Do you ever feel like a fraud? Like, you’re doing something that you shouldn’t necessarily be doing? I don’t mean swearing under your breath when a small child asks you to wipe their arse, but rather, in general – in life – do you feel like you’re playing a part that you’re not actually qualified for. I DO.
Right now, I feel like a fraud playing the part of the following:
A fitness instructor
A responsible adult
Which is a problem, because those things that I’ve listed above? THEY’RE ALL THAT I FUCKING DO.
I’ll be honest, I don’t feel qualified to do any of these things. I also feel that I’m going to be called out as a fraud at any given moment.
Like, the motherhood thing. I have, on paper, been a mother for 11 years. Eleven years! That’s more than a decade! We only had dial-up internet when I became a parent! But I still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, and I’m not entirely sure I should be left in charge of small people. At school, at football training, in any interactions with other mothers, I’m acutely aware that I’m just pretending to be one of them, and that at any point a proper mother might realise that I’m unfit for the job and say HEY, you’re not a proper mother! You’re just a dickhead with a high-functioning womb! And they’d be right, of course. I have no idea what I’m doing; I make up all the shit as I go along, which is the equivalent of closing my eyes and hoping for the best, which is also what I do.
Most of the time I can blag it, but sometimes I feel like I’m living on the edge. Like, when I’m left in charge of a child that’s not my own. Man, I panic in those situations. Last week, my friend asked me to watch her kid for 20 minutes after school. Twenty minutes! But I floundered, I faltered and I fucked it up, with the result that I lost Frankie, and my friend returned to find her own son standing in the sandpit with his willy out. It wasn’t a great result.
And then there are the parent-teacher interviews. I’m sure, by now, the teachers have rumbled me as an unqualified grown-up. I wear the wrong clothes, make inappropriate jokes, and sometimes – but not often – swear when I should be nodding and smiling. It’s a minefield.
By the same token, it’s only a matter of time before my own children figure out that I’m a pretend parent. They think I know what I’m doing; I don’t. The other day I did parent help in Frankie’s pre-primary class. Frankie was SO PROUD; we got to school early and he told every single child who arrived that his mummy was helping in the classroom that day. And I’m, like, “Who’s this mummy you’re bigging up? She sounds awesome.” The realisation that I’M the mummy – that I’m someone’s MUMMY – still floors me. That sounds like a position of responsibility and authority; I’m not sure I’m the right person for the job – my jeans are ripped and my shoes are flat, and I’m yet to invest in all-purpose, just-above-the-knee denim shorts.
Of course, this “imposter syndrome” (because that’s what it is) extends far beyond just motherhood. I’m also pretending to be a fitness instructor. It’s going okay so far, but I was nearly caught out last week when a nice gentleman asked for advice on his Achilles tendon. Fortunately, he was pointing in the general vicinity of his discomfort, so I put two and two together and surmised that the Achilles must be around THERE, somewhere, so I made up some shit about stretching beforehand and hoped for the best. But there you go! I’m a fitness fraud! I get up on stage and prance about and pretend to be competent, but in reality I’m just a dickhead who likes to shout at people from a safe place.
And I mean, have you ever bought a house? Mate, that’s some grown-up shit, right there. All those offers and counter-offers, rates and mortgages and loans and applications; I was certain that at some point a bank manager or a real-estate agent or a real, proper grown-up would turn around and say, “You’re taking the piss. You shouldn’t be in charge of a child’s scooter, let alone a massive house with reticulation and shit. Piss off back to playgroup, baby-human.”
I’m turning 40 this year. I can only assume that come November 8th I’ll have figured this shit out, and be wearing sensible shorts with those practical clippy-cloppy grown-up shoes that are both comfortable AND versatile. I’ll report back.