Unlike most mothers who make the effort to compile a baby book for their firstborn and get lazier with each subsequent child, I decided to set the bar low right out of the gate. What with recovering from expelling a bowling ball out of my lady parts and pumping seemingly every waking moment of the day, I somehow forgot to herald my son’s existence in the world with themed borders and Mod-Podged pictures cut into heart shapes. By the time I was able to find enough time in the day to devote to a baby book, I was left with 15, 246 pictures that I could never choose between and very little motivation to do so. The window of opportunity had officially slammed shut. Plus, I had forgotten to document all the little “firsts” and I knew I’d more than likely be fabricating a good majority of the memories my son would relive someday.
Then, one day I was idly flipping through the Instagram gallery on my phone, when it suddenly dawned on me: Instagram is my son’s baby book. It is the lazy mother’s equivalent of weeding through those 15,000 pictures and cherry-picking the very best moments that were worthy enough to share with the masses. It is my son’s highlight reel, cropped into little shareable squares.
Even in their overly-filtered, awkwardly-cropped state (do I keep in the top of the head or the bottom of the toes?), these pictures tell the story of my son’s life in chronological order, from the tiny white dot on the ultrasound to the chubby little boy smiling from his highchair.
They show the progression from the bald scrawny chicken swimming in newborn clothes to the budding linebacker busting out of onesies made for babies 6 months older.
They highlight the big firsts—smiling, rolling over, laughing, solid foods—and the mundane, everyday stuff that I’m so glad has been saved for us to look back on someday—trips to the beach, playing blocks with daddy, fingerpainting in the kitchen.
Part of me feels like I’ve failed my son in a fundamental way—being too lazy or distracted to document his life story in any meaningful fashion—and part of me is so glad his life’s memories will be preserved forever in the all-powerful “cloud,” safe from acts of God or destructive toddlers with a penchant for ripping the pages from books.
In a sense, this little social media time capsule is a window into our lives at this exact moment in time—the places we’ve gone, the people that matter to us, the love that so many people feel for one smiling little boy with blueberries smeared in his hair. These pictures are proof positive that he has been loved by so many, even when he was still a tiny speck on the ultrasound; they are a living record of his connection to loved ones who may not still be here when he’s grown.
Maybe someday I’ll look back in regret, wishing I had done it the old school way, that I had a physical record of my love to show him when he’s old enough to be amused by his baby pictures or to place in his hands on graduation day, the way my parents did for me.
Or maybe times have changed and baby books will go the way of the rattail and the floppy disk—I can’t predict. All I can hope is that, whatever form it takes, the documentation of my son’s memories—the big milestones, the lazy Sundays at home and everything in between—will be enough to show him how loved he has always been. Even if his toes get cropped out of the picture.