Motherhood Unmasked is back for season 7 and in this episode Vanessa’s uncovering the reason so many moms feel forced to fake it and how to show up authentically as you.
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***NOTE: See homework for this episode at the end of the show transcript.
Hi there! If you’re a mom dealing with the challenge of raising kids while battling the effects of your childhood trauma. This podcast is for you.
IT’S BEEN A WHILE
Hey there, Mama Bare! It’s good to be back behind this mic talking with you again, hosting real conversation around motherhood. Motherhood Unmasked is where we drop our masks for real talk about the challenges that we’re facing, particularly as adult survivors of childhood trauma.
If you are new here, welcome, welcome, welcome.
I’m so glad you are here to join us for the first episode of season 7! And since you’re new, I highly recommend you go back through the six previous seasons and listen to the nuggets that I shared in those episodes.
But first we have some catching up to do.
A NEW SEASON
I hope you had a good summer—a great summer even. I enjoyed mine hanging out with my kids, because I now have a college freshman, a high school senior, and an eighth grader.
So this summer was the last hurrah, so to speak, for the Fab 5 you know in the sense that as a former military family it’s been the five of us as a unit living different places around the country until finally settling here in Texas.
And so before sending one of the kids off on his journey, I really wanted to give full attention to enjoying my children.
Enjoying them at their current ages, their current relationship dynamics—which are hilarious, by the way—and enjoying whatever concentrated time I had left to pour into my oldest.
So that’s why I took a longer break from the podcast than I normally do between seasons.
But on top of all that, I turn 50 at the end of this year. And you know 50 is one of those milestone birthdays that causes you to reevaluate things.
You know, is what you’re doing still working for you in this season?
And I realized that with the projects I’m taking on, I need a more efficient system for constructing podcast episodes.
So we’ll see how that goes, but in wrestling with whether or not to try something new, I felt like I was faking it.
That maybe me having to pivot in my podcast production meant I had no business being a podcaster.
This isn’t the first time I felt like a fake. There’s a whole name for this phenomenon and it’s called Imposter Syndrome.
You may have heard of it in the corporate or creative space, but the American Psychological Association describes it as a phenomenon occurring among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success and they often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.
And you’re probably thinking, Vanessa, why are you talking about this here on Motherhood Unmasked?
Because there are mothers who struggle with Imposter Syndrome too, particularly if you are a survivor of childhood trauma.
I mean, in plain language, Imposter Syndrome is the feeling you have no business doing what you’re doing and if people find out, you’re going to be exposed.
So, in the mom space, you doubt whether you are equipped to be anybody’s mother because of what you did or did not experience as a child.
So either you overcompensate to look like you have it altogether or you don’t show up as a mom because you’re deathly afraid of messing up.
And since I heard other mothers besides me admit to the struggle, I thought we would kick off the season defining our nemesis, Imposter Syndrome, and looking into practical ways to defend ourselves against it.
Then, in future episodes, discuss strategies to decrease the frequency and impact of Imposter Syndrome.
IMPOSTER OR GUILT
Now you may be wondering, is the Imposter Mom concept is another name for mom guilt? And I would say no, because most moms suffer mom guilt.
We’ve been so conditioned between our biology and society to be ready to rescue 24/7 that we really believe the hype.
So, when we can’t show up the way everyone expects—because we’re human after all—we feel a measure of guilt.
Imposter Syndrome says, it doesn’t matter how hard you try; you have no business being a mother in the first place.
And the reason Imposter Syndrome is a problem is because it’s a fear that immobilizes you and keeps you from growing and becoming the mother you actually hope to be because you’re so afraid of being exposed for who you think you’re not.
And it’s particularly cumbersome for adult survivors of childhood trauma because we are typically silent about our trauma and silence breeds insecurity. And insecurity is at the root of Imposter Syndrome.
So I’m having this conversation or hosting this conversation, to expose it so that I can encourage you to give voice to your trauma, in safe spaces, so that you can be built up in the place you feel insecure, so that Imposter Syndrome doesn’t really have anything to work with.
Then you’re able to dismiss it more readily.
I experience Imposter Syndrome on a few fronts. First, as a mother, since my mother wasn’t nurturing, I always felt I had a handicap in the sense of how in the world am I going to nurture my children when I was not nurtured?
So I did what I talked about in episodes 35-38. I received nurturing from a mother figure and I became the mother to myself I never had.
But Imposter Syndrome still shouts that that’s not enough because “other mothers” learned to nurture because they were nurtured.
So they’re authentic and I’m the counterfeit.
It doesn’t take much to feel like I have no business being a mother or that it’s no wonder I’m having a certain difficulty as a mother because I wasn’t prepared to be one.
Which brings me to another lie Imposter Syndrome feeds me which is I have no business hosting a podcast for moms.
