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Mirrors: On Mothering Untamed

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For a long while I pretended not to know that even though I had only one life, I was spending it inside a lonely marriage. When the Knowing threatened to rise, I’d shove it back down. There was no point in admitting I knew what I knew, because I would never do what the Knowing would require me to do. I would never leave my children’s father. I’d just pretend not to know forever. I was a mother, and I had responsibilities.


In middle school we learned about parenting by caring for an egg. In order to pass the unit, we had to return the uncracked egg to the teacher at the end of the week. Those who left their egg home in the dark all week fared best; some of their eggs went rotten, but that didn’t matter as long as they remained uncracked.

I parented Tish like she was an egg. I’d say, “She is so sensitive, so fragile.” I worried about her and counted that as love. I protected her and counted that as mothering. I’d have kept her at home in the dark forever if I could have. She and I were living in a story I had written, and I was the hero. I would never let her crack, and I would pass parenting.

I am drinking coffee on Tish’s bed, watching her get ready for school. She is brushing her yards of Rapunzel hair. I watch her look at herself in the mirror and then back at me. She says, “My hair is too babyish. Can I cut it like yours?” I look at the two of us in that mirror. Right there in front of me, I can finally see that Tish is not an egg. She is a girl, be- coming a woman.

Every time she looks at me, she is seeing herself, too. And she is asking:

Mom, how does a woman wear her hair?

Mom, how does a woman love and be loved?

Mom, how does a woman live?

Tish asks, “Will you put my hair up in a pony, Mom?”

I walk into the bathroom, find a ponytail holder, come back, and stand behind her. I have pulled her hair up a thousand times, but all of a sudden, she’s too tall. I can’t even see the top of her head. She has grown at least an inch overnight. When she was a baby, every day felt like a year. Now every morning, another inch.

I look at Tish and I think:

I am staying in this marriage for my little girl. But would I want this marriage for my little girl?


Mirrors is an excerpt from UNTAMED, Glennon Doyle's newest #1 New York Times Bestselling memoir, and a Reese's Book Club selection.

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