The Veneer of Confidence

by Samantha on October 21, 2012


Looks can be deceptive.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Things are not always as they appear.

All of these common adages can be attributed to moms who sport The Veneer of Confidence.

They do it with aplomb as they strut through the schoolyard, grocery store or daycare with nary a care in the world. After all, these women seemingly have everything under control - and then some.

With their heads held high and their babies slung low, they live the perfect life, the one that we so want to experience. They look good in their unsullied clothing, with their designer strollers and their well-behaved brood. Heck - even their kids seem perfect. “How do they do it,” we think to ourselves. Our envy gets the best of us as we admire their countenance in the face of what we would consider a daunting scenario.

“If only I had her calm demeanor, her sense of style, her confidence” we think to ourselves. If only.

And then we skulk away, back to our home replete with dirty dishes, dirty laundry and screaming children.

It doesn’t seem fair.

If only we could have what she has. How on earth does she do it?

The Veneer of Confidence is displayed by a certain type of mom. She’s the perfect parent whom you love to hate because in her perfection she is magnifying our weaknesses - tenfold. We couldn’t possibly pull ourselves together with the careless ease that this mother has been able to do. She epitomizes everything we want to be but are not.

A confident mother is a successful mother. A confident mother is a great mother. A confident mother is the mother we must all strive to be or else we have apparently failed at one of life’s most important roles. The Veneer of Confidence is such that, while elevating those who wear it to a status so much higher than your average mom, it at once diminishes the rest of us to the nether regions of parenting.

By idolizing mothers who walk with The Veneer of Confidence is to perpetuate the myths that

1) Mothers have to be perfect

2) Most mothers are not perfect, ergo

3) Collectively, most mothers are failures at their role

We need to look at The Veneer of Confidence for what it is: a veneer.

How often do we really know what is going on with that perfect and confident mom? Looks really can be deceptive and it’s very likely that there are some factors behind the smile that we’re not able to see:

  • Perhaps she finally got a good night’s sleep after many months of nocturnal interruptions and is amazed at the transformation of character that she feels after resting for a solid eight hours rest;
  • Perhaps she has a nanny and/or housekeeper who is responsible for some of the more mundane aspects of parenting such as daily cooking, laundry and cleaning and is accordingly able to devote more time to her appearance, her needs and her wants;
  • Perhaps she’s battling a horrific home situation that goes well beyond the mundane and is determined to present at least one day where the world sees her with a smile on her face;
  • Perhaps she’s putting on a brave face to counter the intractable imperfection and inadequacy that she truly feels

Confidence is a feeling that comes from within and to those who accept their situations, learn and ultimately thrive from the knowledge that they have acquired from both the good and the bad in their lives. Confidence is a byproduct of acceptance; to truly feel confident one must know themselves intimately and feel satisfied that the person who they are is alright, in spite of their imperfections. Many mothers are confident, but so many more are not. Yet they have that veneer that makes us envy them so.

It is this appearance that throws the rest of us into a tailspin, feeling that we cannot possibly measure up to the standards set by these precious few who seem to have it all.

But “seem” is the operative word, and nothing is ever as it appears to be. The grass may not necessarily be greener, and perception is not always reality, despite what we may think. Which is good news for those of us in the trenches who are struggling to acquire even a semblance of the panache that these “perfect” moms emit.

They’re not perfect but they’re confident in their imperfection. The glass is half-full.

That being said, we therefore should be accepting of the fact that some of us appear to have found the secret to self-awareness and the confidence that comes from it. This because, after all, looks can be deceptive.

Do you envy other moms who appear to have The Veneer of Confidence? Why or why not? Answer in the comments below.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl Leahy October 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Oh Sam, you have totally hit the nail on the head with this one! For me, I HAVE to get dressed every day, do my make up, etc…because it helps me FEEL like I have my stuff together. That phrase “fake it ’till you make it” rings true in so many situations. Yeah, I might have mastered the smoky eye today, but it hides the bags under my eyes and crows feet that come along with a Terrible Twos Toddler. It is my sense of sanity in a world that otherwise might swallow me whole. Ask me, though, and I am more than happy to tell you what the real story is!
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Samantha October 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Cheryl, you’re not alone in the “fake it till you make it” school! I think so many of us do the same thing to either get us through a difficult day, or to counter the insecurities that we feel about ourselves. I truly believe that things are not always as they appear to be, and you never really know what’s going on with another person. Just because they may seem to have it all together doesn’t necessarily mean that they do. They may be “faking it till they make it” as well.
Samantha recently posted..The Veneer of ConfidenceMy Profile


Ellen December 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Ohhh, soo true!


Whitney Fleming March 11, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Love this! Some of my best friends used to intimidate me with their Veneer, but now I emulate it, and it helps! Plus, as the mother of three daughters, I want them to know I am confident. Nice post!


Samantha March 11, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Glad to hear that you’re on to the “Veneer,” Whitney. For most of us, we’re faking it as we go…there are NO perfect moms, anywhere. The truth is liberating, isn’t it?
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