While there is no doubt I have an abundance of motherly role models all around me, following her epic interview with Oprah Winfrey this past March, I’m finding myself relating to Meghan Markle in a way I wasn’t expecting; I may not know her personally, but she’s inspiring me on a very personal level.
Since moving from London to California with her husband, Prince Harry, and their 2-year-old son Archie, Meghan has spoken openly about the trials and tribulations of her royal experience, and in doing so, left a lasting mark on my motherhood experience. Between her Oprah interview and her many collective interviews over the past year, I’m left feeling compassion and connection with the Duchess, as a fellow mother, wife, and woman. And as I stand on a similar precipice as the Duchess of Sussex—having just added another baby to our family—I find her lessons to be all the more timely and true.
Here are the four motherhood lessons that Meghan Markle recently taught me:
Lesson 1: My Mental Health Can Not Be Ignored
It didn’t take long for me to learn that self care as a mother is a whole lot different than self care pre-babies. Bye-bye mandatory manicures and hello to must-have care routines, quiet time, and lots of hydration (and really good coffee). I’ve come to realize that I can’t function at my best and care for my family unless I take care of myself. And that means caring for my mental health and my physical well-being.
Meghan and Harry have been champions of raising awareness for mental health for years now. And with their departure from royal life and decision to speak openly about their own individual struggles, they became more real to many of us. While I may not be able to relate to Meghan’s royal life difficulties, I can relate to her decision to do what is best for herself, as a wife and mother. I can respect the immense strength it takes to do so, and to talk about it.
Mental health may still be a taboo topic, but Meghan’s bravery in speaking about her own experience and her efforts to care for her mental and emotional health remind me that I must do the same. I deserve it, and so does my family.
Lesson 2: I’m Putting My Children, My Immediate Family, First
When mental health becomes a priority—as it should—then oftentimes, once confusing decisions become much clearer. For Meghan and Harry, one decision was to walk away from the chaos of the crown and to put their immediate family first as they left London.
While most of us may not be walking away from a monarchy anytime soon, we still know the feeling all too well; putting other people before ourselves, from coworkers and neighbors, to friends and extended relatives.
While most of us may not be walking away from a monarchy anytime soon, we still know the feeling [of] … putting other people before ourselves.
Unfortunately, mothers often pay the price, feeling burned out from doing everything for everyone else. In trying to cater to all, we end up doing damage to those most important: the family that lives within our four walls. Meghan, having dealt with an institution and a cruel press, among other factors, learned this the hard way. When trying to appease everyone else first, our immediate families faces the consequences, ranging from minuscule, to much, much more.
As we step away from the families of our childhood and start raising a family of our own, I’m finding a new strength in putting my partner and our children first and foremost. Thank you, Meghan, for that inspiration and motivation (and I’m sure Archie and Lilibet will thank you for it down the road too!).
Lesson 3: Boundaries Protect, Not Push Away
While I may be focusing on my immediate family, motherhood has made me automatically rethink a lot of my relationships as well; I’ve found that there simply isn’t enough time to be as social as I used to. There isn’t time in my days to text or call my girlfriends and chit chat for hours anymore. I’ve found myself with a core group of friends, my ride or die group. Yes, I’ve stayed in touch with others thanks to social media, but when I look at who I really connect and communicate with, it’s a special small group; quality over quantity epitomized.
There isn’t time in my days to text or call my girlfriends and chit chat for hours anymore.
But with Meghan’s recent words about extended family members, friends, and members of “The Firm” (that’s royal speak for the British royal family and their institutions), it has me thinking about taking my review of relationships a step further. There is no better time to re-evaluate the people in your life—and how they contribute to you and your family’s well-being—than when you bring a new baby into the world.
Raising children is hard enough, and there is no space for negative, toxic relationships. Yes, there may be personal or professional dynamics to consider, possible consequences to weigh, but if Meghan (and Harry) can remove themselves from the deepest of ties to do what is needed, so can I.
As I contemplate taking a step back from any sort of toxic relationship in my life, I’ve come to realize that boundaries don’t have to always be negative. Boundaries don’t push away, they protect. They protect what is most important to me, as well as my time, my energy, and my health. Boundaries are a beautiful blessing that motherhood (and Meghan) has shown me.
Lesson 4: There’s Beauty and Bravery in Sharing Our Stories
Meghan is no stranger to the spotlight; she has starred in numerous television shows and has spoken strongly about causes that are important to her over the years. But she’s gotten pretty personal lately. In doing so, she showed me the power in sharing one’s story.
As she spoke with Oprah in March about her experience as a new mother and wife, and as a fast-tracked member of the royal family, mothers all over were nodding their heads, and opening their hearts. Most of us can understand the challenges of joining a family, finding your own solid ground with your partner, and experiencing the joys (as well as the fears) as we bring a new baby into the world. By sharing her story, it reminded us that we all have a story to share, help others, and inspire.
Meghan’s vulnerability reminds us that we’re all searching for the same things: health and happiness for ourselves and our families. Motherhood can often feel lonely and scary, but it becomes a whole lot brighter when we don’t feel alone. So let’s share our stories, let’s connect with and comfort our fellow mamas, no matter what path we’re each taking. At the end of the day, we’re all mothers trying our best (royal title or not).