As a single mother, have you ever experienced a feeling of imposter syndrome? These feelings that you will eventually find out. That you are not “all that” after all! We strive to keep up with the world’s expectations every day. As single parents, we hold court with everyone else who has a full-size two-income family.
We make it appear that we are completely solvent … in charge of our finances … in control of our responsibilities and well, Super Humans! Keep up to date with birthday parties, trips to amusement parks, grab the latest toys and sneakers to show the world we are up to the task!
But at the end of the day when the sun goes down and after a whole day we slide into bed as two parents of our children…. We sigh and feel the effect of conveying an enormous amount of energy in order to be “all that”! And we fall into bed feeling phony and worn out. We close our eyes and think: “Who was I today?”
I still believe that the untrained police will come and arrest me.
As single parents, we can feel like someone we are not, also known as a cheat … because we are expected to be so many people at the same time. Mother, father, teacher, coach, consultant, employee, provider, commander in chief.
These are a lot of hats to wear and it is a lot of responsibility. And yes, while all of these feelings can lead to being just a parent in general, there is an increased responsibility to be all of these people as a single parent and with very little rest. And when we miss the rest, we anchor ourselves more in this feeling of imposter syndrome because we are just tired. If we cannot find a place to decompress, the illusion of being everything for everyone at all times takes its toll.
Imposter syndrome, by definition, is a person who suffers from chronic self-doubt that can override any feelings of success. I had a real ah-ha moment reading this. On the outside, I seem to have everything under control. A successful career, a beautiful home, great kids, a newly ordained life coach for single mothers. All of this reflects the image of a woman participating in her game.
But inside I sometimes feel the exact opposite. I often feel like it’s never enough. Like I’m never enough I can never have enough time, money, or energy to complete the daily chores, let alone the bucket list I want to complete during my time on earth. I have raised the family of babies and toddlers through to the last preparing to graduate from college. I’ve been on the wave for over 20 years and have lived through and transformed many identities during this time. It all felt like an Oscar performance!
Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts that are unguarded.
Failure is not an option. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve said to myself, “I can’t fail!” I didn’t say that because I’m kind of a high-flyer. I said that over and over because the stakes were so high and the error rate so low.
For decades, two people looked up to me every day of the week for support, guidance, friendship, and love. They needed me to be whole every day and on every level. Failure just wasn’t an option. I knew my marriage had failed, but I couldn’t even focus on the why and how. I had to focus on my children to make sure I didn’t miss this mission. My ex-husband and I had safe and happy childhoods. And my kids would have that too!
I know I didn’t check every box, but I did my best. Like all single mothers! We do our best with the cards we are dealt. And sometimes we just want to toss this deck of cards in the sky and ask for an easier deck of cards!
What is the result of this imposter syndrome and how can we resolve this dilemma?
The outcome of living with imposter syndrome can bring about a sense of joy in our lives. We react, react, react to everything all the time. How can someone feel like themselves when they are always in reactive mode? And how can you be happy if you feel like a fake!
The first thing we have to tell ourselves is that we are NOT scammers! If it feels like we’re putting on and taking off hats that give us a different identity at the moment, so be it. We’re really brilliant at this and we should celebrate that ability rather than doubt it. Yes, each parent has many different roles to play.
The difference is that in a married family they can play the required roles while being supported by the other parent present. But we are divorced mothers. And often, hard as it is to admit, the pressures put on us are actually put on directly by us.
We try to keep pace at every stage and show the world that we are super people! And … it can turn into something that is all about us! What do I mean by that? I mean that our self-imposed unguarded thoughts create the imposter syndrome we feel. This is how we steal joy right from among us!
If you’re looking for that one person to change your life, take a look in the mirror.
The second thing we have to do is agree to ourselves. If not, who will do it? We just have to look over our shoulders from the day our children were born to see the life of that sacred contract we made with them. That means loving them unconditionally and giving them the best possible foundation. Single parents are the most selfless people I know.
As standard operating instructions, we put our own requirements last in almost all scenarios. Unconditional love has never met this type of warrior before! And we are not a scam! This is a strong selfless, admirable woman who rocks everything and lets the world see her power. It is powerful indeed.
The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.
Finally, be kind to yourself. You may be a powerful warrior, but you are not perfect. Perfection is overrated anyway. The expectation of perfection is the sign that a person with Cheat Syndrome has got us under control. We are not perfect. We will never be perfect. And we shouldn’t want to be perfect either!
That would be a disservice to the children who watch us. Their seeing our imperfection and vulnerability just to be confronted with our self-acceptance will teach them everything they need to know to love and approve of themselves! The most authentic thing you can do for yourself is to get what you are and what you are not! As the saying goes … warts and everything! When you feel like you are approaching that threshold of imposter syndrome, just hold on tight and look straight in the mirror and say … bring it!