Why I Don't Feel Strong Sometimes

I have been trying to find a way to write these thoughts for weeks. This is the best I could come up with.

The last few weeks have been complicated. Health issues have affected our home, and I find myself handling more than I often think I am capable of. We have been incredibly blessed with a support network of people who have been there for us unconditionally, which has triggered tears in both myself and the kids more times that I would like to admit. Somehow, our house and family are still standing, even when my brain is flooded with “what ifs” and “how comes” multiple times throughout the day.

And while the world seems to be on pause, our lives haven’t. Ethan now has Google Meets three to four times a day, Lily meets with her friends on Zoom two to three times a day, and I am still working, with added learnings through the NGF and the JewV’Nation Fellowship. And while staying busy has been a saving grace, those distractions eventually stop, and I am left to my own thoughts.

One of those thoughts in the past few weeks is my relationship with God. You know things get dicey when you are a Jewish Educator and find yourself desperately needing pastoral care because you are so mad at God that you don’t know who you are anymore. There was a point in the past three weeks when I just could not figure out who I am anymore. I was angry, frustrated, even grieving at times. I have questioned my ability to parent my children on my own, take care of my loved ones, even take care of myself. I became so incredibly angry at God, at our current situation; I was ready to give up everything that I believed in out of spite.

My thoughts about my skills as a mother were also victims of my overactive, overworked, overextended brain. My children have really been the true heroes during this whole ordeal. They have managed to muster an unheard of amount patience and strength; they ask questions, and even when the answer is not what they were hoping for, they are able to just accept the answer as it is, and go on through their day, somehow keeping me together.

And before you start reading: no, this post is not about religion.

I have been incredibly lucky to have Rabbis in my life who have been able to support me in that area through this process. The part that I struggle with isn’t the belief in God anymore (though our relationship is still very much strained at the moment), but the belief in myself.

How am I supposed to be a Jewish Educator when my own belief systems are broken? How am I supposed to be a mother when I don’t feel I can keep my family together when they need me the most?

What will happen when people find out I am an absolute impostor?

As a Social Worker, I have heard about Impostor Syndrome multiple times. And yet, I fail to see it when it comes to my own thoughts and actions. For those that have not heard of it, Impostor Syndrome is the concept where you believe your successes are all due to luck, and not by your own skills and qualifications.


This has been one of the big hurdles I have had to manage in the past few weeks. So many people have told me how strong I am and how I’m keeping it together, while all I think of is how little control over my own life I have right now, and how I am failing miserably: my kids are still struggling, I am barely sleeping and eating, and we still have no concrete answers from doctors (though we at least have some ideas now, and we are slowly moving forward). When Lily decided to potty train herself the day everything started, and people told me how incredible it was that I managed to potty train her with everything going on, my thought was “are they kidding?! It was luck, she decided to do it on her own!”. When I was managing to give seminars that I had previously scheduled, and people were giving me good feedback, my thought was “they are trying to be polite, and I only managed to pull that off because that seminar has been finished for months and I had a script”. For everything positive that was happening in my life, I managed to tear it down in a way that would diminish any work that I had done for myself, effectively keeping myself from crawling out of the dark hole I had forced myself into.

I don’t write myself as a “woe is me” situation. I write this because I am not the only one in this spot during this pandemic, or even in motherhood as a whole. Some research has shown that Impostor Syndrome is more likely to affect women, and during a period in time like a pandemic, where women are charged with an increasing amount of responsibilities (working from home, homeschooling children, etc.), we become more susceptible to falling for this idea that we are not enough; that we are barely surviving not by skill, but by luck.

I can’t say that I am out of the dark hole, but I can say that I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t say that I believe myself to be fully capable of being an educator or a mother based on my skills, but I do believe that I could be, and that our current situation doesn’t define us, but that the role it plays in our story is that of growth, and not failure.

My wish to you this week is that you find your “maybe”. That maybe you can be strong enough to survive another week in quarantine; that maybe you are brave enough to speak up for what you need; that maybe you are as wonderful and strong a mother as others keep reminding you that you are; that maybe, just maybe, everything will be ok.


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