I can think of 2,340,567 reasons being a princess would suck (I could say challenging or complicated but my unroyal self thinks nothing sums it up as eloquently as sucks). As a child it seems such a splendid notion. Then you grow up and realize that even at Buckingham the birds don't actually speak while everyone on the entire planet speaks a whole lot about you. But, the horror of being so very brutally in the spotlight came into sharper focus when I saw that lovely photo of Kate and Will with their new bundle of joy followed by one of a hoard of lenses trained on their fresh new little family.
When I left the hospital it was in a Yankees T-shirt and pajama pants (the size of which I shall never ever reveal). I was swollen and kind of a wreck. My body … I cringe to recall. I felt on the outside as though I'd been plowed right over with some sort of farm equipment. My brain wasn't so different either. I was full of a lot. Joy and excitement and love love love. And terror. And a little panic. (Like the top of a rollercoaster you realize too late you can't see the end of — no idea what's coming and hoping and praying that whoever is in charge was right when they calculated whether you'd plunge to your death if the seat belt malfunctions.)
|The ride home with one swollen momma and (praise the Lord) no audience.|
I left the hospital in front of a small audience — husband, mom, sisters and best friend. And I arrived home and began this mothering business with that very small group of people — each intent that I succeed. No criticism or judgment. Just a lot of prayer (and sweet tea and chicken sandwiches) and love love love. I can't really wrap my head around facing the whole entire world. Of not just being photographed days after giving birth (other than a couple taken from above to camouflage that epic swelling), but doing the mother thing in front of the whole entire world.
It's hard enough being a mom. The mothering part isn't always the toughest. In fact, there are times it's the outside world that's the hard part. The opinions and judgements and two cents of everyone that either gave birth or knows someone that did (if you're a dude who hasn't raised a kid there's a 99 percent chance no woman wants your opinion) are exhausting if you allow them in.
Clearly I know nothing of royal living and I'm not meeting Kate for a playdate at Bach Lunch, but I do know what it means to be a mom and hold a ball of spectacular new life. And know that it's all you. That you are the only momma (or mummy or whatever more dignified way a royal will refer to their mother). That how this kid turns out rests squarely on your shoulders along with your husband. And to hope and pray and then pray some more.
At some point very early on, it's important to learn that you are the momma. I read a lot of books and am still glad I did. I listened to a lot of mommas. And am still glad I did (and still do). But, you develop a kind of filter. You begin to understand that your little snowflake fell into your world (or, more accurately plunged in screaming and wailing) at just such a time as this to just such a set of parents. That the decisions you make for them are based on a set of facts and circumstances no one in the whole world knows or understands properly.
You begin to realize that what matters most is doing your best by this little creature and that no one else knows what that means the way you do. That you know this little person in a way only their very own mother can. That you understand maybe it's more important to have an afternoon jamming at Bach Lunch and eating string cheese than taking a nap on time.
My little sister was the first person so close to me to give birth. When my niece was born the first thing I said upon seeing her: "I know you."
And while I'm not her mom, she opened my eyes before Wilder arrived to a truth that the uniqueness of these tiny humans is beyond words or understanding until you're tasked with the raising of them. And that there are too many choices and changes to ever claim that someone else is doing it wrong while you're doing it right.
So, here's to the future king's momma. May she have the fortitude to pave her own momma-ing path. May she filter out the noise and see clearly. And if she needs any advice I'll be at Bach Lunch way past nap time dancing up front.