Without kids, what pictures go in the album?

Daughters Day. Son’s Day. Last week, social media was loaded with photos of people celebrating their children. As if Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weren’t bad enough. I had to look away.
It’s not just hard on childless people. What about those who have kids but not of that gender? Or worse, whose children have died or whom they never see?
I understand why parents take and post lots of kid pictures. It’s the same thing that makes me focus my camera on my dog all the time. They’re cute. They’re ours. We’re proud of them. We want to show them off. We want to mark the milestones and the changes as they get older. I get it. I just can’t look at it too much before I start feeling sad.

Big yellow dog with white face seen in profile in passenger seat of a car in front of the vet's office.

Photography has changed drastically since I was young, back in the days when people picked up their photos at the pharmacy or photo store, showed them to their friends, then put them in albums, labeling each picture with names and dates.

My dental hygienist, whose life revolves around her kids, said no one does photo albums anymore. True? I hardly ever print out my photos. I stopped doing albums ages ago. My pictures are not even well-organized on my phone and my computer. No one looks at them but me.

Do people still display family photos in their houses? If I had kids and grandkids, I suppose I’d have their pictures all over the place. Instead, I have paintings, knick-knacks, wall hangings, and pictures of relatives who are no longer alive.

I do have a growing accumulation of photos of my great nieces and nephew on my computer, but that’s where they stay.

For generations, my family collected photos and put them in albums. I have inherited pictures from my parents and grandparents, most of them attached to black pages with white or gold stickers slipped over the corners. They’re falling apart. I also have my modern color photos on sticky pages. Those are fading. I have scanned some of the most precious photos to share online because that’s the only place I share pictures these days.

I don’t know where my photos will go when I die. Honestly, I don’t think anyone in my family will want them. But what a tragedy to throw them away. It’s like throwing away a life.

What to do with the photo albums and other family heirlooms is one of the sticky things about not having children. If we had children, I’ll bet we would still be preserving their photos in some way, whether in a traditional album, a Facebook memory book, or a fancy scrapbook. We’d be making virtual slide shows and videos. We’d want to save all those memories and pass them down. But without children, is there any point in doing it?

When my husband died, I mailed lots of family photos to his brother and his kids. But I still have many pictures of precious times I spent with him, including those days when I felt like kind of a mom with his children around. I’m keeping those pictures for me.

Life is so transitory these days. You take a picture, post it online, get some likes and comments, and move on. Is that just the way it is now? Should I stop living in the past? Does it matter that Facebook and Instagram are bound to disappear as technology changes?

What about you? Do the happy family photos online bother you? Do you save your photos in albums or hang them on the wall? Most of my pictures are scenery, dogs, or selfies. Without kids, what do you photograph? Do you have a photo collection? Where will it go when you’re gone?

I look forward to your comments.

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