If we had a choice, we’d probably pick the hard life because, amid the little that we do know is the cliché that life is better when lived in colour – the whole spectrum – with all its troubles and triumphs, wisdom and vulnerabilities, wanderings and findings, softness and strength, confusion and clarity and pandemonium and peace.
Neither circumstances nor we are black or white or shades of grey. We are a deeply feeling purple in a world that could be deeply blue, pressing down on you and more often than you take notice, you’re waiting for the yellow to show and colour your life red.
What makes a woman, in the pink and prime of her health and life, consider bringing another being into the world? If colours were a marker, procreation and the journey after is a rainbow on acid – loop after loop after loop, a flare and flurry, an explosion of bright, dark, pastel, soft, solid, filling, overwhelming and ever-expanding shades – one that no expecting woman would expect or be prepared for. She is simply willing. And that might be the only thing that holds her out, as she mounts that hyper loop for all of time to come.
In a book named “Capital” by John Lanchester, a character called Rohinka better explains this colour contrast and analogy quoted in the passage below:
“As the middle of five children (she) had a pretty good idea, she thought, of what family life meant; but nothing had prepared her for the sheer quantity of emotion involved, the charge of feeling. There could be wild mood swings, tantrums, exhilaration, giggling laughter, a sense of the complete futility of all effort, a grinding realisation that every hour of the day was hard, the knowledge that you were wholly trapped by your children, and moments of the purest love, the least earthbound feeling she had ever had – and all this before nine o-clock in the morning, on a typical day. It wasn’t so much the intensity of the feelings as the sheer quantity of them for which she had been unprepared.”
Mothers and mothers to be everywhere – some who didn’t necessarily make the choice but who have no alternative but to be, others who are living in war torn territories, refugees, running to save their lives and those of their brood, putting food on the table, into mouths, forcing food into the finicky ones or fighting to feed their hungry ones, scared and stressed every moment, in what are seemingly the safest spaces, for the present and futures of those they have brought or will bring into this world.
And just how often do we acknowledge they’re brave. How quick we are to blame them for everything wrong with what came from them. How unthinkingly we can judge their annoyance, their frustration, their non-participation in the moments they’re so miserably preoccupied with their little ones who never seem to EVER become big, adult ones.
Somewhere, somehow, without them or us knowing, mothers are shaping the world we inhabit and will.
In how often we pick canned food over cooking. In the first dates we design and decide to take our potential partners on. In choosing to sulk in the corner, have an unspoken argument about or clean up the mess you made by making up. In getting it done or never getting to it at all. In noticing and reacting and reforming. In knowing when to correct and when to allow it to self-correct. In how much to show and how much to let go. In picking a flower to dress up your room or leaving it be because it belongs on that tree. In whether we choose to prolong a war or inch towards peace. In just how often we strive to be perfect but always choose to be good.
In a way, may be motherhood, is a painting on its own. To each one her own canvas, her own brush, her own colours, her own strokes. The creation: a version of her, who could be better or worse.
We’ll let Rohinka of Capital fame conclude this (because we can’t say it better):
“a guilty secret: sometimes, out walking or shopping with Fatima and Mohammed, she would look around at people who didn’t have children and think: you don’t have the faintest idea what life is about. You haven’t got a clue. Life with children is life in colour, and life without them is black and white. Even when it’s hard – when Mohammed is sitting in the supermarket trolley breaking open yoghurt cartons, and Fatima is screaming at me because I won’t let her stock up on sweets at the checkout, and I’m so tired my eyes are stinging and I’ve got my period and my back hurts from carrying the children and stacking shelves and everyone is looking at me thinking what a bad mum I am, even then, it’s better than black and white.”
It’s not bad. You’re not bad. There’s a choice you have, a choice you don’t, a choice you make, a choice you don’t.
It’s life and another one coming out and then, right at you! Splash!
And those colours are for the taking.
(We owe this piece to a cracker of a professor who encourages us to read through a volcano to mark the smaller eruptions within.)
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