parent opinion

"I feel like an imposter." Four mums on the guilt of finding motherhood easy.

The names featured in this story have all been changed for privacy reasons, however they are known to Mamamia. The feature image used is a stock photo.

Ah, parenthood.

If you’re not drowning in a sea of homework and laundry, if your personal space isn’t being constantly invaded, and if you’re not so tired you could easily fall asleep on the peak of Mount Everest – how do you even know you’re a parent?

Right?

Well, as it turns out – not always.

Mamamia Outloud talk about the women who regret motherhood. Post continues below.

Video by MMC

There’s a secret group of parents out there who aren’t drowning in domesticity, who love co-sleeping with their pre-schoolers, and who have enough energy to go for a run at 5am, four mornings a week.

But you won’t hear them talk about it, because they feel guilty that their experience isn’t that of the majority.

They feel like ‘imposters’ in motherhood, because things that should be harder for them are just… not.

We spoke to four mums about how and why they don’t feel like ‘real’ mums.

Elly: Single mum

I hate calling myself a single mum, because single mums do have to work harder and do face more challenges, being on their own… but I feel like I don’t deserve the respect and admiration they receive.

I make an excellent wage, my former husband pays decent child support, we have a good custody arrangement, our two kids have adjusted wonderfully; the divorce quite simply hasn’t turned our lives upside down or put us in a position where we struggle.

I know from my single mum friends that isn’t the experience of most single parent households.

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Yes, I’ve worked at a lot of this, but then luck has also played a huge factor. I can’t take credit. That’s why I feel like an ‘imposter’ single mum.

Amrita: Mother’s group

I find mother’s group awkward. We all have babies under three months, and a lot of the discussion is about sleep; how to get the babies to sleep, how we can cope with our own sleep deprivation.

But the thing is, my baby has slept through the night since six weeks. He self-settles to a large extent. I’m not sleep deprived at all, and nor is he.

I know that may change in the future, but right now, it means I have nothing to contribute in those discussions. And I would also NEVER admit how easy it is for us with sleep.

But because I seem to be the only one ‘bucking the trend’ of the sleep-deprived new mum, I almost feel embarrassed – like I don’t fit in.

I nod empathetically, and make the right noises, and I’m sure everyone thinks I can relate to what they’re going through.

But I can’t.

Gemma: Husband is an equal parent

So many people warned me that a baby changes your marriage, and that men in general don’t take to fatherhood until a newborn gets older. I told people I thought that was crap, and in my experience, with a now six-month-old, it entirely is.

My husband is an equal parent in every way, but I feel bad to admit it publicly.

So, I accept the lasagnes from supportive friends, and offers to babysit while I get my hair cut, but the truth is, because my husband takes his responsibility as a father as seriously as I do mine as a mum, we eat well, and we both get time to ourselves when we need it.

advice for new mums
"My husband is an equal parent in every way, but I feel bad to admit it publicly." Image: Getty.
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We have teamwork that doesn’t seem to be in too many other families with babies that I know.

I’m proud of our family, and I feel very blessed. But when my friends with babies get together, and complain about their husbands, I’m silent.

In fact, one friend even commented how I never say anything bad about my baby’s father – and I had to make something up!

“Oh, look, he has his moments, and likes his sleep-ins as much as I do,” I replied non-committedly, thinking we’ve had a solid arrangement of taking it in turns to wake up overnight, and sleep in, since we brought our baby home.

So yes, I’m an imposter new mum, or maybe it’s that my husband is an imposter new dad?

Meg: Doesn’t mind the sacrifices

Okay, so this will sound smug, but I’ve never minded the sacrifices that come with being a mum.

My daughter was an IVF baby, and I’d had three miscarriages before that, so I think I can just roll with the punches a bit more, and the sacrifices come naturally to me.

I feel like I was making sacrifices with my body, emotions, time and money ever since we began to try to get pregnant. It was a four-year journey.

And now our daughter is here, and almost a year old. It has been an absolute joy.

Even the times she’s taken two hours to get to sleep, or refused dinner, I don’t get frustrated and I honestly wouldn’t be anywhere else.

I don’t know if I would feel the same way about motherhood if I hadn’t lost so much, and given so much, to get pregnant. I think it made me accustomed to sacrifice, so when I had my baby, I was already used to living a life where you put your child first, where you don’t come first.

I know it’s not a typical first year mum experience. I don’t admit it to too many people, because I still want to look as though I’m part of the sisterhood of motherhood.

But most of the time, I feel like I’m not.

Have you ever felt like an 'imposter mum'? Just know that you're not alone, and share your experience in a comment below.

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