The “Romeo and Juliet” script was sitting on the dining room table, looking forlorn and abandoned. It was 11:30 am. A mere three hours earlier, I had assured Sophie on the way to the bus stop that I had put it in her backpack.
Despite my confident insistence, Sophie stopped on the sidewalk and started to unzip her bag to make sure it was there (because Sophie knows me better than I know myself). I told her not to bother because the script was most definitely in her backpack. Against her better judgment, she believed me.
She hopped on the bus, eager to spend a few minutes before her drama class reviewing the prologue. She’d diligently memorized it, but was worried she’d forget her lines when it came time to recite it for the teacher.
I took Truffle to the dog park, returned home and did some work. As I was folding clothes at the dining room table, I noticed the script and did a double-take. And I silently berated it: why in the hell aren’t you in Sophie’s backpack?
I called Sophie’s school to see if I had time to drop it off before her Shakespeare class. But I was too late.
In the scheme of parenting fails, this was a small one. However, I couldn’t help but tie it to larger themes of imposter syndrome, an ailment I only recently became acquainted with in my work as a freelance writer. You know, the one that tricks you into thinking you’re not good enough to actually claim the title of writer (let alone a paid writer) as your own?
As I paced my living room wondering whether Sophie would succeed in reciting the prologue without having the script in her hand as a crutch, I realized that I’ve actually grappled with imposter syndrome as a mother for the past 15 years.
I’ve mastered momposter syndrome.
Since Chloe and Sophie were infants, I’ve experienced all manner of symptoms. Wondering if my breasts were producing enough milk to feed them. Wondering if I could tell the difference between a sick toddler and a cranky one. Wondering – for more than a decade, mind you – if I was deficient as a mom because I struggled so mightily to balance full-time work and parenting, and often felt like work was winning when parenting should have been winning all the time.
Wondering if I am too controlling or too lax. Wondering if they’ll inherit more of my less stellar traits than my better qualities. Wondering if they’ll look back on their childhoods when they’re adults and mostly remember all the things I hated to do: arts & crafts, cooking, cleaning, science fair projects, chauffeuring, helping with homework, anything PTA-related, laundry…rather than all the things I loved to do with them: traveling both near and far, reading to them when they were little and talking about books when they became readers themselves, cuddling with them, having substantive conversations with them as they got older, celebrating their milestones, surprising them with the occasional small present, going to the movies, taking care of them when they were under the weather…
I forgot to pack the “Romeo and Juliet” script in Sophie’s backpack on the day after Mother’s Day. The day after Sophie baked cupcakes – with homemade frosting, no less – and made me an adorable miniature notepad and crayons (she’s miniature-crazed lately) to thank me for being me.
By the time Sophie returned home from school, momposter syndrome had taken over in full force. When she walked through the front door, I girded myself for the well-deserved lecture she’d bestow on me. I immediately showed her the script and profusely apologized.
She looked at me like I had two heads. “Mom, it’s really ok. I didn’t need it. We had a substitute teacher anyway. He was so annoying. He wanted us to be all dramatic when we recited the prologue. It was ridiculous!”
And with Sophie’s nonchalant reaction, momposter syndrome was defeated. Until the next time.
How has momposter syndrome impacted your life? Do tell!