I had a few moms over for coffee the other day and one of them was telling me about the “imposter syndrome” among moms. I’d never heard of it before, but I’ve definitely experienced it. The imposter syndrome, she said, is a term for moms trying to appear to have it all together, probably because they feel less-than.
Look, I know that’s tempting. I dropped the F-bomb at the kiddy park today when my dog pulled over my stroller and later mom-handled a isntshetoooldforthis tantrum from my four-year-old. In that moment, I remembered how my friend used to use a fake name at the bar, and considered that that might be a good idea for me at the park. Hello, I’m Veronica and these are my kids Kevin, Stuart, Jenny, and Britney. You will not find us on Facebook. Please forget we ever met, kthanksbye.
As a kid, I imagined that shipwrecks and quicksand were going to be a lot more of a problem than they turned out to be. I’d sometimes lay in my bed at night envisioning myself struggling onto a desolate shore in tattered clothes. The terror was not about getting marooned on an island, but being ALONE on that island with a ball I named Wilson. If it was a Swiss Family Robinson situation, I’d be cool. I could eat coconuts and raw fish as long as there were other people and a badass treehouse.
As a new mom I felt very, very alone. I was also newly married, so I tried to make my husband into my girlfriend. He was a terrible girlfriend. First: When I had an emotionally crazy day, he was scared of me. Second: He does not like drama. He can hash out all of life’s problems in under 30 seconds. Third: He makes fun of all TV shows. Fourth: He doesn’t even like junk food.
I sat across from you today. You are struggling, you are tired.
As looked into her eyes I recognized the exhaustion and the fear. I recognized the question, the one that asks am I going to be okay? I remembered a dark season in my life. I remembered when I was so undone with anxiety that I couldn’t take the kids to the beach or even make it out of the house.
I remembered when I had no hope.
I remembered a friend who showed up every single day on my doorstep. She’d ask, “What are you afraid of today?” I’d tell her and she’d listen. She’d really listen…that was the gift. When I’d run all out of words I would sit shaking on my porch trying to feel the sun that beat down all around me, but never touched my skin.
I have recently gone back to work part time. This is mostly because I plan on giving my kids a sub-par childhood.
So far everyone is suffering and wearing weird clothes to school, because I’m not there to control their fashion decisions. My kindergartner wore pink leggings and cutoff jean shorts to her school Christmas program. I snuck in a few minutes late from work and scanned the kids on stage. When my eyes fell on Oaklee, I burst out laughing. There she was, surrounded by red and white dresses and tiny bow ties. My husband waited in great anticipation for my reaction. Our eyes met when I slid into the seat next to him. He grinned and nodded proudly. “Yeah I did…” he whispered, giving me a big wink.
One crisp and starry evening, I was sitting around the fire with some of my best friends eating Oreos and drinking wine, when a little argument broke out among the newlyweds. It went something like this…
Friends, we need each other. Live bravely today. Live shamelessly. There are people that will take your invitation. Not only will you find belonging, but most likely you’ll give the gift of it to someone else.