After giving birth to her third child, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, exited the hospital looking flawless.
Bright-eyed, subtly made-up, perfectly coiffed, and wearing high heels for god’s sake, she is the envy of all new moms. Hell, 3 years after giving birth to my first, I wish I looked that put together on date nights!
Except…here’s the thing: it’s Duchess Kate’s job to present herself in a certain way for the public.
She has a support team that us commoners couldn’t even dream of. And that’s ok!
In no way am I attempting to knock her birth experience (I don’t care who you are – a lady from small town Alabama or Wonder Woman herself – surviving childbirth is a triumph!), but when I left the hospital on that humid October afternoon in 2014 after giving birth to my son, I’d been through the ringer.
I was exhausted. I was mortified to be in charge of keeping a newborn child alive. I’d been through 25+ hours of stalled, painful labor. Looking like royalty was literally the last thing on my mind.
Even so, many of us fall victim to the unfair expectations that society places on new moms.
We’re encouraged to breastfeed only – and if our milk doesn’t come in or our baby’s latch is weak (for reasons beyond control) and we switch to formula, well, we are essentially poisoning our children all because we didn’t try hard enough.
If we co-sleep, we’re careless parents who are endangering our children. If our child sleeps in his own room from the early days (god bless the good sleepers!), we’re neglectful monsters.
We’re given x months and y days to “get our bodies back” or else we’re pathetic slobs who’ve simply given up – and how could even our partners find us attractive?
These impossible standards have to stop, and dearest Kate, with all the respect to you and your beautiful family, you’re making it hard for us.
So here’s my challenge to new moms.
Don’t compare yourself to Kate.
Let Kate have her fame, her impossibly precious family, her cameras, her press conferences and interviews, her housekeepers and nannies, her immaculate outfits, and wish her well with these luxuries and all of the expectations set for her.
Even for royalty, motherhood is some challenging ish!
Let Kate have her life, and take a moment to embrace yours.
Don’t focus on loving your body, per se – your engorged breasts, your love handles, the clumps of hair falling from your head (thanks, hormones). Instead, focus on gratitude for all every single miraculous feat your body has done and continues to do.
When you look in the mirror at under-eye circles darker than the onyx of your most dramatic eyeliner, don’t frantically buy the most expensive concealer to hide them. Bask in the joy of spending moment after moment smiling when your little one smiles or when you rock her to sleep in the quiet of the night.
When your pre-baby jeans just won’t zip up, don’t hang them in your closet front and center as the proverbial carrot. Donate them! They are from a bygone era, and let me tell you a secret – high-wasted, stretchy jeans are everything. Buy some new ones that flatter and fit your curves.
Whatever you do, don’t listen to the critics. You’re a mom, so yes, you’re different now. You look different and your priorities have changed immensely.
You’re a warrior, and you’re beautiful for filling such a role.
Whether clad in flip flops or high heels like Kate’s, step into that role with confidence, gratitude, purpose, and joy, and be sure to lift up other moms along the way.
Catherine is part of the Contributing Writer Network. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.