Are You a Mompostor?

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Sometimes I walk out of a patient room and think to myself “I have no idea what I am doing.”  That’s right despite my 11 years of higher education, my 14 years of clinical medicine experience, countless awards, and thousands of patient hours…. sometimes, ok most of the time, I feel like I don’t measure up to my colleagues.

I suffer from self-doubt, perfectionism, and a huge monster of inner criticism. My mind is constantly replaying scenarios, asking myself if I made the right decision, reading other articles for comparison to my own decisions. This is a part of my medical decision-making process, but the fact of the matter is this self-doubt bleeds over to an important arena in my life being a mother and possibly a Mompostor.

What is a Mompostor?

If you are not familiar with the above portrayal it is called “imposter phenomenon” or “fraud syndrome.” Drs. Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes first described imposter phenomenon in 1978. They defined it as “despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the imposter phenomenon persists in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.” As our society continues to thrive on comparison and picture-perfect posts on social media Psychology Today went on to coin a new term in late 2019…. Mompostor.

Self-Judgement and the Inner Critic

That’s right a Mompostor. I cannot think of one mom who has not compared herself to another. As mothers, a lot of us live in self-doubt and the thought that we are “faking it.”   We have a constant parade of thoughts leading to self-doubt in our abilities to parent. Am I spending enough time with my children? Am I making the right decisions when it comes to parenting? Am I raising good human beings? Unfortunately, there are other thoughts as well. Why does Jenny always dress fabulously? Mary always makes perfect lunches. How does Sarah have the time to throw a Pinterest-worthy birthday party? Did you see Kelley’s body on Instagram how has she had 2 kids and look like that? And lastly the worst thought of them all…… Why can’t I be more like her?

As mothers, we are always struggling with “Are we good enough?”

Most of us are swimming in a sea of self-criticism. Bottom line – being a mother is hard and none of us were given an instruction manual. To take it a step further being a mother with access to social media is really hard.

We are living in a world our mothers never had to navigate.

How do we fight the perception of being a mommy-fraud? It is easy to get lost in thoughts of our inner critic, but how do we beat that she-devil down?

Here are a few tools to help change the feelings of being a Mompostor.

How can we beat the Mompostor?

  1. Talk about it: Acknowledge your feelings, say them out loud, and then analyze why you are feeling this way. When you say your thoughts out loud you hear them in real-time.  Are they valid or ridiculous? Sharing them with a friend can be helpful as well. Our girlfriends tend to lift us up and help fix our crown.
  1. Set reasonable goals and expectations: I say this on repeat in my clinic. All too often we set goals that may be unattainable in the timeframe we have set in front of us.  Failure is part of the journey in motherhood and should not cause shame. “You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time”
  1. Keep a success/affirmation journal: Most of us are receiving kind words, praises, and small successes on a regular basis.  Write them down. When you are having a moment of defeat, read them. We tend to focus on the losses and forget the wins.
  1. Choose a mantra: The way we speak to ourselves is so important. Our inner voice is a very powerful one. One of my militarisms that has always stuck with me is “Perfect is the enemy of good.” As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I must remind myself often good is good. Your mantra can be as simple as “I am enough.”
  1. Practice Self Compassion: We are human. We are not perfect. We can never be anyone else but ourselves. We are the perfect mother that was chosen for our family and no one else’s. Remember you are good enough. 

Fake It til You Make It

For some of us, Mompostor syndrome may not be curable, but it will be manageable. With mindfulness and positive self-talk, we can realize we aren’t faking it but we are killing it. I will continue to burn bread at dinner. When I am tired, the kids will get leftover pizza in their lunches and my thighs will always be a work in progress. The truth is at the end of the day my family loves me just the way I am, and I will continue to “fake it ’til I make it.”

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Kacey is a lifelong Gulf Coast native spending her childhood between New Orleans, LA, and Ocean Springs, MS. After graduating from Ole Miss she attended Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fl for Medical School graduating in 2007. She then had the opportunity and privilege to serve as an Air Force Physician until 2014. During this time, she met her husband and started a family. Kacey and her husband with babies in tow moved to the Pensacola area in 2014 to be closer to family and she once again made the Gulf Coast her home. When not practicing medicine, she is dating her husband and wrestling 2 boys while trying to raise them right. She is a self-declared foodie, hopes to be a world traveler one day, and spends a lot of time honing her home cooking skills. She is a lover of life, cares deeply about her patients, and most importantly loves time with her family.

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