For as long as I can remember I’ve never felt good enough. I’ve felt like an imposter mom.
I’ve always felt like I would be “discovered” as fake. In graduate school I learned about imposter syndrome and I remember the light bulb going off. Imposter syndrome is what I’ve always felt. Imposter syndrome is defined as “a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.” My picture could appear in the dictionary next to this definition with the caption, “Imposter mom.”
When I became a mom, I was young. At only twenty-two I barely knew how to take care of myself. I remember clearly thinking, “Someone is going to figure out I have NO CLUE what I am doing.”
Feeling like an imposter mom would become crippling at times. I am not sure where the idea came from that I had to be the all-powerful, all-knowing, so confident mom ALL THE TIME. Basically, like the Genie from Aladdin, only a mom. But it was there and it was strong.
Fast forward twelve years and two more children, and I still have many moments of feeling like an imposter mom. It is so hard to say, “I handled that well.” Sometimes I can embrace these feelings. Sometimes I see the humor in it. As my circle of friends who are parents has grown, I’ve learned many of us feel this way. A recent conversation at school pick-up confirmed that even the most outwardly put together moms that I idolize feel like they are making things up at times.
Sometimes I have to laugh at how parenthood is portrayed in the media. It’s all smiles, hugs, and good morals. It’s moms who always know exactly what to do. They never falter or seem uncertain. Real life in my house is messy, loud, and unpredictable. Its fart jokes, timeouts, and skinned knees. It is far from a hallmark movie. It’s a mix of poetic and horrifying. It’s a lot of guessing and making things up as we go along.
I wish we did a better job of showing all sides of parenthood.
I think many of us would feel less like an imposter mom if we were honest about parenthood. It’s scary and vulnerable to say, “I don’t know how to do this.” But imagine if we all did it. Think of how strong how communities would be. I’m committing to being honest about what I do well and where I fall short. I’m also committing to say when I don’t feel good enough or I am worried about being discovered as a fraud. I think this could be such a powerful lesson for my kids. And being my authentic self has to be good for my soul. So, I am freeing my genie of perfection and embracing myself, just the way I am.