Have you heard of this before? It’s mega common in my circles because of the type of work I do but it’s also a common phenomenon in general for a lot of folx. If you haven’t heard of it, I’ll give you a definition below:
Imposter Syndrome: the feeling that your achievements are not real or that you do not deserve praise, acknowledgement or recognition for successes.
So many angel parent’s struggle with feeling like this. Too often, we have experienced the intense joys of pregnancy, birth and maybe even a short time of child-rearing followed by the crashing devastation of losing those precious lives abruptly. This leaves many of us feeling confused, frustrated, in shock, and of course, in denial. As I’ve mentioned before, this type of denial isn’t what you normally think: it’s not the “this didn’t happen” kind of denial, it’s the stages-of-grief kind of denial where you can’t fully wrap your brain around the loss you’ve suffered. Maybe you finally began to celebrate your new identity as a parent, a mom, a dad, or whatever parental term you chose to use. Maybe you made announcements, maybe you breast or chest-fed a child, maybe you got to see their smiling faces and now only have memories. Maybe you embodied that identity of parent/mother/father/etc. and then, just like that, no one needed you in that way anymore. These things can easily make you question how to identify yourself NOW.
What do I say when people ask if I have children? Do I consider myself a parent/mother/father even though my little one(s) is no longer living? Am I a fraud by continuing to hold onto that identity especially if I compare myself to people with living children? Do I not deserve to have my identity, however shortly held, acknowledged and affirmed? Do I not deserve to have people remember the children I lost? Does it even matter?
These are thoughts & questions that run through many (I’d venture to say all but I know better than that) angel parent minds whether it’s once or constantly. Negotiating the identity you want, own and feel is valid while simultaneously playing metaphorical tennis with society’s ideas of what is valid & true is EXHAUSTING! Dealing with external pressures is one thing; Add to that the internal messages a person is constantly fielding …
Can I be transparent with you? Well I’m going to be regardless because that’s just how I roll. So I sometimes struggle with holding the identity as mother and even the identity as woman. I know intellectually that these two identities are not always held simultaneously and that identifying as one doesn’t always make you the other. So how did I arrive at the struggle intersection? Everything about our society tells us that women are mothers and mothers are women. Everything about our society suggests that identifying as a woman without desire or benefit of creating children makes you some kind of imposter… less than a person who identifies as a woman and has children. For me, my identity as a woman is very much tied to my identity as a mother BUT the universe has really forced me to expand my overstanding (Shouts out to Floetry for this word choice btw! What they doing…?) of what it means to be either… both…
I now overstand the many different ways one can be a woman should they choose to identify that way. I also now overstand that the identity of mother extents way beyond having living children and even beyond creating & carrying babies in your body. I’m not going to lie to y’all and say that this overstanding is innate or constant. It’s work. It’s work combating both the external and the internal. SO! Here’s my nuggets of wisdom for you to keep in the forefront of your mind, your back pocket or toolbox:
- Your identity is YOUR identity. If you are an angel parent and consider yourself a mom/parent/father/etc. I AFFIRM THAT IDENTITY!! Try not to allow others to tell you how you should or shouldn’t identify or what is or isn’t true for you.
- If you have a loved one who has lost a little one(s), please do not try to dictate what is meaningful to that loved one based on your own thoughts. That’s selfish and unfair.
- Lastly, if you’ve lost a little one(s) and do NOT identify as a mom/parent/father/etc. THAT IS OK! Again, your identity is YOUR identity. Surround yourself with people who affirm who you are.
Sending <3<3 & healing vibes as always.