Orange is a bright and cheery color, an attention grabber. Psychologists say it is the color of vitality, strength, and endurance. It’s been called a mood-elevator. Orange is also the color prisoners wear in jail.
Children are attention hogs. Even before they are born, they are showing off (“Look—I made mommy’s tummy the size of a giant basketball! Ha!” or “Look—I made mommy really sick! And tired! Score!”). Once they make their official debut in the hospital, they have high-paid highly-trained doctors basically posing as their own personal servants (“Doc, could you get me another blanket? And how about some eye drops?”). Next, relatives who never used to visit suddenly appear (cameras in hand) in the recovery room to fawn all over the precious eight-pound star.
The above scenario is exactly like the color orange. Oh, sure, you have your home decorated in a soothing Ralph Lauren-inspired palette of sophisticated greys and navy. And then one day, a well-meaning friend has the audacity to say, “You know what this room needs, MOV? A punch of color. Maybe orange.”
Like a fool, you listen to her advice (“I think you’re right. I’m going to zip out to Target right now and pick up some new orange throw pillows,”) because you trust her judgment (her house looks magazine-cover immaculate), and you are well aware that orange is high-impact.
Indeed, the orange pillows look amazing. Everyone says so. But what you didn’t plan on is that the accessories have now become the focal point. Even your pal the gay UPS guy notices (“Love those tangerine pillows!”). No one appreciates the subtle charms of navy and gray anymore, for they are merely the backdrop. Like parents.
Short and Tall are our orange pillows. We weren’t 100% convinced when we got them home that they were the wisest investment for the room’s décor, but now we can’t imagine our lives without them.
Orange symbolizes vitality, strength, endurance. Yep, you sure as hell better have all three of those if you’re going to make it as a parent. Every day, I discover energy reserves I didn’t even know I had. And although I would’ve described my pre-baby days as more of a sprint (work-travel-shop-socialize), motherhood fully qualifies as an endurance-testing marathon. And we all know that sleep is for sissies.
Orange is a mood-elevator. My sons continually impact my mood (but not necessarily in a good way). I typically don’t find my mood improving when my sons are, say, wailing. I do, however, find my nerves’ perceptive ability to be dramatically enhanced. Maybe orange is really a nerve augmenter?
Finally, orange is the color our penitentiaries have selected as the utilitarian choice for prison garb. Motherhood severely limits your freedom, and can feel like a prison sometimes (I sense my mommy parole officer instantly dialing the phone to reprimand me for writing that: “That’s not nice, MOV, comparing mommyhood to jail. Take it back, and apologize to all those nice readers.”). But you know what? I won’t apologize, because I chose this prison. I’ve even become good friends with my fellow inmates (other parents); we realize we’re all in this together.
And in what other prison are you surrounded with Legos, finger-paints, goldfish crackers, and sticky hugs? In what other prison do you get to relive your own childhood, try to erase the bad parts, take the good parts, and make it all better?
Orange is my new favorite color.
(“My Orange Variations”)