In preparation for the baby’s first birthday party, I’m trying to get some pictures up on the hallway wall. You know, that gallery space that I’ve been avoiding for about 18 months.

Why? Because of equality.

I’m a photographer. Because of that, the two middles were heavily photographed when they were younger. I mean, like, formal portraits at least once a month, and candids weekly. I have boxes and boxes of prints from each of their first five years, and in my old house, my entire wall gallery was devoted to these two. I also used them both for studio samples, so I have several ginormous (really, like 30×40) canvas wall portraits of each of them. And where are all of these pictures now? In the hall closet, in archival boxes or high up on a shelf to avoid water damage in case of a broken pipe. (Yes, I’m that kind of planner).

The biggles were not as well photographed. I’m not just referring to quality. They’re not all “just” snapshots . I’m referring to quantity. And to the way those photographs were preserved. Most of the pictures we have were treated pretty poorly… shoved into drawers or on to shelves, bent, water damaged from spills. They have not been as lovingly preserved, and next to the middles pictures, they look pretty forlorn.

photo by thebrowser.com

So I have avoided the issue.

The living room gallery space is a good example of why. I knew that I had to have an equal number of photos of each kid, and made myself sick stressing out over which ones to choose. I knew that if I put them up, that someone would complain about being underrepresented. And sure enough, one of the biggles came in before I was finished hanging them and left the room in tears, because “her family” was not as represented. I took all new photographs for that wall and printed them all in black and white, to be as fair and balanced as possible. Once it was done, the tears were over. But it really drove home that I wasn’t just worried about a “what if.”

So now I’m pouring over our collected photographic history, trying again for equality. Trying to avoid bad feelings. Trying not to do anything that will strain anyone’s relationships. Trying to figure out how to display some of my cherished treasures from the middles and the baby’s babyhood without it being obvious that we don’t have much from the biggles.Trying to remember what is truly important here and trying not to fall into frustration.

I know that I’m not the only parent from a blended family that has faced this. How have you dealt with these issues of inequality in your homes?

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