Family Matters
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Family Matters

To my 2020 baby: Why rainbows were the only choice for your nursery theme

How a stormy year finally let through the light

Photo by Max Di Capua on Unsplash

Four days before you were born — waddling painfully through the wet streets on the advice that ‘walking will make you feel better’- I saw the soft arc of a rainbow in the sky. It was a misty slice between clouds, the colours smudgy and not too defined. It wasn’t the perfect rainbow, but it was mine. And it was beautiful.

I had known for months that I wanted to surround you with rainbows. I’m really not the nursery decorating type (‘nursery’ sounds a bit grand for the spare room in which we’ve stored all your stuff), but many of your baby clothes and furniture are rainbow themed. Here’s why.

First and foremost, I love you. I want to grow and water you with raindrops and sunshine. I want to look up into the sky with you, and see all the colours of your future.

Before you were born, I lost another little one to miscarriage. So you are, in that sense, a Rainbow Baby. It means I was scared to lose you before you even arrived, and now you are here, I love you more than I ever dreamed possible. The wonder of a baby after such dark days is incredible, but it’s so much more than that. I know I have made a new person. You could do anything, be anyone. Rainbows are a spectrum, all different kinds of light, all of them beautiful. I will love and support you whoever you want to be.

Until you arrived, I didn’t know if you were a boy or a girl. I wanted it to be a surprise. I also didn’t want everything I received to be uniform blues or matching pinks; I wanted all the colours for you. At your baby shower, my friends tie dyed you onesies in sunset reds and oranges, supernova greens and purples,and blues and pinks swirled together. Rainbows also stand for pride in one’s identity, and loving acceptance. I can’t wait to see who you will grow up to be — from what your actual favourite colour will be to the people you choose to love — and I will never stop being proud of you.

You have been born in a turbulent and frightening year, into a turbulent and frightening world. This is my promise to you: I will always protect you. I will always try to fill you with love and light, no matter what’s going on around us. There will be some things I won’t be able to shield you from, and that’s okay, because you will learn how to take care of yourself. I want to give you all the light in the world, and teach you not to fear the storms. It is through our warmest love and deepest challenges that we find out who we are. I want to set you up for a lifetime of rainbows, and help you to be brave, strong and kind.

This year too, we have seen an unprecedented amount of fear and hate. People have fought and died simply wanting the recognition that their lives matter, and for the world to be fairer for everyone. People have faced new levels of poverty, fear and insecurity. Governments have been cowardly, and made decisions poorly. And sometimes hope isn’t enough — we need reminders to take action, even if sometimes all the action we can take is just to be kinder to one another.

You were born in 2020 — along with millions of other babies — bringing joy and celebration to a time when many simple pleasures and special life events were cancelled or locked down because of the pandemic. I want to always draw your attention to the light in the dark, the colour of hope. This year, our quarantined streets have been full of rainbows stuck up in the windows. Crayoned by children or crocheted, painted or patchworked, it has been a way for people to put their gratitude out into the world, in spite of everything, and connect through closed doors. In a world where we all felt shut in, the curved smile of a thousand rainbows has looked out.

You were born in 2020. When you were seven days old, you met your great grandmother for a walk in the park. We did this while we still could, with the approach of a second, hastily organised national lockdown that would keep us all from each other, now just days away. As four generations — you, me, my Mum and my Nan — walked through the crunchy leaves, with your Great-Nan proudly pushing your pram, we saw it. The perfect arch of a giant rainbow seeming to span the whole sky. It was perfect, and it was mine — just like you, my rainbow baby.

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Coralie Oddy-Propsting

Coralie Oddy-Propsting

Exploring art, activism, adventure and radical compassion, while finding my way as a parent and person