Imposter Syndrome for Moms


Today I yelled at my daughter for not eating her cereal fast enough. Then we couldn’t find matching socks. Then we couldn’t find a hair tie. Then I remembered that none of us had brushed our teeth. I am not good at this. Soon everyone will discover that I am not good at this. I’m an imposter.

Recognize this scenario or some version of it? Have you worried that everyone will find out you’re a fraud? That you have no bleeping idea what you’re doing? Me too. All the time. I just discovered that what we have is actually a syndrome. With a name. Imposter Syndrome. I’m not sure whether this makes me feel better or worse. Whatever. At least we’re not alone.

Turns out, we’re in this charade together. You and me. There are so many of us (even famous people) that they gave it a name all the way back in 1978. My two-year-old self was blissfully unaware that someday I’d be collapsing under the weight of this newly-coined diagnosis. 

Woman holding up a smiling face over her own faceWe impose high standards on ourselves because we know that it matters. This parenting that we’re engaged in is super duper important. We’re raising tiny humans. We don’t want to mess it up. The repercussions are significant. And, gah! The myriad ways we can screw up is daunting.

I read one article that said as time goes by and we log the months and years under our belts, this feeling of fraudulence will dissipate, but, with all due respect, that is not what I’m experiencing. How ’bout you? Feeling like a pro yet? Actually, if you are, don’t mention it. I’m getting enough pressure already from Facebook and Pinterest

I’ve been at it now for ten-plus years, and the story is still the same; it’s just the details that have changed. Ten years ago, I was feeling fraudulent about my baby bathing skills, today I’m sure that soon everyone will discover that I shouldn’t be in charge of anything on the PTA. Because, really, I can’t seem to schedule a single thing without first messing it up about seven times! Pretty soon, everyone will know. 

Also, I can’t help my 5th grader with her math. It’s tricky! I have to watch videos on Kahn Academy. (Which, if you haven’t discovered yet, do it soon!) First grade spelling, though? Nailing it! 

Here’s how to overcome Imposter Syndrome:*

  1. Let go of perfectionism.
  2. Fake it ’til you make it.
  3. Own your successes, and accept praise.
  4. Practice gratitude.
  5. Talk about it. Because you are not alone. 

*While these are good strategies that will help, I suck at them. You might too. That doesn’t make you a fraud. It makes you human. It’s good to have goals, though, so keep this list in mind. 

Since I’ve already dated myself, I’ll go ahead and leave you with the immortal words of Stuart Smalley of 1990’s Saturday Night Live fame, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” Go ahead, look in the mirror and say it to yourself. I’m pretty sure you deserve it.