When I saw the photos of Kate Middleton leaving the hospital in stilettos on Monday, I wasn’t impressed. Instead, I felt those pointy heels jabbing at mothers' hearts all over the world.
As women took to social media wondering how the Duchess of Cambridge pulled that off just seven hours after giving birth, I thought the answer was pretty obvious: with a nanny, some stylists, a driver, a prince and a palace to go home to. Duh.
While Kate makes the postpartum experience look like a party, complete with a red dress and blow-out (which have to be hiding a massive pad and leaky breasts, right?!), most moms have other things to think about in those hours after pushing a baby out of their body, like "is there anything in the fridge at home" and "how will I survive without sleep for six months?"
We think, damn, I sweated through my only nightgown and God bless these comfy black leggings. We wonder if we got the right size onesies, if we installed the car seat correctly, is there enough money for expenses that are about to skyrocket and how will we take care of this precious new life that we love so very much but might need more than we can give?
It’s the other 99 percent of mothers who don’t have a support staff at their disposal that really impress me.
No doubt, now that Kate’s been home for a few days, she has to fret over other problems the rest of us don't—such as getting her figure back for photo ops. And that’s fine. If she’s not on brand—which is to say skinny and pretty with well-coiffed chestnut hair and perfect children—she risks being excoriated by the press. Still, I would discourage anyone from being too impressed when she shows up on the cover of People magazine in two weeks, having lost the baby weight and then some.
It’s the other 99 percent of mothers who don’t have a support staff at their disposal that really impress me. These are the women I can get behind and cheer for.
They're the ones not splashed across the magazines racks in their skinny jeans, but rather juggling work and motherhood with limited resources. They're wondering if those scant few weeks of paid leave are enough to recover their focus and how much the childcare will cost. Will their kids grow up to resent them for leaving them in daycare? Will they be able to pay for college? And there still isn’t anything in the fridge!
Yes, I know. Considering her privileged position, the Duchess of Cambridge is about as human as a royal can be. She’s regularly applauded for being a “hands-on mom.” But really, when you don’t have to lift a pinkie except to get a manicure or sip your Earl Grey, it’s actually not as hard to be hands-on.
It's when the hands also have to wash clothes, clean the house, do the shopping, drive to work and hold the baby through long nights of colicky crying, then I’ll start clapping.