Over the past year, Jamie and I have worked together almost non-stop. She's my late night wine buddy, my project planner, and my sounding board for all occasions personal and professional. Not only have I fallen in love with her, but with her family, too. I was so excited for them to be the family we showcased to launch Alexus’s portfolio; it seemed only fitting to kick off the party with one of our own!
When discussing her session, I asked her if she was planning to invite her entire immediate family. She’s married to Josh, and they have two girls, Lily Claire and Violet (most affectionately known as LC and V in my heart). But, really, Lily Claire’s dad, Gavin, is a big part of their family, too. He makes the 5-hour trip to see LC every third weekend like clockwork, but he's more than just an active participant in his daughter’s life: he’s Violet’s Uncle Gavin, he’s Josh’s friend, and he’s Jamie’s co-parent.
I encourage all my clients to exist in photographs for their family. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Before Jamie’s family session, I had never considered the importance of documenting families in their entirety. But for one really bright-eyed blonde girl, these family pictures will be immeasurably precious. It’s beautiful, physical proof of her entire unified family, working as a team to love her in the best way they can.
Below, Jamie talks about how the three of them make their close knit co-parenting relationship work and about what moved her to start investing in professional pictures for her family.
We, as mothers, give up a lot for our kids: sleep, our bodies, our time, our energy. You name it. We don't often think of ourselves.
I don't take many pictures of myself. I'm definitely not a selfie queen. My body has changed; I've gotten older. I judge myself much too harshly. It's not easy for me to get in front of the camera. However, this last year and many of its struggles and challenges have gotten me to view things in a different light.
In the last year, I have buried both of my grandmothers. As we were sitting at the bedside of my mother's mother just a few weeks ago, I took a walk down memory lane with an envelope of photographs that my mom brought up to the nursing home. Tears streamed down my face as I looked at my grandmother as a little girl, a high school student, as a mother with my own mom and her two brothers, and then as the grandma my siblings and I knew and loved... Our Geeg.
I realized after my family session that I owe it to myself and my daughters to get in front of the camera and capture these moments with them. They are so little, but they are growing up so fast. It seems only yesterday I was holding Violet in my arms as a newborn, and yet she is almost 2. Lily Claire is going to be in first grade this fall! I don't want these moments to slip away, to be forgotten.
Alisha has encouraged me to get these images of our family made into prints that we can hang on our walls and share with our family and friends. I will finally have family pictures hanging in my house!! I'm realizing these moments are just too special to leave hidden away in a file on my computer. These are meant to be viewed and to be enjoyed. I will cherish these images, and these moments, for a lifetime.
One of the other reasons I'm so proud of this session is that it includes Gavin and a true picture of our family. I am so grateful to have the relationship that I have today with Gavin. We've been through some really tough times, and I remember wondering if there was ever any hope for us to even be cordial. But it's really amazing what can happen when you choose to put your child first. She didn't ask to be put into this situation. She didn't ask to be put in the middle of two parents who can't get along. She wasn't one of the consenting adults who got herself into this. It's up to us to protect her, to love her, and to do what's best for her. Slowly, but surely, we got through the mess and got to where we are now: co-parents and friends.
I'm also so blessed to be married to a man who is secure in his place in my life as my husband. Josh respects and loves me. He respects and loves Lily Claire. He respects Gavin and his place in Lily Claire's life. I know that he understands that our willingness to co-parent in a healthy way is truly what is best for Lily Claire. His love and support has been necessary to ensuring that Gavin is an extended part of our family.
When Gavin is in town visiting with Lily Claire, he usually stays with us or at my mom's house. Josh and Gavin watch football together and usually complain in unison if I try to make them watch Grey's or The Good Wife or something along those lines. Since Josh works second shift and works different days every week, Gavin and I frequently run errands together with the girls or go to the park together. The nights that Josh is off when Gavin is visiting, Gavin watches both girls so that Josh and I get date night!
While I don't always agree with everything Gavin does (and I'm sure vice-versa), when I do have concerns that need to be addressed, I'm able to bring them to Gavin in a respectful way. I think we can all agree that honey catches more flies than vinegar. The conversation may get a little heated at times, but we are ultimately committed to listening to each other and coming together at the end to find a solution that works for all of us. We really are a team, a support system, for each other. We know we're all in this together.
I know our relationship seems strange to some people, but my hope is that more families in our situation would find a way to work together for the sake of their children. You don't have to be best friends; you don't have to go on vacation together. You don't have to babysit each other's children. But please make a commitment to do one thing to make your relationship better for your children. I promise you'll be glad you did.