The Duchess of Sussex showed a rare moment of vulnerability and she deserves our support as much as any other new parent—no matter her royal status.

By Kristi Pahr
October 21, 2019
Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

At what point does a mother's struggle cease to matter? At what point do we as a society say, "No, sorry, your struggle does not count, go about your business and stop complaining?" Through the lens of our every day lives, saying something like that to any new mom seems unfathomable, doesn't it? As parents, we know how hard it is to welcome a new baby into our lives and most of us are compassionate and empathetic when we learn that one of us is struggling. After all, we've been there. We've felt the despair of late nights and little sleep, the worry, the fear, and the feelings of inadequacy. We know what it's like, so we embrace new parents and offer comfort and care.

This weekend, parents around the world were given the opportunity to comfort and offer support to one of our own. We saw the video, the lost and lonely look on a new mother's face. Her eyes brimming with unshed tears spoke volumes and many of us recognized ourselves in her desperate attempt to maintain her composure, to not break down. To be strong.

And many of us failed her. Many of us turned our backs on her and said her struggle didn't matter. Her pain didn't count. Her heartbreak and fear were not our heartbreak and fear and that she didn't have the right to feel those feelings that so many new parents feel.

Because she's rich. Because she's royalty. Because she has privilege we can only dream of, many people turned their backs on Meghan Markle and said things we know we should never say to a struggling new mother: People told her to suck it up, to get over it. They told her it wasn't that hard and that she didn't deserve our sympathy or compassion.

Now, certainly, not many people can relate to the Duchess of Sussex's life. We don't have servants or a literal prince for a husband. We don't have tea with the queen or travel the world on our own private jets. We also don't have the paparazzi chasing us down, documenting our every move. We don't have national and international news outlets making up lies about us and smearing our names. We don't have an entire country judging every move we make and spewing vitriol at us because we don't fit their idea of what royalty should be because of our nationality and race.

But as parents, we can relate to that exhausted look on her face. We can relate to her sadness and her loneliness and exhaustion. We know how that feels and we know how hard it is. Sure, she has help and opportunities and privilege straight out of a fairytale but that doesn't make her pain count less. It doesn't mean that she can't struggle—especially through nightmarish tabloid attacks—and it doesn't mean we should withdraw the support or compassion that we would offer any other parent expressing their vulnerability.

After her interview with ITV went up online, the internet was immediately full of hot takes on her vulnerability and admission that, yes, it's hard to be a new mom. It's hard to be a new mom under an international microscope. But here's what so many of us will never understand—it's even harder to be a new mom when so many people think you don't deserve compassion. When that vital support new parents count on in the early days is willfully and bitterly taken from you and then you're smeared even more for even daring to be emotional during what is always an emotional time. When parents would historically rally around a new mom, buoy her spirit, and lift her up, some withdrew their support and vilified Duchess Meghan for having the audacity to struggle.

But since sometimes the internet isn't a total garbage fire of insensitivity and bitterness, some folks went against the grain and embraced the royal. Facebook parenting page, Mummy's Gin Fund shared a quote from another parenting page, Mommy Wine Time, offering support to Duchess Meghan and raining down some well-deserved angst and ire on those who minimized her struggle. Mummy's Gin Fund went on to school every single person who had anything negative to say about the Duchess. "You can't post things like #postnatalmentalhealth and #hereforyou and share those 'share this post if parenting is hard and you want your friends to know you are here for them' type memes and then criticize Meghan for speaking honestly about her struggle. You're either there for all mums or you are part of the problem. You either believe that the right to love, support, cheerleading, group hugs, and hand-holding belongs to every parent, or you think that some mums 'deserve' to feel alone because of who they are."

You can't offer or withdraw support from parents based on their income bracket or their station in life. You either support new parents or you don't. If you choose not to support the Duchess of Sussex, you choose not to support other parents. Period.

We support all parents. Meghan, we see you and we love you. Thank you for sharing your story and your vulnerability with us.

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