Imposter parenting

This post was half triggered by a couple of posts I read yesterday about imposter syndrome.

It’s also triggered by the events of this particular day…

I’ve been a father to a beautiful son for almost three years, and he was joined by an awesome little sister almost a year ago. These two little tadpoles are my everything, and I just love seeing them morph into little persons, complete with their own views and ideas, personalities.

For three years – partly because we moved countries just after becoming parents, followed by a pandemic – me and my wife Heike were doing most of the care for the kids together. You might think: doh.. obviously. But I mean it quite literally. We often shared tasks together, and as we both worked from home during the pandemic, we were mostly alternating care for our son. For our daughter, my wife is still in maternity leave and breastfeeding, so she has been very reliant on her for a long time. In all those three years neither me, nor my wife really spent a full day alone with them. Sure, I went on short day trips with the boy regularly, and would go for a walk with the baby in a sling. Sure, Heike obviously also does all kinds of things with both of them, but it’s never a full day alone. There’s always daycare, or if not available I work from home – at least partly. A couple of weeks ago I had a multi-day work meeting far away (my first time being away from the froglets), and my mother-in-law came over to help with the kids. Not alone.

Today was my first time ever spending a full day with both kids, alone. Heike has friends visiting Munich this weekend, and they will spend time in Munich together today. No problem at all. I would take care of the kids…

Or would I?

My mind envisioned all kinds of horror. Horrible parent. These kids will likely starve to death, or will at the very least meet another equally horrible fate. I kept most of these things to myself and acted all tough to Heike, but to be fair it was all bluff.

I hate to say this, but Heike was probably even worse.

She has a version of imposter parenting syndrome that is projected to me (or more likely: other people in general) rather than to herself. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t blame her for this. It’s the instinct of a mother, and this, I think, can only be normal or expected if the goal is to protect the children you have carried in your womb for nine months and depleted your own energy for nurturing. It’s love in its purest form.

It’s love, and love is a wonderful thing! But it also made me terribly insecure. It made my own imposter parenting syndrome flare up like crazy.

My wife never said anything bad. She wouldn’t. But I could feel it. All week she has been instructing me on the silliest things. Things I also do every day, things that are also common sense. Maybe not to everyone. They are to me. It was very clear that she didn’t trust me to manage…

My wife is even more of a control freak and perfectionist than I am. It showed. Whenever we go away, she always has everything planned out. I don’t, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think of the important things, or do them. I have a different and more laid-back approach. I’m happy with that. Life is already stressful enough as it is.

After today, I can say that my approach works just fine.

After we dropped Heike in Munich, me and the frogs spent a wonderful day in Munich Zoo. My son Rafa had an amazing time and was smiling from ear to ear all day. My daughter Lara was either happy, satisfied, or sleeping, and all three are fine in my book. Some tears were shed on the drive back, but nothing that a song made up and executed by Papa couldn’t fix. Speaking of which – Papa – he was pretty proud! Certainly the only individual parent in the entire zoo dragging a three and a one year-old with him.

At home we danced and played, ate dinner together, danced some more, and went to bed.

Usually I write my blog from my blanket fort while bringing Rafa to bed. Today’s my premier trying it while bringing both children to bed simultaneously. They slept faster than ever, and here I am, finishing my blog (it even has pictures!).

It was a great day!

Strange baskets
I scream
Wobbly buckets
Visiting the giant tortoises
Amazon fish
She can stand up! She looks so proud 😂.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

6 thoughts on “Imposter parenting

  1. Imposter parenting! I’ve never thought about that before (well, I’m not a parent, so maybe that makes sense) but it really does fit. Even despite that, it looks like you had an awesome day with your kids! I love the pictures. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

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