First, because I’m not a journalist or a formally trained speaker. Second, there are other mom podcasts with hosts who are more engaging than me.
Third, I don’t have a household name that moms will flock to and four, how about all the mommy issues I’ve had to work through in counseling?
And I battle those foolish thoughts not only as a mom of 3 doing motherhood from scratch, but as a pediatrician.
A physician trained to give counsel to mothers on a variety of topics.
So, before I address strategies, I think you have to recognize the fact that Imposter Syndrome is not rational.
It feeds on hidden insecurities that you harbored in silence. And like mold, things festering in the dark spread easily.
So, I’m encouraging you to call it out and expose Imposter Syndrome for the lie it is so that you can address it properly. Because Imposter Syndrome is a waste of energy.
You spend so much time doubting yourself that you’re not investing in the areas where you need to grow. The areas Imposter Syndrome exploits.
So, when it comes to strategies, one thing I do is talk back to it. Now I don’t put up with talking back from my children, but I’m all for talking back to any voice sabotaging how I show up in my assignments.
And I literally talk back out loud. I mean, I’m not yelling, but out loud.
Because you think these thoughts and you think okay well if I just think a contrary thought that’ll work.
But I don’t always find that effective.
In the same way, it says faith comes by hearing—and somebody has to be speaking for you to hear—truth takes root by hearing as well.
And you need to be the one speaking truth to the areas where lies are being sown.
So when I start to doubt and question and consider myself unworthy of what I’m called to, I say, “No, I reject that. It has no basis in truth.”
Because here’s another thing. Why is it as women that we are so quick to embrace baseless commentary without question?
Maybe it’s because as a little girl, you were expected to be seen and not heard.
But I’m so grateful my dad would challenge my thoughts by asking me why I thought that way and what it was based on.
Because of that, I have a history of questioning things, in a healthy way, that I use to confront Imposter Syndrome.
So, when Imposter Syndrome wants to ask me questions, I respond with my own.
Why can’t I podcast? There are no formal requirements.
Why can’t I coach moms concerning their motherhood journey? For heaven’s sake, I’m a pediatrician! And Sure, I still make mistakes, but the only failure is not learning from them.
So it’s a blessing to share what I’ve learned so other moms don’t make the same mistakes.
And by the way, who is podcasting, who’s perfect? That would be no one—so, conversation over.
I hope talking back and questioning the validity of Imposter Syndrome’s accusations helps you because they’ve helped me accomplish things that, on paper, I had no business doing.
Like writing four books, starting this podcast and starting a prayer YouTube channel.
I’m not trained for any of them. I’m a physician, but because I felt passionate about them and compelled to give them a go, I’m doing it.
And the same goes for becoming a mother.
Wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked, but I’m learning on the job like any other mother.
I’M OUT HERE NOW!
And once you’re out there walking on water, that is not the time to ask, “What am I doing out here walking on water?”
You’re already walking on water. You’re already doing what by most accounts or really seemed impossible!
So just go ahead and keep getting better at it, but for heaven’s sake, don’t go walk back to the boat!
In upcoming episodes, we’ll talk more about unraveling Imposter Syndrome’s hold on us as moms who are trying to heal so that we can help our own children grow.
I look forward to you joining me for those. Thanks for getting real with me on this episode.
And until next time, please remember, when it comes to you being the mother of your children, you’re the one to do it. No matter what Imposter Syndrome says. You are the woman for the job. Take care.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast should not be taken as medical advice. The content here is for informational purposes only, and because each person is so unique, please consult your health care professional for any medical questions.
This Episode’s Homework
Need Help to Heal?
Got A Minute to Pray?
New “PrayerTube” channel on YouTube
Features prayers about a minute long written and read by Vanessa. Start your week off right, with a prayer on Monday mornings. Because prayer changes things and you have a minute to spare.
Looking for a journal?
Journal from the Heart is a great every day journal with an encouraging verse or affirmation at the bottom of every page. If you’re working through any kind of loss, the journal, My Journey Through Grief and Loss, helps you acknowledge the significance of your loss while honoring the memories you’ll always cherish. And if you meet with a counselor or a coach, you need a journal to keep track of breakthroughs and aha moments in between sessions. A copy of the My Reflections Journal for guided post-session review would be perfect for you.
The Motherhood Unmasked Journal
A Journal Worth Your Story
160 pages waiting for you to fill it with the struggles and the wins on your motherhood journey!
And she’s pretty coming and going! Available on Amazon.
Let’s Stay Connected
Do you know why I call you Mama BARE? Because you’re unmasked and unapologetic in admitting motherhood is tough, and you appreciate conversation that honors that.
So, connect with me for more support, empowering the best version of you as a mom.
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