What's wrong, Mama?

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The baby is ten months old.
She wants to crawl but her dress catches under her knees.
She sits, unable to get away.
She is a good baby.

The child is four years old.
The family is leaving the party, but first she must hug the uncle who keeps tickling her when she tells him to stop.
She hugs him.
She is polite.

The girl is seven years old.
She hears her Aunty talking about what happened to her at the hospital when she birthed her baby.
She doesn’t ask questions.
She is respectful.

The girl is ten years old.
She and her friend film themselves skateboarding down a hill for their socials.
They choose a filter to look thinner.
She is fat.

The girl is twelve years old.
She sits in the high school exam hall, and does the grading paper that determines which classes she will be placed in.
Her scores come back.
She is dumb.

The girl is thirteen years old.
She climbs out of the pool after training.
A boy points and laughs at the tampon string that has escaped her swimmers.
She is gross.

The girl is fifteen years old.
She shaves her legs, tans her skin, selects a push up bra and puts on her party dress.
She sets her makeup out on the bathroom bench.
She is ugly.

The woman is trying to conceive.
She pees on a stick.
It reads negative, again.
She is broken.

The woman is 26 weeks pregnant.
She is concerned the movements have slowed.
“The baby is fine” sighs the nurse.
She is silly.

The woman is 38 weeks pregnant.
She is called into the OB’s office.
“Your baby is measuring big. I am scheduling an induction for tomorrow”.
She is incapable.

The woman is in labour.
The machine beeps next to her as she lies on her back.
“Still only 5cm. It’s time to prep for surgery”.
She is a failure.

The mother is two weeks postpartum.
Her baby is losing weight, and her nipples are sore from constant nursing.
“Maybe you’re just not making enough?”
She is faulty.

The mother is four months postpartum.
She is alone ten hours a day with the baby, sleep deprived and decimated.
“These are the best days of your life”, says the woman at the checkout.
She is ungrateful.

The mother is eight months postpartum.
Her husband finds her crying in shower.
“What’s wrong?” he asks.
She isn’t sure.

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