I would say in the past six or so years, social media has really blown up with Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Shutterfly. Pictures are much easier to access now. Sending a picture of your child to family members around the world is as easy as a few clicks of a button (and a filter of course). But what about the families who separated or divorced before this big technology boom? What happens to all of the baby pictures? Who gets to keep them?
This past spring break my mother-in-law asked me about the kid’s baby photos. She was going through some old photos herself and the topic just kind of came up. I froze and said, “…I don’t think we have any pictures of the kids from when they were babies. When Matt got divorced I think she might of kept them all.” I asked Matt about it and he said a similar version of what I said along with he had a few pictures on his phone that he uploaded to the computer. He gave me a little shrug as to say ‘it is what it is’ and the conversation moved on and that was that about pictures.
A few weeks later I was at my dad’s house one evening having dinner. I found a picture of us when I was a little girl. I had taken a picture of it with my phone and showed my dad. He had tears in his eyes and asked me where I got the picture from. I told him I had a tub of them in my basement at home that my mom gave to me awhile back. He told me that my mom had all of the pictures of my brothers and I after the divorce, and he didn’t have but only a few from our younger years. He got pretty choked up about it. I don’t really blame him because I couldn’t imagine what that might feel like when you want to look back at pictures of your children and you can’t. I asked him if he ever asked for any of them and he gave a look as to say, ‘I didn’t want to start a fight.’.
Two very important men in my life were without pictures of their children after their divorces. It broke my heart. Neither one of them wanted to bring up the conversation with their ex because they didn’t want to upset them. A very noble thing to do, but dad’s have feelings and emotions too. They were there and helped raise the baby too. They deserve to have baby pictures, just like the mothers deserve them. It took both of them to bring beautiful children in the world, so I think everyone should be able to look back at the photo memories of those times.
I know if Matt asked Stephanie for some baby pictures she would be more than happy to do so. I honestly in my heart know that and I know Matt knows that too. We are in a place now that I think those kind of conversations wouldn’t stir up angst or hurt. That within itself is a small victory in our co-parenting lives. *insert victory dance*
Matt’s parents were just in town and my mother-in-law handed me two heavy blue envelopes. I opened them up and in four smaller blue envelopes were over 150 pictures of the kids when they were babies. I had tears streaming down and a smile plastered across my face. There, right before my eyes, were pictures of James and Jo as tiny itty bitty babies. I came into their lives when they were 18 months and 2 years old, so we do have a good amount of toddler age pictures, but the baby ones…those were breath taking. I’ve never been able to really look at baby pictures then look at the person older and tell they are the same person. With the kid’s pictures I looked in their eyes, studied their smiles and could see exactly who they were. What an amazing gift my MIL gave us.
Pictures are pictures and memories last a lifetime, but for some of us pictures mean more than words, or even memories. Pictures are a snapshot in that moment, a moment frozen in time and saved on a glossy 4×6 card. I went through my old pictures and have a bin set aside for my dad. I know it’s not much, but seeing the joy and tears in Matt’s eyes when he saw the kid’s baby pictures…I knew it was the right thing to do.
Has this issue ever happened with other blended families? I’m curious to see how other step families or divorced parents have handled situations like this one.