with me, with her father, and with her grandparents. I thoughtfully selected a photo of her with her dad and placed it, unframed for the time being, on the same table as the other picture.

Neither of us mentioned this new picture, but each day for a week, she quietly took the new photo of her and her dad, and placed it directly in front of the other one. It became a game that both of us were playing, without ever acknowledging it. At the end of each day I would separate the photos again. After several days of this I got around to buying a frame. For some reason that was all it took. Having a framed picture of her with her dad, prominently displayed, was enough. She hasn’t touched either picture since, she is content.

You have probably heard them over the years, the jokes, the comments from young adults, who were ‘the baby’ in their families: “I swear to God, there are no pictures of me anywhere” or “by the time I came along, my parents didn’t take pictures anymore”. This is not true, there are probably hundreds, or at least dozens, life just got a little too hectic. Organizing them in albums took a backseat to homework, baseball, soccer and dance…everyday life.

For most parents, there is at least some security in knowing there are photographs that have documented the milestones in their children’s lives. It really doesn’t matter, if these photos are organized or framed.

The day will surely come, when the house is ‘quiet’. That will be the time to sit and reminisce, mist-eyed for days gone by, as you arrange the beautiful, often funny, photos you have accumulated over the years. Remembering endearing expressions, now long gone, poignant moments captured forever…a family history in the making.

And from now on, I will always, have at least one photo of each of my children framed and displayed.. ~ August 2000

March 2009
Keeping in tune with the changing times we don't even store photos in bins anymore, nevermind an album. We have all digital photos stored online. And when I happen to think about it I copy them into my photobucket account as well... so these precious moments will always be with with us.

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