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"I have come to the realisation that I am an Imposter Mum."

At a work conference recently, I heard a fantastic speaker discuss, ‘The Imposter Syndrome‘. The ‘syndrome’ is basically a term for the psychological experience of feeling like you don’t deserve your success. Although it is mostly used to describe your experience relating to work it can be applied to any area of your life.

I realised while listening to this condition being discussed and her explanation of all the ways you effectively self-sabotage yourself within your career, that it is also incredibly reflective of being a mother.

As a mum or a parent of any ‘classification’ I don’t think there is ever a time where you think, “wow, I am the best mum/dad/insert classification term here. I always get everything right, I am doing a stand-up job.” More often than not you compare yourself to others and think what a wonderful job they are doing while you self-analyse your abilities and criticise them.

This is where ‘The Imposter Syndrome’ comes in.

The Imposter Syndrome has a collection of common sign/s. After looking into these I have realised that in regard to my ‘work’ as a mother, I am indeed displaying many of the signs and symptoms, I have come to the realisation that I am an ‘Imposter Mum’.

An expert on the subject, Valerie Young, has categorised ‘Imposter Syndrome’ into five subgroups, (I have tailored these to the parenting world in attempt to self-diagnose, self-treat and to share):

The Perfectionist.

A ‘Perfectionist Mum’, doesn’t recognise success because they will always find flaws and concentrate on these instead. Often described as “control freaks”, ‘perfectionists’ feel if they want something done right they have to do it themselves.

Case in point the image below – daily outfits in zip lock bags, categorised by day labels so my husband could dress my daughter appropriately for the week while I was away for work. Yes, I am indeed a ‘Perfectionist Mum’.

"Yes, I am indeed a ‘Perfectionist Mum'." Image: Supplied.
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The Superwoman.

‘Superwoman Mums’ are convinced that they are a phony parent, that in comparison to every other mum or parent out there who are the ‘real deal’ they are instead frauds and because of this have to work harder to prove themselves, to measure up.

Perhaps you know (or maybe you are) someone who hand makes everything in their kid’s lunchboxes from scratch? Or someone who has their children’s clothes, underwear and socks all washed, folded and ironed and put away like clockwork and without fail? Or maybe you know someone who is involved in every parent association at their child’s school? Or they ensure their child’s reader is read every night – rain, hail or shine night so they are at ‘the head of the reading class’ (this last one may or may not be me).

They could be totally awesome/crazy, or, in fact be a ‘Superwoman Mum.’

The unfortunate thing with being a ‘Superwoman Mum’ is that for them (yes, me) it is about the validation from others (in my case the school report) and it is often a cover up for their own insecurities which can mean harming their own mental health and relationships with others (eek).

The Natural Genius.

‘Natural Genius Mums’ judge their success as a mum based on their abilities rather than their efforts. If they have to work or try hard because it doesn’t come au natural, they believe they are bad at it.

I am definitely one of these.

One of the many examples I could share in this category, is the fact that I cannot deal with my children’s emotional outbursts (aka tantrums) very well.

Shona and her daughters Milla and Addi. Image: Supplied.
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When I see other parents talk their children out from the ‘tantrum edge’ without batting an eyelid I am absolutely in awe, but I also am frustrated that I can’t do the same thing so easily. For me it has involved books, internet searches on techniques and much work with my patience to even look like I semi know what I am doing and not a toddler myself; it definitely does not come naturally to me and I feel like I suck at it.

The Rugged Individualist.

When caring for your children do you often find yourself saying (or thinking) “I don’t need anyone’s help? I can do it by myself.” If you whole heartedly believe that ‘mother (you) knows best” you may be a ‘Rugged Individualist Mum.’

A ‘Rugged Individualist Mum’ might think that she needs to accomplish everything by herself or perhaps believes asking for help lessens her worth in the parenting field.

Sometimes this might be in reaction to an over sharing grandparent or friend who ‘knows best’ and has had ‘experience’ that could ‘help you.’ Or perhaps it is just the way you have always done things.

Although working as an individual has its benefits, remember it takes a village to raise a child, so seeking help when needed is okay too.

The Expert.

‘Mum Experts’; do you feel like you need to know every milestone your child should be reaching at every stage of life? Do you feel like you need to research, read, find out everything about everything to do with parenting and doing the ‘best’ for your children for the stage they are at now and for when they are ten years older as well? You need to know it all because that makes you a good parent, right?

Shona and her two daughters. Image: Supplied.
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If this sounds like you and the possibility of not knowing the answer about anything mum related creates fear of being exposed as a parenting flake, you my friend suffer from ‘The Mum Imposter Syndrome.’

In the job world, Valerie Young (the expert) suggests “practicing just-in-time learning. This means acquiring a skill when you need it–for example, if your responsibilities change–rather than hoarding knowledge for (false) comfort.” So, in mum or parent world, learn what you need for your children at a given time (because they are always changing) rather than trying to cram in all the information at once.

My diagnosis is complete, and severe Mum Imposter Syndrome is 100 per cent confirmed. Now I’m off to prepare my girl’s clothes for tomorrow and listen to my daughter do her reader.

Are you an Imposter Mum? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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