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Motherhood on Trial

Motherhood on Trial

She sits at the plaintiff’s table with the eyes of the judge and jury peering on her. It is the trial of her lifetime and the stakes could not be higher. She is so fearful of the outcome. She knows she has done her best, but still feels the shame of a guilty woman. She had wanted to be a mother her whole life. She could have never anticipated that she would be here on the receiving end of the deep glares of a judgement she could have never prepared for. She had been full of joy, confidence and certainty prior to having children. She had overcome so much and knew that while being a parent would be hard, she believed she could be great.

She now sits in a guilt-fueled room being swallowed alive by the tension of her uncertainty. In this moment of her trial, she is fighting hard to find the woman she knows to be inside of her and to summon her for the strength to overcome her doubts. Even more, she needs to help others see her for who she truly is. She raises her head, avoiding the gaze of the judge. She turns to the jury of peers and searches left to right for a sympathetic face to connect with. She searched for the person who might see in her eyes how hard she has tried and how much she has sacrificed. She hopes to find the sympathetic attachment to someone who might know exactly how it feels to be sitting where she sits now.

As tears begin to swell, first in her throat and then in her eyes, she realized this jury of peers would have no grace for her.  She could see they question her every intention. She could see in their condescending stares that they had come to convict her. She watches as they leaned over to one another and whisper their disapprovals of her to each other. She sinks deeper into her doubt. Maybe they knew better than she. Maybe they had gotten it all right about her. Maybe they were meant to be mothers and she, in all her efforts, was meant to fail. She had carried the weight of her choices, every single one but she had never known the choices made her a complete failure compared to them.

How had she not known better with so much at stake? Had she ruined it all? Had she permanently damaged the people she loved the most? How could she have gotten so much, so wrong? She lifts her heads to the jury again and feels jealousy. She is jealous that they have seemed to figure it out. They seem to have it all together. How did they get on the other side of this trial? How had they figured a way forward while avoiding the dangers and pitfalls that had clearly trapped her?

The shame overwhelms her, and she loses her stability. She can no longer sit with her mind and she cry out to the judge to show her mercy. “Your honor, please set me free. I have given all I have with every loving intention.” The judge responds with a tone of certainty, “Dear Woman, only you can set yourself free. You have shown yourself no mercy and so neither will this court.” The words strike her like a strong wind, disabling her grip from the moment she had been holding so tightly to.  She had been convicted at her own hand. She had jailed her mind in the cells of doubt and comparison. She had desired to be a mother like the ones that now sit on her jury. She had trapped herself in comparison and judgement. She had feared so deeply the trial and conviction by others, that she had already destined herself to conviction. How could the very position that gave her the greatest joy have led her down this path towards fragility and insecurity? How could she teach self-love to others, but spend her days imprisoned in guilt and self-loathing?

She had long replaced her thoughts of who she was with thoughts of who she was supposed to be. The self-analysis and critique of the choices she should have made for her children became the GPS that guided her on this dark journey and landed her square at the plaintiff’s desk. She was on trial for her life, convicted by her mind in anticipation of the conviction by others. She is motherhood, the blistering journey of love, doubt and comparison. She is the greatest gift in the world and yet she is lost in disbelief of her own natural power. She is motherhood, deserving of mercy, gratitude and the world’s admiration.  She has convicted herself to a damnation that only her love for herself can free her from.

Rita GivensComment