I’m Watching My Daughter’s Confidence Slowly Crumble

At 10 years old, she spends a lot of time frowning into mirrors

Kerala Taylor

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Photo via Canva.

My daughter has always done things her own way.

She first defied me when she was 36 weeks in the womb. I was sitting on our balcony, and all of a sudden I felt something large and round lodged under my ribcage. It felt like a head — which is exactly what it turned out to be.

I tried in vain to turn her back around. I let an acupuncturist burn my toes. I suffered through an external version, which was painful and violent and accomplished nothing. I saw a chiropractor. I took hot baths with frozen peas on my belly. I strategically placed my iPhone speaker between my legs and tried to lure my daughter’s head downward. I played my whole damn music library to my vagina. But she insisted on staying put.

A surgeon ultimately had to slit me open to scoop her out. I was in a sterile, white-blue room, miles away from the midwives and jacuzzis where I’d planned my natural birth. But as I cradled my daughter for the first time, I forgave her for her transgressions. She looked exactly like the gentle, tender baby girl I knew I’d have.

Then she opened her eyes.

They’re like two black suns staring straight into your soul. That’s how my then-12-year-old stepson described them. Quite poetic for a 12-year-old, but there was really no other way to put it. Her eyes possessed no distinction between pupil and iris, just burning, bottomless black that expressed an intensity of emotion I didn’t know a five-minute-old human being could muster.

Her eyes said: Let’s do this.

Since her 36th week in the womb, my daughter has operated on her own terms. She breastfed on her schedule (sometimes multiple times an hour), she slept on her schedule (bedtime at 10 p.m. and no naps if she could help it), and she squawked whenever she disagreed with my way of doing things (which was pretty much always).

At the mom/baby playgroup, while all the other babies sat on their mothers’ laps and ate hummus, she was on all fours, making her escape.

At the playground, as other toddlers squealed on the swings, she was at the perimeter trying to figure…

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Kerala Taylor

Award-winning writer. Interrupting notions of what it means to be a mother, woman, worker, and wife. Subscribe: https://keralataylor.substack.com