The memes began just after Kate Middleton walked out of the hospital with her third baby. You probably saw them on Instagram or Facebook.
On one side of the meme is a picture of Kate, looking as fabulous as usual. She’s wearing one of her designer dresses (which easily masks her postpartum body), the baby nestled in the crook of her arm, her hair flowing around her shoulders in its usual lazy curls. The caption says, “Kate Middle after having a baby.”
On the other side of the meme is a picture of a hairy ape, or a sweaty, exhausted marathon runner. The caption says, “Me after having a baby.”
I said, “No.”
Moms, stop comparing yourself to other moms. Especially to moms like Kate Middleton.
I didn’t look like Kate Middleton after I had any of my babies either. I may have slipped into my regular jeans after having my first baby. I spent a week in my pajamas after having my last three babies. I also didn’t walk out of the hospital to face a battalion of media cameras and the world’s attention.
If I were Kate Middleton, I’d have a homebirth so I didn’t have to face the crowds when I left the hospital. Or I’d station the National Guard around the entire hospital to keep the media hordes at bay. Or I’d get some friends to stage a fake bombing down the street so I could dash for a darkened limo while everyone was distracted.
I don’t look like Kate Middleton does after having a baby because I don’t have to. I can hide at home for a week with only my baby, my husband, and my other kids (who don’t care if we have pajama day all day every day). I can let my husband or my mother-in-law get the door when friends drop by to leave meals. But if, for some reason, I was going to be the centre of the world’s attention after giving birth… then yes, I’d do my hair and makeup and find a pretty dress. Heck, I’d probably hire someone to come do my hair and makeup for me, because I’m not very good at doing it myself.
So instead of comparing myself to Kate Middleton and coming up short, I say… good for her. She walked out of that hospital to face millions of strangers after having a baby, and she rocked it. She makes all of us moms look good. She makes pregnancy look good, even when she’s dealing with the worst version of morning sickness possible. Kudos to Kate for having one baby, much less three, with all the world watching her and judging her for it.
Maybe you saw those memes on social media, and brushed them off, like I did. Those comparisons between moms are obvious. There are other comparisons I see on social media that are far more subtle, however. Like the pin that promoted the “one thing I did to prevent stretch marks.” That made me stop and say “no” too.
I didn’t do anything to prevent stretch marks. I’ve had five babies now and I don’t have a single stretch mark. So maybe her coconut oil or daily massage or brand-name anti-stretch-mark cream really did help her avoid ugly scars from her pregnancy. Or maybe, like me, she wouldn’t have gotten those stretch marks anyway.
But don’t compare yourself to her either.
Just because you got stretch marks and she didn’t doesn’t mean you did anything wrong or she did anything right. It doesn’t mean that her body is better than yours. It just means you’re different. We’re all different. And that’s good.
I know, as moms, we like to compare ourselves and our kids and our baby gear. We ask our friends how much sleep they’re getting (compared to us) or when their babies learned to crawl (compared to ours). And I know I’m always sharing tips and “what’s worked for me” here on the Koala Mom. But don’t judge yourself and your abilities as a mom by what’s worked for me or for your friends.
We’re all different. What works for me (or your mom or your friend or your cousin’s neighbour’s sister’s daughter) may not work for you.
That’s okay. We’re not all Kate Middleton.
As a mom, you need to figure out what’s best for you and your kids and your family. It can be handy to learn from what other moms do, but don’t compare yourself to them. Comparisons always end up in one person being put down, whether that’s you putting yourself down or you putting another mom down. And moms, we don’t need that. We’re all doing our best, with what we’ve been given. So let’s build each other up instead of comparing ourselves and putting each other down.
Let’s celebrate Kate Middleton and every other celebrity mom who’s rocking her postpartum body, even if ours sags a bit more than we’d like. Let’s celebrate our friend whose baby slept through the night at six weeks, even while ours is still getting up twice a night at two years. Let’s celebrate ourselves for our own little successes, whatever those are. You did something right today. Find it and acknowledge it.
So moms, promise me you’ll stop comparing yourself to other moms. Stop the judging. Just be a mom, and let the other moms (including Kate Middleton) be moms too. ‘Cause we’re all trying to do our best with the life (and the body and the babies) we’ve been given. It may look different for each of us, but we can still celebrate ourselves and our fellow moms.