In “real life,” he is a tiny, speechless, motor control-less creature just getting used to life outside the womb. But in his photostream, he’s moving adroitly from sleeping lump to baby gorilla to active participant in the human world. The real-time existence of this record is a new thing in the world.
A friend, the writer Jon Mooallem, once told me that the things that are hard about parenting are easy to talk about, while the great things about kids are nearly impossible to describe. I think that’s one reason that the lingua franca of new parents is trading miseries.
The photos we take and post, though, try to get at the other (good!) layer of the experience. That is to say, there is truth in the neverending baby photostream. The stories we tell ourselves about our children, on or off Instagram, are as real a part of becoming mothers and fathers as the diaper changes and sleep deprivation: they’re how we make meaning of this grueling, beautiful experience. Parental life does work at these dual levels, time moving both too slow and too fast.”