Do other mums feel like a fake too?October 7, 2016
I think I have what’s known as Imposter Syndrome. On a rational level, I know I’m a mum (there’s a child sleeping in her cot to prove it, along with all sorts of plastic crap, a body changed forever and a very sickly bank balance), but sometimes – okay, frequently – I just don’t feel like it. I feel like a fake mum, going through the motions, failing at it when others are nailing it. Playing a role, instead of living it.
It’s almost as though The Mum Police (they wear Boden and always have clean hair) will knock on the door, ask me to cook an Annabel Karmel fish pie from scratch while they wait, check my YouTube browser history for Peppa Pig overdosing, and give my daughter a spelling test before stamping a big FAIL on my forehead, for all to see.
There are fleeting moments when I feel like a mum – when she sleeps on me, putting on her shoes, a sticky little hand in mine – but I’m still waiting for a revelation of sorts.
From their birth, we expect the magical ‘maternal instinct’ to kick in, a parenting manual to be downloaded into our brains before we leave the maternity ward, for us to stop being so selfish – to WANT to listen to them banging on a tambourine for hours instead of getting a massage and having some quiet time – and I’m sure for some mums this is a reality. Delighting in hours of baking, of crafting all day, of knowing the words to lullabies instead of just Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel No 2 (the only song I can sing by heart). But I’m not one of them. Yet. I live in hope for that revelation.
I’m trying to do what yoga instructors have been telling me for years. To stay on my mat. To not compare myself to others, but good grief it’s hard. To see children running into their mother’s arms at pick-up time, while my girl wants to stay and play longer, me pulling her away. To watch mums handle their toddler’s tantrums with patience and grace, while I quickly scoop her up and will her to shush. To scroll through social media and see perfection.
This week I received an email that said ‘How’s it going balancing work and motherhood? You make it look easy’, so maybe others think I’m nailing it too.
I just want to let you know that it doesn’t feel like it, and if you feel the same, you’re not alone. Let’s stick together – safety in numbers might scare off The Mum Police.