Brianna Heldt is a writer, speaker, and radio show host. She blogs at www.briannaheldt.com, has been a featured guest on BBC Radio, and her work can regularly be found in other online publications as well. A convert to the Catholic Church, Brianna explores topics ranging from faith and social issues to adoption and large family life. She and her husband make their home in Denver, along with their eight children.
I was, like many of you, delighted to hear that everyone’s favorite duke and duchess are expecting their third child. Kate Middleton and Prince William are having a baby, which means that Prince George and Princess Charlotte are gaining another sibling. Let copious amounts of royal cuteness ensue!
Most of the time, I confess that I’m not much for celebrity news. I generally could not care less about what’s going on with this or that famous person, their marriage, or their kids. Because, let’s be honest—the vast majority of the news is so ridiculous (and predictable!) that it’s really just not worth anyone’s time.
But for me, the Royal Family is different. I’m not completely immune to celebrity awe, as it turns out, because I’ve been intrigued by Kate Middleton ever since her betrothal to the prince was announced. (Being a Downton Abbey fan might also have something to do with it. Just saying.) It’s just plain hard not to like her, from her lovely dresses and the way she carries herself, to the idyllic photos of her and her children. Kate is, I think, a picture of femininity—which really stands out in an age where we are told that gender and sex are fluid, that women are more or less the same as men, and that motherhood is for losers who don’t have anything better to do with their brains.
Granted, I know I am nothing like Kate when I’m herding my own posse of kids from place to place. I don’t have a nanny, a driver, or even a housekeeper. I don’t own any fashionable hats, and my 14-month-old is still nursing like a thirsty fiend so I can’t exactly wear a dress because, well, access. My daily life reads less like a British fairytale, and more like some sort of sympathy-inducing comedy, where the main character chases after her four-year-old who’s disappeared into the clothing racks yet again, and attends hours-long IEP meetings that include discussion about quirky bathroom habits.
Somehow though, I can still really appreciate the picturesque charm and simple beauty of the Royal Family’s public image. Is it the fact that they represent tradition and decorum, an ideal standard for family life, or simply the clear-cut gender roles of a bygone era? I’m not entirely sure. But it is refreshing, regardless the reason, to see such a family living out their lives and, now, adding yet another child into the mix. Perhaps Kate Middleton gives the rest of us toddler-wrangling mothers hope that there is dignity in our vocation, after all, and that even after giving birth we are still respectable, honorable, and feminine ladies.
It’s been interesting to see the happy reaction of Catholics to the news of Kate’s pregnancy. The littlest royal must somehow lend credence to those of us who remain open to children, who endure the uncomfortable side-eyes at the grocery store, and continue to hear the tired question of, “aren’t you done yet?” Considering that the birthrate in the United Kingdom is around 1.81 births per woman, we see that Kate and William are bucking societal trends and cultural norms, and we like it, maybe because we’re doing the same thing over here.
American women who remain open to life do so in the face of scrutiny, skepticism, and sometimes even outright hostility. Whether you have many children or few, if you are not using artificial birth control (or at least following strict NFP protocols to avoid having more than a couple of children), you are an outlier. Being a mother is difficult enough, but it becomes even harder when your choices run counter to what is considered acceptable in 2017.
The modern assumption is, of course, that to devote one’s life to motherhood diminishes a woman’s purpose. Furthermore, surely it is bad for children to have more than one or two siblings, and places an insurmountably negative strain on a marriage to add another son or daughter to the family. Children are expensive, loud, and inconvenient. They demand every last bit of you, and then some. Why oh why would anyone—living in a time and place with countless options of birth control available to them—opt out of contraception? And have what amounts to an open-door-policy for babies, instead?
While I don’t know what motivated Cambridge’s favorite couple to go for baby number three, I do know that the Catholic Church tells us that one of the primary ends of marriage is, indeed, the procreation and education of children. I know that each and every one of our babies has been an immense gift and blessing. I know that I have been called to the vocation of marriage, and that there is nothing even remotely diminishing or degrading about God’s purpose for me. I know that even though I spend my days doing small and typically unseen things—laundry, housework, explaining what an indirect object is—I am somehow living up to my human dignity. I know that while I will never be world-famous, or photographed with my perfectly groomed children while wearing a matching dress and hat, I am living my life in precisely the way God wants me to.
So, from one mom to another, I send my best wishes and regards to Duchess Kate Middleton, on the occasion of her latest pregnancy. She is already generating some of that good, old-fashioned, combox push-back for her reproductive choices, and I hope she ignores it! Babies are blessings, and designed to be not only the fruit of a loving marriage but also a good thing for a marriage. She has my mad respect for embodying not only the height of class and traditional femininity, but also the grace and strength of a life given to motherhood.
Did I mention I really kind of love the Royal Family?