In my mid-20’s, I finally landed my first office job. It came after several years of interviewing and countless rejection notices. I walked in to my new office on my first day, and was flooded with information and handed a large binder to study. “There’s no way I’m cut out for this.” I thought to myself. Surely, someone would see that I was an imposter.
Five years later, I became a mother.
From the beginning, it’s been clear that the outside world sees me as the primary decision maker, and not my husband. I’ve taken on the role gladly, preferring to have control over situations, especially those concerning my son. The decisions came in a rapid fire from the start: was I going to breast feed? Were we going to circumcise? Would the baby sleep in the crib in the nursery, in a bassinet in our room, or in bed with us?
I didn’t hesitate in making these decisions, and didn’t look back in regret. I had studied the discussions surrounding these questions and made an informed decision on each one. Even when we hit roadblocks with breast feeding, I quickly decided how to handle them, and felt contentment in the results.
Recently, my son has entered the toddler stage, and I’m remembering those old feelings of being an imposter. The decisions I now have to make are daily and less clear cut. How often do I say no? If I say it too much, he might see the world as a negative place. If I say it too little, he won’t have necessary boundaries. How much processed food is too much processed food? How often should he play by himself and foster his creativity? How often should I be down on the carpet playing with him?
More often, the decisions I have are those that others ask me to make. “Can I give him a cookie?” They ask. “Should we put the baby to bed early tonight to make up for his awful nap, or should we stick to the normal schedule?”
“What should I feed the baby for lunch?”
I answer these questions as well as I can, but I sometimes want to shout “I don’t know! Can’t you see that I’m winging this?!” The decision fatigue is strong, and as a result, I long for others to take over some of my non-parenting decisions. I crave a break from being in charge.
There are days where I feel like I was created to be a mother; that it’s my true calling in life, and that I’m rocking motherhood. I know that I love my child fiercely and without limits, and think that surely that’s enough to make me successful as a parent. Then there are days where others bombard me with decisions that I haven’t had a chance to think through, and I can’t imagine that I’m doing any of this right.
I’m hoping motherhood is like the office environment with which I’ve now grown comfortable – if I fake it long enough, my feelings of being an imposter will fade and will be replaced with unwavering confidence.