When I was growing up I thought my parents had all of the answers.
Now I’m a parent and I feel like I have absolutely none of the answers.
I had a random, “oh my god, I’m a grown-up” moment the other day.
I was dropping my daughter off at nursery and she had been a bit unsure of heading off with her friends.
I found myself telling her things like “you’ll have lots of fun” and “mummy will be back to pick you up after tea”. She was anxious but eventually totted off to play with her best friend.
It made me flash back to all of the times I felt nervous going into a situation, now here I am telling someone else how to be brave and reassuring them everything will be ok.
It was a small, everyday occurrence, but it still struck me.
I’m a parent.
I am responsible for two little people.
Those two little people look to me for guidance, reassurance and help.
There I was in the nursery car park wearing a hoodie I’ve owned since I was 22, ankle boots that I didn’t have time to zip up before leaving the house and fumbling to unlock the car.
And as I looked at other parents dropping their kids off wearing suits and sharp work outfits, I found myself experiencing a case of imposter syndrome.
Am I really a parent? Am I even a grown-up? It’s almost like I’ve blinked and it’s just happened. I know that’s not the case, obviously, but the last three years are a total blur.
So much has changed for me and about me. It’s all for the better but I really feel like I’m not prepared for it, and yet I’m out there in the thick of it.
I question even more of my decisions than I did 15 years ago when I was emerging from those awkward teenage years.
Maybe that’s because my decisions are so much more significant now. It’s not just a matter of what shall I have for tea tonight, it’s how do I balance attention between my two children so one doesn’t feel left out.
So am I really “qualified” to be a parent? Am I ready to do this job right? Am I the right person for this job?
I feel like a total chancer some days. A pretender. Like someone else is going to walk into the room any minute and say “right I’m back, I’ll take over from here”.
But the thing is, I’m doing it. I am the parent. It’s not like I can quit, and I absolutely do not want to. But jeez do I feel the pressure and, some days, I feel like I’m totally blagging my way through it.
Every day I am guiding two small children through their formative years.
I look after their every need.
I feed them when they’re hungry.
I comfort them when they’re hurt.
I can tell when they’re sad.
I get them medicine when they feel ill.
I know what to do when they need comfort.
I know their favourite toys.
I know the silly face that makes them smile every time.
It’s time to recognise that I’m not a pretender. I am actually doing this thing.
And I really should give myself a little more credit, even though I am absolutely terrible at recognising any of my own accomplishments.
When it comes to my kids I can be a little bit easier on myself, because I just need to look at them.
I have brilliant conversations with my toddler who is constricting sentences I’ve seen adults struggle to get grammatically correct.
I hear my toddler spell her own name at just two-and-a-half years old.
I see my baby eating three decent meals a day.
I see my baby’s eczema getting better every day after months of struggling with dozens of different creams.
I look at my children smiling and laughing.
I watch my kids sleep peacefully in their beds.
They are the best thing I have ever done. So maybe I am qualified for this parenting gig.
Or maybe none of us are actually qualified or ready for it. We’re just doing the best for our kids because we love them.
Maybe we parents are all great pretenders. But as long as we’re convincing our kids, I think we’re all winning it at winging it.