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Are you okay?

Journalist Tom Bradby recently scored quite a candid interview for ITV with the ever-so-popular Harry and Meghan on the subject of their South African tour. Most interestingly, some of the personal questions Bradby managed to sneak in with baby Archie’s mum were on the subject of her postpartum experiences.

Bless Meghan. Instead of stoically retreating when Bradby asked about the stress of pregnancy and new motherhood, she nailed it with a truthful answer. And, perhaps because of personal experiences of his own or just good intuition, Bradby knew exactly what she meant.

Meghan’s honesty and forthright reply—“Thank you for asking. Not many people have asked if I’m okay, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes”—said so much more than her actual words. Naturally, her answer hit a chord with women around the world and went viral. And, I venture to say, did more for mothers around the world
than she can imagine.

The thing is, whether we’re caring for a newborn, toddler or pre-teen, the often unrelenting emotion, exhaustion and vulnerability that comes with motherhood is usually kept behind closed doors. Like Meghan, many of us have had times when, as new mothers and even beyond, we’ve had to bravely keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on. At home, at work, with the in-laws or
in public; the criticism, wise advice and sometimes debilitating stresses or challenges of raising children stay carefully under the radar for all sorts of reasons.

Even in this day and age, with dads stepping up more than ever before, it’s mums who battle postpartum depression and post-pregnancy adjustments, with or without a “Harry” to stand by their sides. And not all busy mums have parents or siblings who are willing or free to stop by and offer a casserole, help with the laundry or let you take an afternoon off.

It seems to me that all new mothers, like Meghan, are on a journey without a handbook. It is at times a lonely trek, with lots to learn and plenty of bumps along the way. But at the end of the day, a mum’s incredible fortitude, unconditional love and resilience in raising her kids is remarkable and worthy of respect.

Like Bradby, let’s not assume.  Let’s make sure the mums we encounter in our everyday lives are comfortable enough, like Meghan was, to give an honest answer to the only question needed:
“Are you okay?”

Caroline Tapp-McDougall

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