The phrase “imposter syndrome” describes a person’s feelings of being a fraud despite that person being competent for the role being questioned. You might have experienced imposter syndrome when you were promoted in the workplace or accepted into a new organization.
What about in motherhood?
My story is one I’ve written about before; I never had the maternal yearning for children. Blessed surprises happened and now I have a toddler and infant born within two years of each other. I remember walking towards the exit desk at the hospital, my first-born strapped in her carseat, mentally pleading that they let us leave. I just knew they could see right through me and discover I had no clue what I was doing. They let us leave with big smiles and words of congratulations while I clutched the newborn reference guides against my chest.
You would think after my second I would be a bit more confident in my mothering abilities. Nope.
I walk into their daycare every single morning exuding as much confidence as I can muster. I like to pretend that I purposely put my daughter’s hair into a fashionable top knot because it’s the cool thing to do. In reality, I don’t have the patience to deal with her crying while trying to brush dried up yogurt out of it. I try to put my son’s bare arms into his carrier while I babywear him so no one notices I keep forgetting to find him a jacket that fits. Every time a call or text pops up on my phone from their school, I hold my breath in fear that something happened and I’m to blame.
I constantly feel like an imposter to anyone and everyone when it comes to my children and my mothering abilities. I know those feelings are absurd. My children are healthy, happy, and (mostly) clean. All of their needs are met, plus more. If you also suffer from imposter syndrome, you aren’t alone.
There are a few things to do when you are feeling like a fraud:
1. Take a step back and remember what you are capable of as a mother.
Sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader. I often have to remind myself of everything I do on a daily basis while still being the best mother I can be. I work full-time. I volunteer. I manage to get two small children ready each morning and to school safely with zero help. I’m a good wife. I make sure our bills are paid. I even manage to have a bit of fun every now and then.
2. Let someone else be your cheerleader.
Share your feelings with your friends, significant other, or anyone who has your best interests at heart. Sometimes we need the opinions of others to remind ourselves that we aren’t phonies. We were made for motherhood and an occasional self-doubting moment doesn’t mean you are a fake. I even share my concerns and my shortfalls as a mother with my children’s teachers on a regular basis. It helps me gauge if my feelings are normal or if I’m magnifying concerns that no one else has.
3. Fake it ’til you make it.
Obviously with motherhood, things are going to happen that you can’t plan in advance. You are going to have no clue how to handle a situation; just fake it until you figure it out. Most of our situations have involved poop. The best stories always involve poop!