Two and a half years ago, I watched with a mixture of excitement and annoyance as Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement. I may have once wanted to marry Wills myself (what Canadian girl growing up in the '80s didn't?), but I was thrilled at the promise of a royal wedding to rival Di and Charles' for my generation.
I myself was in the middle of planning my own wedding, and therein lay the (admittedly entirely self-aborbed) annoyance -- what if those two got married the same day as me, and overshadowed my nuptials? But as it turned out, they wed three weeks after me, so instead of gritting my teeth, I got to wake up at 4 a.m. on April 29 and happily watch as their stunning wedding took place.
Now, our paths have crossed again, as Kate (who I feel I can call that because I kind of consider her a pal) becomes a mom. My own bundle of joy/spit up arrived just over four months ago, and while I didn't have to bear with the scrutiny of the world through every step of my pregnancy, our milestones happened closely enough that I feel qualified to offer some advice. It's a compendium of things I've learned on my own and things other, wiser parents, have passed along that I've found useful. Because no matter how much fame or money you have, there are certain truths of motherhood that are simply unavoidable.
#1: There's no such thing as too much help. There's a tendency for new moms to want to do everything themselves, and you're going to have plenty of offers of assistance -- so take them up on it. Babies love hanging out with their parents (and vice versa), but there will be lots of times when you'll wish for another set of hands, so if they're available, use them. In particular, make sure the grandparents, aunts and uncles get in quality time from the get go. While my dad may not be heir to any thrones, it's pretty funny to see him play peek-a-boo, so you can bet Charles will be good for a laugh or two there.
#2: Dad is awesome at stuff too. Wills is not only a bonafide life saver, but a guy who has expressed his excitement at being a dad many times. Let him get involved right away, whether it's changing diapers or washing bottles. Oh, who I am kidding? Just be sure to let him do things his own way with the kid, even if your mom instincts are screaming "but that's wrong!" He'll figure it out eventually, and will feel more confident because of it.
#3: Get out of the house. Whether you're staying at the palace, your parents' house, or your little "shack", you and the baby will benefit from getting out into the world as much as possible. I appreciate this will be more difficult for you than the average mom, given the swarms of fans that await, but take advantage of a royal garden or two and give the kid some air. It's easy to feel happy sticking to where all the clothes, comfortable feeding areas and extra hands are, but you'll both enjoy leaving the walls behind and feeling a semblance of normality (if that even exists in your world) by taking a walk.
#4: Don't be too cool to sing. It's a rare twenty minutes that passes by in my house without a song being made up about anything from how fun it is to fold laundry to washing off my kid's face. Initially, I felt a little foolish rhyming every two sentences and belting out every song from "Grease", but music is magic for babies. The combination of your voice and a melody is often the solution to most anything.
#5: Take videos, as well as pictures. True, this little tot will possibly be the most photographed child in the world, but those professional snaps will hardly be in the albums you'll be embarrassing him/her with down the line. Videos, on the other hand, capture the sweet sounds and movements of babyhood in a way stills just can't, and as a bonus, you can edit a whole bunch together for a -- let's face it -- more interesting take on their life.
#6: Don't feel badly about forgetting things. You've heard all the jokes about "baby brain" already, and while some women experience changes in intellect, all women experience changes in memory. The fact is, you have to make room for caring about a whole other person and all of their various needs and wants, and sometimes, things like the word for that cold soup made with tomatoes (gazpacho, I'm finally able to remember) go out the window. And guess what? It's forgiveable, at least for the first few months.
#7: You can never have enough hair ties. You might have some of the most gorgeous hair in the world, but that baby won't hesitate to grab a clump of it for him/herself at every possible opportunity. Learn to love the ponytail.
#8: It's OK to resent your kid a little. Not all the time, and not even a lot, but since you've always seemed like a pretty down-to-earth person, Kate, you'll appreciate this piece of advice. You obviously wanted this baby (if not the hoopla surrounding his or her birth), and there will be so many moments of joy and happiness and even euphoria. But there will also be moments when you miss being able to be selfish and have your own life, and that is completely normal. In fact, marrying into the royal family might just have prepared you for this better than anything else.
#9: No one crawls down the wedding aisle. As months go by and the baby is meant to hit various milestones, you'll find yourself worrying that perhaps they aren't happening soon enough, or that the baby is depending too much on, say, a pacifier to get to sleep. It's tough to believe when staring into the eyes of an infant, but apparently babies do grow up and learn as adults -- so just remember to have perspective on any particular challenge and know it won't last forever.
#10: A happy mommy means a happy baby. As I mentioned before, even the most famous of moms isn't immune from everything, and one thing you may feel right away is an unassailable guilt. Whether it's because the baby cries all the time, or the diaper leaks whenever you put it on, or your milk hasn't come in, you will feel like you're doing something wrong for the first little while, and you'll feel awful about it. But the truth is, your kid is going to pick up on how you're feeling way quicker than he/she will care that their clothes aren't buttoned properly, and that will make all the difference. If you're comfortable, the kid is far more comfortable.