If the last nine months have taught us anything, it’s that Royal Baby Fever is a real thing. Princess Kate has most likely amassed more headlines than any other woman when it comes to her pregnancy. And, with the Royal Baby having finally descended upon us, I have a feeling that the royal family will not be out of the spotlight anytime soon. It seems as if everyone has a stake in this baby.
In fact, many people have already doled out copious amounts of advice to Princess Kate, from Snooki to baseball player David Ortiz. Many websites and morning shows have also chimed in with their own cutesy bits of mothering advice for Kate. And, that’s sweet in all, but in reality, it’s all just show for us. None of this — and I hate to burst your bubble — will actually impact Kate or Will when it comes to their new baby boy.
Allow me to explain. Last month, I attended an academic conference on motherhood. There were a number of fabulous speakers, and over the course of three days I listened to many talks on pop culture and motherhood in particular. One person who got name dropped repeatedly was Princess Kate. She’s the perfect example of somebody who has to deal with having millions of people people comment on, speculate about, and pick apart every aspect of her pregnancy, and now motherhood. One keynote speaker, May Friedman, compared Princess Kate and Mama June from “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” and really got me thinking.
Friedman used her time to show clips of “Honey Boo Boo”, as well as tabloid magazine headlines of Princess Kate to show how the media shapes, forms, and edits these two very different narratives of motherhood. The overall takeaway that we’re supposed to absorb is that Princess Kate’s pregnancy and motherhood is the desired option, the one we purportedly aspire to. Mama June is presented as the other, less desirable, more easily made-fun-of version. Yet between these two, when it comes down to it, despite the lack of decorum, lineage, and family jewels, Mama June is the one that has much more agency when it comes to living her own life.
Regardless of — or because of, let’s be honest — her station in life, Princess Kate’s every move is being watched, scrutinized and judged, for better or worse. She will even be judged for things well beyond her control. The public feels a sense of ownership over the royal family, and, regardless of how ridiculous it is, there are expectations and ideals to live up to (if “The Princess Diaries” taught me anything), even as the mother of a newborn. So, for all the well-intentioned advice everyone is throwing at Princess Kate, they might as well be throwing it down the drain for the good it would do directly to the royal family. There is most likely already a prescribed set of rules and regulations for Kate and her little baby boy to live within. And, it can’t be forgotten that much of the newborn advice many seasoned mothers suggest (“nap when the baby does!”) is useless when we’re talking about a real life actual princess. With like, handmaidens and stuff.
So, knowing that Kate will never heed, much less hear of any of this advice, I’m still going to throw my two cents in (okay, three cents):
1. Lazy Parenting: Just do it. Granted, as a princess, there’s only so much lazing about that can occur. But for us mere common folk, this form of parenting is pretty useful.
2. The Polite Brush Off: My assumption is that Kate is already quite skilled in the art of the polite brush off, but it never hurts to be prepared. Everyone, and I mean everyone, from the cashier at the grocery store to the barista at your favorite coffee shop to the person standing behind you in line at the bank, has a childrearing tip for you. And they are 100 percent certain you want to hear it. Granted, Kate won’t be encountering any of these people, but I’m sure some random Baronesses or Countesses will chime in instead. My advice? A polite smile and a “Thank you, we’ll keep that in mind” does wonders. Most likely you’re already counting the ways you’ll never do what they suggested, but unless you want to get into a judgment-filled argument, the polite brush off is your best best.
3. Once You’ve Got It All Figured Out, It’s All Going to Change: If I’ve learned anything doing this whole parenting gig, it’s that there’s no one way to solve a parenting problem, the same thing doesn’t work for everyone, and once you’ve finally figured out a solution, something new is going to pop up. Parenting is a constant state of flux. Sometimes that state is really awesome, easy going, and totally enjoyable. Other times you’re pulling your hair out in frustration, wondering if you’re the worst parent ever. Most of the times, it’s a happy medium.
Above all, I hope Kate is able to find space amidst the chaos, media circus, and royal expectations to truly relish this time. Motherhood may be different for everyone and despite knowing what she’ll be up against in the years to come, I hope Kate is able to find a way to enjoy it, royal poops and all.