As a single mom have you ever experienced a feeling of Imposter Syndrome? Those feelings that you will eventually get found out. That you aren’t “all that” after all! We strive to keep up with the expectations of the world every day. As single parents, we hold court with everyone else that has a full size… two-income family.
We offer up the appearances that we are completely solvent…in charge of our finances…mastering our responsibilities and well, Super Humans! Keeping up with the birthday parties, trips to amusement parks, getting the latest toys and sneakers, all in the name of showing the world that we are equal to the task!
But at the end of the day when the sun goes down and we slide into bed after a full day of being two parents to our children…. we sigh and feel the impact of imparting an enormous amount of energy to be “all that”! And we fall into bed feeling inauthentic and spent. Closing our eyes and thinking, “Who was I today?”
I still believe that the no-talent police will come and arrest me.
As single parents, we can feel like someone we aren’t, a.k.a. an Imposter… because we are expected to be so many people simultaneously. Mother, Father, Teacher, Coach, Counselor, Employee, Provider, Supporter in Chief.
These are a lot of hats to wear and it’s a lot of responsibility. And yes, though all of those feelings can lend themselves to being just a parent in general, there is an increased responsibility to be all those people as a single parent and with very little rest. And when rest eludes us, we get more entrenched in that Imposter Syndrome feeling because we are just tired. When we can’t find a place to decompress, the illusion of being everything to everyone at all times takes its toll.
Imposter syndrome by definition is people who suffer from chronic self-doubt that can override any feelings of success. I had a real Ah-Ha moment when I read that. To the outside world, I appear to be on top of everything. A successful career, a nice home, great children, a newly ordained Life Coach for single moms. All of that reflects the image of a woman who is on her game.
But inwardly I sometimes feel the complete opposite. I often feel like it’s never enough. Like I’m never enough. I can never have enough time, money, or energy to accomplish the daily tasks let alone the bucket list I want to accomplish during my time on earth. I have raised the family from babies and toddlers to the last one getting ready to complete to her college degree. I have ridden the wave for over 20 years and in that time, I have lived and morphed through many identities. All of which felt like an Academy Award performance!
Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.
Failure is not an option. I cannot count in my mind how many times I said that to myself, “I cannot fail!” I didn’t say this because I am some kind of over achiever. I said this over and over because the stakes were so high and the margin for error so minuscule.
For decades, I had two people looking up at me every day of the week, looking for support, guidance, friendship, and love. They needed me to be whole every day and on every level. Failure was just simply not an option. I knew my marriage had failed, but I couldn’t even focus on the why’s and how’s to that. I had to focus on my children to make sure that I didn’t fail that mission. My ex-husband and I had safe and happy childhoods. And by golly, my kids were going to have that too!
I know for a fact that I didn’t check every box, but I did the best I could. As do all single moms! We do the very best we can with the cards we are dealt. And sometimes we just want to throw that deck of cards in the sky and ask for an easier deck!
So, what is the result of this Imposter Syndrome and how can we fix this dilemma?
The result of living with Imposter Syndrome can cause a feeling of no joy in our lives. We are reacting, reacting, reacting to everything all the time. How can anyone feel like themselves if they are always in reactive mode? And how can they feel joyful when they are feeling like a phony!
The first thing we have to say to ourselves is that we are NOT Imposters! If it feels like we put on and take off hats that give us another identity at the moment, then so be it. We are actually brilliant in doing so and should be celebrating this skill rather than doubting it. Yes, every parent has to play many different roles.
The difference is that in a married family, they are able to play the roles required while also being supported by the other parent present. But we are Divorced Moms. And oftentimes, as hard as it is to admit this, the pressures that are put upon us are actually put there squarely by us.
We try to keep up at every stage and show the world that we are Super Humans! And…it can turn into something that’s all about us! What do I mean by that? I mean that our self-imposed unguarded thoughts give foundation to the Imposter Syndrome we feel. Thus, stealing joy right out from under us!
If you are searching for that one person who will change your life, take a look in the mirror.
The second thing we need to do is approve of ourselves. If we don’t, who will? We have only to look over our shoulders from the day our children were born to see the very life of that sacred contract we made with them. That is to love them unconditionally and give them the best foundation possible. Single parents are the most selfless people I know.
As a standard operating procedure, we put our own needs last in almost all scenarios. Unconditional love has never met this kind of warrior before! And we are no Imposter! This is a strong selfless admirable woman who rocks it all and lets the world see her power. She is powerful indeed.
The privilege of a Lifetime is being who you are.
Lastly, 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 an imposter syndrome persona has clinched its grip on us. 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 are watching us. Their seeing our imperfection and vulnerabilities, only to be met with our self-acceptance, will teach them all they need to know in order to love and approve of themselves too! The most authentic thing you can do for yourself is to receive all that you are and all that you aren’t! As the saying goes…Warts and all! If you feel like you are getting close to that Imposter Syndrome threshold, just hold on to yourself and look squarely in the mirror and say…Bring It!