I’m not at all interested in the Royal Family, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one. But you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard and witnessed the fall out and commentary surrounding Meghan and Harry’s decision to be stepping back as senior members of The Royal Family.
This has clearly been a gendered discussion, where the scrutiny and abuse has been predominately been thrown Meghan’s way. In fact, many have blamed ‘manipulative Meghan’ for the ‘Royal Rift’. Because of course, it’s always her fault and he is just a victim, right?
Change Requires Rebellion: For Meghan and Mothers
This isn’t new. There is a certain social script for success and belonging and veering away from that will see you reprimanded and sanctioned in some way.
But part of our progression as a society has always been through breaking and rebelling against these social scripts. This is particularly the case for women as they confront patriarchal culture.
Meghan is pushing back against ‘tradition’ in the same way that mothers push back at ‘traditions’.
Putting ourselves first is often seen as a radical act as women and as mothers, who are seen as (and expected to be) the emotional gatekeepers and caregivers within our community.
Relationships are Important, But at What Cost?
Yes the relationships we hold with our loved ones are incredibly powerful, and they influence WHO we are. As human beings, we are relational creatures, and our relationships with others and sense of belonging is vitally important for our health and happiness.
However, what is also vitally important for our health and happiness is living a purposeful and authentic life where you can exercise as much autonomy and control as your socioeconomic circumstances will allow.
It is okay and actually important to make choices that may disappoint other people, if it is part of you standing in your own truth and authenticity.
As a woman, you do not exist to serve the needs and desires of other people: including your family.
Your choices, wants, wishes, desires, dreams, and goals matter too.
You cannot let fear of disappointing someone else stand in the way of living your life.
Living our life according to the desires and expectations of others is not only a disservice to ourselves, it is actually a disservice to them. Because despite feeling as though you can hold all of this together, that you can keep pedaling to keep your head above water while below the surface your legs are wearily and frantically racing to keep up, you will build resentment towards those who you feel obligated towards.
Meghan’s Mother of a Sacrifice
This applies to motherhood too.
There is only so long that we can keep juggling all of the balls in the air until our arms shake from exhaustion and a ball drops. We don’t do anyone any favours when we martyr ourselves. It is a short term sacrifice for a long term loss.
Do you know the problem that women, mothers, and Meghan all face?
- There is no ‘right’ choice.
- There is no way to ‘win’.
- We always seem to lose one way or another, regardless of how we live and the choices we make.
When you martyr yourself, when you put everyone first before you, when you quieten your voice, when you nod along, when you keep saying ‘yes’, when you shrink back and don’t cause any issues and keep up with tradition and keep it all going without ever stopping… then at some point you will fall apart. At some point you will start to resent this work. You will feel emptied and drained.
The truth is: it wouldn’t matter what Meghan did or didn’t do, she would never be good enough. She didn’t fit the idealized, white, image of what it means to be part of the Royal Family.
Just as so many mothers feel they will never be good enough.
Because they don’t fit the image of the ‘perfect mother’. According to our social script, the perfect mother never burns out. She always comes last. She anticipates and responds to needs before they even arise. She serves her community. She’s there for her friends. She is the backbone of the family. She has it all, she does it all, and not only that: she does it happily with a smile. She wants to do it all.
The Myth of Perfection
Except she can’t. Because the perfect mother doesn’t exist. The perfect Royal Family member also doesn’t exist.
The fictional character that exists in our minds, in our culture, and in our media, cannot be a real life human being. Human beings are inherently flawed, dynamic, complex, and layered creatures. When we set our standard as being one of perfection as a wife or mother or Royal (and any other role, actually) then we are setting ourselves up to fail and fall short.
Accepting being ‘good enough’ as we are means saying ‘no’. Stepping back. Putting ourselves first occasionally. These are not only compassionate acts towards ourselves: but are compassionate act for our children.
The Gift of Imperfection for Meghan and Mothers
When we show our children that we accept ourselves for all of who we are, and stand proudly and confidently in this, we show them that we will accept and love all of who they are, even their imperfections. You show them that they don’t have to slice away and quell pieces of themselves in order to be accepted and loved. That traditions do not matter more than they do.
This is what Meghan is showing her child. That they don’t have to tolerate being treated as less than. That they have a voice and a Self that is not contingent on the accepting opinions of others, and they do not have to live their lives in service of other people’s wishes.
I think this is a pretty incredible message to be sending, and it’s this messaging that I hope mothers can hear and embrace.
That you are good enough, and that YOU matter.