Childbirth is like the Land of Oz. You leave in black and white and arrive in a world saturated with glorious Technicolour. Being a parent has made me feel more vividly than I ever imagined could be possible, colouring my days with an emotional rainbow so bright I can’t remember what it was like to live without.
My kids make me see red far more often than I am comfortable admitting. Sometimes it is because they are pushing all my buttons, other times it is because I don’t have the patience I need to deal with things calmly. I hate getting angry with them even if they have misbehaved, because the guilt which follows is terrible.
School mornings are frequently a simmering pot of anxiety we will be late because small people move at their own tempo and have a timetable that is completely unpredictable.
Thankfully for my sanity, yellow flashes through my days with delightful frequency. The spontaneous displays of love and affection, the joy when my girls develop a new skill or sleep through the night, and the fits of laughter over nothing in particular shine brightly to dilute the darker hues.
Adults can be jaded. We forget the excitement and wonder that comes from exploring and discovering something new. Green represents how I have learned to see their surroundings through the eyes of my child, and the warm happiness I feel when I see how excited they are about things I have taken for granted.
Calm, serene days when there is no arguing, bickering, or nagging, and everyone is happy in each other’s company, are an oasis. I can never predict when it will happen but find myself taking quiet pleasure in the fact that, for now anyway, everything is perfect.
When my children are sad it is as if the umbilical cord was never cut. Their experience helps me remember with clarity how much life can hurt. One of the hardest tasks I have found as a parent helping my children to develop the resilience to deal with disappointments, friendship rifts, or the simple fact that not everyone you like will like you back.
Hormones, exhaustion, and guilt can throw a shadow over my life, sucking the colour from my days and leaving me feeling bruised and vulnerable. These are the times when I question my ability to be a parent, a partner, or a valuable member society, and when I rely on my family and close friends to help me through until the spectrum begins to lighten.
Every parent - every parent - runs this spectrum of emotion - often several times a day! Just like a real rainbow it is something I am happy to witness without questioning basking in its beauty with open-mouthed wonder that something so indescribably amazing happened in my life.