I Feel Like a Momposter

Earlier this year I was tasked with writing a blog post at work about my struggles with imposter syndrome, which is this inability to internalize your successes coupled with a constant fear of being exposed as a "fraud."

This is something I’ve struggled with my entire career. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I understood that this feeling had a name when a therapist revealed it to me.

I’ve silently carried this weight for a long time, fearing, in true imposter syndrome fashion of course, that I would be exposed for these feelings of inadequacy. So as you can imagine, it was terrifying when my colleagues asked me to admit all my insecurities to the world by blogging about them.

After waffling back and forth on it for weeks and inching right up to my deadline, I decided to be brave and dove in head first. It was the hardest professional blog post I have ever written. Then as I loaded my soul-bearing blog post on to the website that cold February morning, I had a revelation that completely stopped me in my tracks.

I don’t just have imposter syndrome in my career. I am stumbling through motherhood with this same damn syndrome.

No wonder I constantly second guess my decisions, shirk any claim of responsibility from praise for a parenting-job well done, and often feel unable to acknowledge that I might actually be good at this parenting thing.

The funny thing is, I might actually be a fairly good mom, but I’ve never been able to say those words out loud. How many times have I credited nature for my kid’s kindness? Or gave credit to some pinterest parenting tip for an idea that I executed and pulled off the hard work on? Why is it so hard for me to believe, let alone ever say out loud, that I am a good mom?

Speaking of nature vs. nurture, I do wonder how I became so insecure in the first place. I question whether this whole thing stems from never having had a good parenting model growing up, making me constantly question what a good mom looks like. Or was it more from the family of origin that didn’t think very highly of me (and wasn’t afraid to say so) that caused my wide-spread self-doubt to settle in? Then again, maybe it’s just how I’m built. Who knows. We can sit here and psychoanalyze the root of my imposter syndrome until we’re blue in the face. But regardless of the root cause, the reality is this: chances are I am actually doing a pretty good job - and I would guess you are too, mama.

So how can I start accepting that? Well, they say the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

Hi, my name is Brooke and I have momposter syndrome. (Hi, Brooke)

And here’s what I’m doing to remind myself that I merely have momposter syndrome, not that I am actually a momposter:

  1. Surround myself with people who will cheer me on.
    This whole momming thing is hard, amiright? So rather than joining in on those absurd mommy wars, I’m going to stick with my mom tribe full of amazing women who stand behind me, building me up. And I’ll do my best to try to start believing them when they tell me I’ve gotten it right with my latest parenting hack.

  2. Get comfortable with mistakes
    Hey, we’re all, even the best of us, going to misstep along the way and for the most part, our kids are going to turn out just fine despite that. Not only do those mistakes not get to define us, but they are actually how we learn. And believe me when I say that that means I’ve learned a LOT in the past four and a half years!

  3. Honor my intuition – and be willing to accept credit for my successes
    I have often let the fact that I didn’t have a good parenting model growing up make me feel inadequate as a parent now myself. Plus, there were never any “How to be a great mom” classes to take (I would have taken them). And these kids? They certainly didn’t come with instruction manuals (I would have read them).

    But somehow, we’re figuring it out though, aren’t we? It seems that this mother’s intuition thing is pretty powerful, and when coupled with all those mistakes and lessons learned we talked about, it all sort of comes together somehow. And it’s pretty hard to argue with that when we see these tiny humans growing into incredible human beings. That didn’t happen by accident.

  4. Seek assistance from those whose strengths complement mine
    I can’t possibly know everything there is to know about raising a kid. And it turns out, that’s ok. When I think about it, I realize that I have an early childhood educator, an occupational therapist, and a child life specialist (along with about a billion other skills and sets of expertise) among my mom tribe. So when the time comes to teach these kids to write their names, overcome sensory issues, or have the inevitable, yet dreaded, conversation about death someday, I know exactly who to call. I don’t have to know it all - that’s what I have you girls for!

  5. Recognize that I’m in good company
    It turns out, apparently none of us know what the heck we’re doing. That doesn’t necessarily make me feel any better about my own limitations as a parent, but there is at least some comfort in knowing that we’re all in this together. Now, how ‘bout a group hug?!

Much like at work, I admit that recognizing this feeling in motherhood and saying it “out loud” is a bit freeing in and of itself. But it doesn’t end there. Hard as it was to admit all of this, now the real hard work of actually accepting it and learning to overcome it begins.