I’ve been reading a lot lately about impostor syndrome.
For those of you who are unaware of what impostor syndrome is, let me enlighten you. It "occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success," according to the American Psychological Association. "They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud."
Yeah...I think I kind of have mom impostor syndrome.
You see, I have five kids. Five kids who are neither quintuplets, nor children strategically popped out every other year to create the perfect tiny basketball team. No, my kiddos are spaced out over a generous time span where it seems like I’ve been going to parent-teacher conferences for the past 20 years.
You know...because I have.
So I’m not a new mom; not by a long shot. I am unfazed by the wail of a newborn and can change a diaper in 60 seconds or less while the baby lies sleeping on my lap.
But even so, I feel fraudulent in my mom-ing.
For example, last night my youngest daughter had her first dance class. The joy of week one is that she has brand new gear so there is no need to hunt for her tights or fret whether or not her leotard is clean. Nope, she just needed to slide into her dancing accouterments and we’d be ready to roll.
Only when she pulled her tights into place, there were yellow spots on them. It was as if she’d gone hardcore Jackson Pollock with a bottle of mustard. Apparently my kiddo had tried on her dance clothes a few times in the privacy of her room, leaving behind unsightly spurts of gold Crayola marker and no time for laundering.
A real mom would’ve had an intelligent solution, but I am not that mom. I turned the tights inside out and backward, so you only noticed the smattering of turd yellow if you were behind my daughter. Somehow, this sort of made sense at the time.
Needless to say, the other dancers looked flawless and mustard-free — front and back — because their moms had locked down the uniform situation.
At the studio she attends, parents wait outside of the classroom during lessons. So once I ushered my soiled ballerina into her room, I sat down on the hallway floor and stared at my phone while the real moms talked.
One mom had a huge bag sitting beside her — a bag bursting with every little thing anyone could ever need, including wet wipes, crayons, markers, fruit snacks, coloring books, juice pouches, Goldfish crackers and Band-Aids.
And that wasn’t all. Those are just the items I witnessed her dealing to the people in the hall around her. I’m confident this uber-organized mother also had the necessary implementation in that super satchel to sew a dress, perform an emergency appendectomy and bake a pie from scratch.
All at the same time.
That made me glance down into my own purse. A Snickers wrapper, a Milky Way wrapper, eight eraser-less pencils, 12 receipts, a used paper towel with something green on it and a plastic 6-pack aluminum can holder (?). Those were the things visible at a peek. No Band-Aids, no wipes and no anti-bacterial squirt.
Not only did I fail to pack kid stuff, I even failed to pack adult stuff.
I may mingle with the other moms, bandying about words like “taxes,” “curriculum” and “chardonnay” like a straight up mother, but I fear I’m fooling no one. Even though I’ve given life to five human beings, I’m still just stumbling through parenthood with a big WTF look on my face.
Lynn Kirkle is a writer and lives in Omaha with her husband and five children. She writes twice a month for momaha.com, and can be found on Twitter @LAPainter.