I was walking Breezy (our Golden Retriever) in Idylwood Park in Redmond today. The sun was out, the lake was so calm that it looked like a giant mirror, and the reflection of the trees and clouds in the lake looked stunning. I approached a woman who was there with her three little children, lining them up on the lake shore for what would probably turn out to be a beautiful picture.
As I walked up, I asked her if she would like to be in a picture with her kids. “No, thank you” she responded with a smile. So, I kept on walking, heading back home. But almost immediately after this exchange, my mind turned to my father who passed away last year. My father was always taking pictures of the family. For the funeral, I began looking through my childhood pictures for shots of me and my father together. I could not find any. There were, of course, plenty of pictures of me and plenty of pictures of my siblings. At my father’s funeral, I was lucky that my aunt just happened to have a picture of me and my dad (shown here). Of the hundreds of family pictures that my father took in our lifetime, this is probably the one I treasure most.
I then started thinking about all of the parents that I see that take pictures of their kids, but never include themselves in these family pictures (just like the woman I had just passed). Or the ones that send Holiday greeting cards with pictures of the “family” that are in reality only a picture of their kids. If this sounds like you, think about the friends that knew you before you had children. They want to see you too, not just your progeny.
And take it from me, some time in the hopefully distant future, your kids are going to sift through your family pictures, ignoring the thousands of pictures of themselves, searching for the ones that you shared with them. They’re going to be very sad indeed to find only a handful. So if a stranger ever asks you if you want to be included in a picture with your kids, just say yes. Or if you decide to get a family portrait for the holidays, include yourself in that photo. You’re not doing this for yourselves, or even for your friends, but for the very kids that you obviously treasure so much. They’ll thank you for it.