I bit my lip in court several months ago. I was fighting back tears with all the strength I could find in that moment. I was standing behind a wood podium with the case worker, her supervisor and the state’s lawyer. You stood two podiums down. But you were all alone. Your jeans were baggy and your white shirt hung loose around your body.
My clothes fit that way after I have a baby too. Its this weird postpartum thing. Love it. Hate it. I never feel quite like my old self for several months after delivering a baby.
And its not just my body shape. Its all the stuff that goes along with that.
I know. I’ve had four.
Can we talk about the whole boob thing? Ugh. Ouch. Ya know? And it’s not just my appearance. I am an emotional wreck after delivery. I can’t even tell you what I’m feeling. Just tears. Lots of tears and snot and doubt. I doubt my ability to mother another human. I am exhausted and highly hormonal-downright dangerous at times.
Things are just different.
My world has just been rocked by the birth of a baby. But for me, the blows of these physical and emotional changes are softened by my newborn baby cuddling close into the nooks and crannies of my new frame. I can just glance over at his tiny face when I need the world to make sense again.
But you can’t.
Because you aren’t holding him, I am.
And I need you to know that I think about the ache your heart is pounding out. I want to scream across this outdated courtroom that I SEE YOU! I need your eyes to lock with mine so I can speak directly to your confused and scared mama heart.
But you never look my way.
You stand staring at the judge. You’re not mentally competent enough to speak for yourself-to defend your right to motherhood.
While I empathize with your horrific circumstances and relate to this myriad of emotions, I’m torn as my mind races back to the tiny boy in my home-the one you birthed four weeks ago. The one I held in the newborn nursery as I tried to memorize his little features. The one I strapped into a car seat for the first time so he could come home to our family.
He’s helpless and weak. I am his voice. I am his mama for now. I am his biggest advocate and fiercest protector. He is mine. He knows my smell and my voice and my touch. He finds all of his security in my embrace.
He is also yours.
But you don’t know him. At least not like I do. And the thought of that loss brings a flood of tears to the brim of my eyelids. They wait there as I force them to disappear with the pain of my teeth digging into my bottom lip.
I divert my eyes away from your lonely face and stare at the judge. I haven’t been listening to the words spoken in the room. It always sounds the same anyway.
The court tells you that your baby is gone.
You are a failure and you have twelve months to shape up or lose your kid.
That’s the basic way it goes down every time.
But I see you.
I know that deep down there is a longing to hold your son in your arms so you know the joy of everything being right in the world…even if its for just one moment.
Only a few feet separate us now. Our worlds are colliding and I am cheering for you. I am pleading with you to focus on your case plan and jump through the hoops being set before you.
You have to.
He needs you and you need him.
Listen to my silent shouts for your success. They may be distant and hard to hear at times…but I’m yelling for you-not at you. And I am hoping and yearning with you.
Because he was your precious gift before he was mine and while you work and wait and dream and fight, I’ll be loving him like you would.