Like most other royal watchers, I was elated when I heard the news earlier this week that the Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant, expecting a third child in early 2018. In her third pregnancy, Kensington Palace confirmed that Duchess was again dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness that includes symptoms such as “persistent” vomiting, dehydration, ketosis, electrolyte disturbances, and weight loss of more than five per cent of body weight.
While the Duchess cancelled several engagements to deal with her illness, there was one “engagement” that the media and royal watchers alike did not think Kate would miss if at all possible – Prince George’s first day of school. Several comments were made about how “a mum would never want to miss a child’s first day of school” or “she’ll go even if she’s super sick because it’s a mum’s job”.
While I won’t lie to you and tell you that mom guilt doesn’t exist, the worst culprit for exacerbating the symptoms of mom guilt is other people judging you or telling you what you should do, how you should feel or what you should act like as a parent. When the Duchess is lying in a bed feeling as ill as anything, the comments from others that she should go to school or that it’s her job aren’t helping her mom guilt. We all can agree, I believe, that Kate is a good mom. She regularly comments on spending time with her kids, she goes to measures to protect them from the public where possible and it’s evident from the children’s behaviour when she is with them that she spends time with them. What I am sure of is that Kate does not need the media telling her she should be at Prince George’s school drop off with him to make her feel worse about possibly not being able to attend.
While I could roll up to my child’s school drop off looking like death warmed over and no one would care, there are guaranteed to be dozens of photographers waiting to catch the perfect snap of future King of England on his first day of school. Kate will be photographed endlessly and can’t just throw on some clothes, toss on a cap and grab a pair of big sunglasses to get George out the door. Her hair will need to be done, an outfit selected that is carefully thought out, makeup applied… It’s a whole thing in the reality that is the Duchess of Cambridge’s life. Now, don’t think that this is me saying “Oh, woe is Kate about her life” – I’m not. I truly believe she had the time and intelligence to think through the life she was entering into as a part of the royal family and knew the ups and downs, the perks and the cons. However, there are days, like today where I feel bad for the anonymity she has had to give up and the pressures that are placed on her.
Remember when I said Kate was a good mom? That’s how I know she already wanted to attend George’s first day of school. My son’s first day of kindergarten was this week. On the first day, two classes full of rambunctious 5 year olds walked in while parents in various states of emotions came to the back of the class to watch the children go through their first attendance. There were stay-at-home moms with several kids tagging along, working moms with their smartphones out typing emails and numerous grandmas beaming with pride at the group of children in front of them. There were also equal numbers of dads present. Dads in casual outfits having taken vacation to escort their kids to school because their moms were working, dads in business suits who took a few hours off to ensure their kids could be there, grandpas who looked generally confused at why they had been selected for this job in the first place. Let’s face it, modern moms are all kinds of women. We’re women who love our kids, but who also have lives that cause circumstances – either by necessity or choice – which don’t always allow us to play the role of mom at every single second.
I won’t be able to attend my son’s “welcome conversation” with the teachers today due to a previously scheduled meeting. Do I feel guilty about it? Sure, a tiny bit. But I also have, like Kate, a partner in my husband who will attend the meeting. (Mom guilt 101: Even when a dad is doing the job you still feel guilty) While my husband is most certainly not the future King of England, he is, like William, as equally responsible for the little person in question as I am – and as equally capable of ensuring that the little person arrives to school, is safely escorted to his classroom, is made to feel welcome and comfortable in his surroundings before leaving and allowing him to go on his own. (Added bonus for Kate here, William has security guards who will ensure he arrives at the school on time and photographers who will document every angle for her – whereas I have to get badly angled selfies on a smartphone and questions about where the school is, but that’s a whole different article)
My point is that when Kate, the poor thing, is laying in bed, nauseated and likely hooked up to an intravenous drip – she does not need to have her internal feelings of mom guilt magnified by others. At the end of the day, Kate is a human being just like you and I. She is afflicted by the same emotions and one of those is guilt. And when you’re down – emotionally, physically or otherwise – we as women should strive to help each other feel better rather than make us feel worse. So Kate, if you are reading this, I want to tell you two things: One – I hope you are feeling better soon. Morning sickness is awful, and I can not even imagine what HG is like and what you are going through. And two – don’t let the mom guilters get to you. Moms are amazing creatures who have unfortunately developed the feelings of guilt that we need to be the perfect moms at all times. But the reality is we don’t. If we love our kids, treat them well and are supported by family and friends who are able to help us when we can’t do everything… We’re doing fine. And by the looks on the little people’s faces… You are too.