While yesterday was mostly an upbeat, positive day, today has . . . not been. I’m not even sure why. In the past month or so, I have been bouncing wildly between being really happy to being really sad. There is sometimes a good reason: I was supposed to be really happy that I found a new job. I was supposed to be sad when my daughter started having problems with her suicidal thoughts again. So some of these I can account for, but most I can’t. I will probably start using this blog somewhat as a means for tracking this sort of thing, just to see if there are any patterns or anything else I can recognize.
Today I feel very down, which concerned me at first, but then I looked at the date. Yeah. This one I get. Even if I didn’t know immediately what the date was when I got out of bed, the energy was in the air. It’s weird how you can feel that, even when you are by yourself. And I’m not going to spend this blog post talking about 9/11, except for this one paragraph. It affected me, of course, but only as it affected all Americans. I wasn’t there. I didn’t know anyone who was killed or injured in any of the attacks. I was scared for my country and for the uncertainty that had suddenly been put upon us, but other than that, my life continued on in a pretty normal pattern. I realize how lucky I am to be able to say that, to the point where I almost feel a bit guilty for admitting it. Which brings me to what originally inspired this post.
A video popped up in my Facebook memories, which I shared again today because I thought it was funny. I am not savvy enough to link the video here, so I will just describe it. A mom is watching her kids walking to the bus stop from her window. She is telling the camera about how she is hiding from the “fancy moms.” You know, the ones who are always put together and seem to know all the right things to say and do. This mom (and I absolutely adore her) was still in the clothes she had fallen asleep in the previous day. She couldn’t figure out how the “fancy mom,” who was in clothes to play tennis (which she apparently does every day), was able to not only be so perky, skinny, and awake, but also drinking from a “wealthy person mug.” This real mom is not the one who will be bringing homemade cookies to school, but she will be glad to write a check. “I’m the check-writing mom,” she says towards the end of the video.
While I don’t go out of my way to hide from other moms, I’ve never been completely comfortable around them. Like other parents at my kid’s school, for example. So many of them just seem to have, not just parenting, but their whole lives figured out. They either have a job that they are good at and find satisfying, or they stay home and raise their lovely younger kids. With few exceptions, they never seem frazzled. They always seem completely in control.
I wish I could feel that way. Even if it was only for five minutes.
So what do I do when I have to interact with these people? I fake it. I fake it so hard. Seriously, anyone who thinks that I am a bubbly, upbeat person is someone who does not know me well. At all. And then I go home hating myself because I had to fake it in the first place. Why can’t I be just like all the other moms out there who have everything put together and figured out? I moaned about this on Facebook, mostly as a joke, partially as a cry for help, po-tay-to, po-tah-to. And here’s the funny thing: I got several comments and messages back from friends of mine who are moms, all admitting that they have no idea what’s going on either. And not just moms my age – one of them is the mother of a girl I went to high school with! We’re all muddling through it, and none of us have a clue what we’re doing! Yay!
It made me feel a bit better (and also a bit worried for the rising generation who will be looking to us for guidance at some point). It’s easy to forget that you are looking at usually people’s best selves when looking at social media. Vacation pictures. New babies. New pets. If someone posts about a hardship, you see outpourings of support and prayers, followed by a heartfelt thank you for how much that helped. When I was a kid, I looked at the adults that surrounded me and thought that they all had life figured out. That was just what you did, right? You grew up, you understood life and your place in it. End of story.
If only, right?
One of the commentors on my Facebook memory said, “Imposter syndrome is a very real thing. I always feel like someday people will find out that I’m not really talented or kind or good or intelligent or (insert whatever here).” And it’s true. I replied that, “I keep wondering how long it’s going to take before people realize that I’m just a scared kid in an adult costume!” So I’m putting it out there now. I am a scared kid in an adult costume. I have been since the day I turned 18 and expected this wash of knowledge and “adult-ness” to come over me. It never has, and it never will, but here’s the best part. I’m starting to believe that I am not alone. This is what most of us go through and you know what? That’s okay.
We’re okay. Or at least, we’re gonna fake it. And most likely, that “fancy mom” is faking it.
And that’s okay too.