She may be a duchess, but the former Kate Middleton isn't immune to the pressure of being a perfect mother.
The duchess (whom we will still stubbornly refer to as "Princess Kate" behind closed doors) kicked off an initiative to promote better mental health in early parenthood — a cause close to her heart. The mother of mini-royals Prince George and Princess Charlotte spoke today at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London at a reception for the Best Beginnings' Out of the Blue series, a collection of educational films that address mental health in parents and children.
Best Beginnings works closely with Heads Together, the mental health organization supported by Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate.
As usual, Duchess Catherine was classy as hell, eloquent and warm. And yes, if you must know, her outfit was fantastic. (She really does make this whole royal thing look like a walk in the park.)
"Personally, becoming a mother has been such a rewarding and wonderful experience," she said. "However, at times it has also been a huge challenge, even for me who has support at home that most mothers do not.
"Nothing can really prepare you for you the sheer overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother," she added. "It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love and worry, all mixed together. Your fundamental identity changes overnight. You go from thinking of yourself as primarily an individual to suddenly being a mother, first and foremost. And yet there is no rule book, no right or wrong — you just have to make it up and do the very best you can to care for your family."
Sure, the word "refreshing" sounds like we're talking about iced tea, but Kate's candor and willingness to speak from a personal perspective are exactly that. Kate is not afraid to give voice to her own insecurities and fears regarding motherhood, and we're grateful.
The duchess admitted that she often struggles as a mother with a "lack of confidence and feelings of ignorance." (Not exactly something we're betting her grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, would have shared back when she was a new mom.)
Two in 10 women experience depression, anxiety or other acute mental health issues during and after pregnancy, Kate told the attendees.
"Many of these women also suffer in silence, overwhelmed by negative feelings, but also afraid to admit to the struggles they are facing due to the fear or shame of what others might think if they 'aren’t coping,'" Kate said.
"Some of this fear is about the pressure to be a perfect parent; pretending we're all coping perfectly and loving every minute of it. It's right to talk about motherhood as a wonderful thing, but we also need to talk about its stresses and strains. It’s OK not to find it easy. Asking for help should not be seen as a sign of weakness," she continued.
Tell us again why she can't be the next queen? What is this "line of ascendancy" of which you speak?
Kate added, "If any of us caught a fever during pregnancy, we would seek advice and support from a doctor. Getting help with our mental health is no different — our children need us to look after ourselves and get the support we need.
"Conversations are crucial for mental wellbeing and they should be part of everyday family life. Talking about a problem with a friend or another trusted person can be the beginning of getting better," she said. "This week, as we look forward to Mother’s Day, I would love to see everyone celebrate and value the fundamental importance that mothers play in family life."