Harry and Meg Part 2

The other day I bumped into an old work collegaue at the beach. We chatted, our conversation turned to work and they were surprised when I said I had taken the year off.  Intially, I explained my decision as it was – based on my desire to be with my children. Following the silence I began to pad out the reason making which fed my decision; filling in what I thought were gaps, with justifications based on the pandemic, my dissatisfaction with the education system and a need to reestablish my place within it.
This seemed to generate more response and so eased what I thought was tension but I came away annoyed with myself. Why did I do that? Was it not enough just to say it as it was – I want to be with my children.
Why did I feel the need to provide an explanation?

I considered this in light of a previous article, Motherhood and Society, discussing the importance we attach in our culture to being stay at home Mum’s. My thoughts then wandered to Meghan and Harry and the initial decision that they made to step back from Royal Life. I remember when they made the announcement and I had nodded to myself. A strong woman empowered, willing and wanting to raise her child herself, away from wider world’s expectations. A woman who is prepared to stand up for her child and how she perceived Motherhood. Admiring her choice I wrote about it and then of course I made my own choices regarding what I felt appropriate for my family’s life. I half kept an eye out for how they were getting on, interested in how it might pan out for them. 

Then came the aftermath of their decision in all it’s manifestations, the press articles, the  interview with Oprah, the book, potential show, podcast and I felt cross, as apart from anything else, in doing all of this, they  seemed to have removed themselves from their original intention.

It’s difficult to avoid emotion laid commentary on this. Social media is spilling with often vile opinion. The couple in return have offered more fuel. Reading through some of it, I do not think it is for us to discuss whether or not Meghan had a miscarriage and certainly not to  question how she grieves. Neither is it possible to know , through endless Twitter threads who is arguing with who and for what reason. The conversation, in so far as you can call it that is a collection of venemous statements regarding aspects of their life. The only hard facts seem to be are that they gave up their role, moved to the US, did an interview, released a book, are about to release another book and have discussed a tv deal. Everything else is speculative.

What stands out though is the lack of reference to the loss of the original intention. Which is a shame because,  the intention was admirable. To raise their child how they wished, away from the public eye and by themselves rather than as is traditional in the royal family, in a shared way and very much in the public domain.   It must have been tricky, especially for Harry. Harry is the person whose life has unequivocally been turned upside down.

Unfortunately, though they have not achieved   a life outside the public domain as they suggested. Instead, they have very much placed themselves in the media spotlight seeking, it seems to follow it where ever they can , no channel left untouched. What is more unfortunate,  rather than celebrating their lives with their young family they appear to want to share personal information about their past which can only be interpreted as an attack.  It could and has also been interpreted as the real reason for their decision, rather than as they suggested, to raise their children in the way that they wished to. Which is perhaps what people have reacted to, the realisation that they have been deceived.

Or have they?

Reflecting on my sudden anxiety at the beach – that I was not understood, that I was being flimsy and perhaps had gone slightly mad at giving up what was actually shaping up to be a promising career-  perhaps Meghan and Harry  reacted in the same way. They paniced at silence and then the rush of opinion and rather than sit with their decision, they padded it out.

While I believe that Harry has struggled with his family and there are some unhealthy relations and perhaps some difficult situations emerged for Harry and Meghan I just wonder about the origins of their tell all resolve. Perhaps they felt the need like I did at the beach to justify themselves and  their decision to the listening world. Perhaps they felt their original reason for giving it all up,   wasn’t enough. Perhaps we felt it wasn’t enough and in probing we prompted further defense. So they expanded their reasoning.
They didn’t need to. Their original explaination was sufficient.

Or perhaps they don’t care. Perhaps it does make them feel better. I don’t know and neither do you. The only thing I do know is that I did admire their decision but I am not so keen on the follow ups.

Smallest starts school in two days and I have waited for the follow up feeling to my decision to hit me; for the what did you do, what were you thinking voice to emerge regarding my own decision.  However I remain still and feel quietly confident that my decision was exactly what we needed as a family. Perhaps it’s time for a bit of verbal stillness and reflection for the Sussexes.

Of course I can say that now with hindsight – hindsight is a wonderful thing. Particularly when it allows you to say that you were able to judge the needs of your children correctly. It is tricky though to always think carefully  about the impact of decisions on children. In Meg and Harry’s case  theirs will live in the shadow of their attempts at self branding and the reputation that they muster. 

I do genuinely hope that when hindsight  catches up with Meghan and Harry , separately or together, that their hindsight it isn’t too hard for them to face.

Choices

My ears are drawn to the outside which has been quiet of late. A dampened down version of life has been going on and this morning I hear more cars than usual. It signals we are reacting to the news that we might begin to live a bit more freely. For me though this life has been the version of free which I have needed since my youngest child did his version of arriving into this world . Perhaps many have felt the same. A dose of the kind of medicine we are not prescribed by our society.

On one of the final drives home from work pre-Covid 19, I recall cogitating the very same issue; exhausted and aching for some time with my son , I spent the entire week contemplating whether I should take a different job which demands less of his time because I want to be with him. I don’t even work full time.

As I mulled this over on the drive, I met with a thought of a different yet relevant question – was Meghan and Harrys decision to focus on their own lives and especially their sons selfish? Should we care? Should we question the decision that they have made? Perhaps it is out of envy for the fact that they get to make such a decision and that they have support to do so. Perhaps it is due to the fact that they can say, “look I want to put my family first and do you know something? I’m going to do just that”. Perhaps, it is frustration, that Meghan has made a choice to be a Mum and that she is able to devote herself to that role. After all it is the most important role of all. I guess the salience of their predicatment is made brighter to me by my own current dilemma. As a training Educational Psychotherapist with Caspari Foundation, I’m swimming in ideas, strategies and knowledge of the first few years of life , the significance of those first years and this knowledge has fed my growing anxiety towards what should be my only responsibility.

And so my question is why do we sacrifice motherhood and am I wrong for doing it?

Searching for the answer in my mind, I realise is a fruitless endeavour as I will always come up with the same answer- I need to work- what else can I do? I need to show that … well, I don’t know what I need to show, to prove I can do something , that I am someone. Despite being something and someone.

If I weren’t single then perhaps the guilt would not burn so brightly.

Guilt and the feeling that I still hold since the day I left him at Nursery: separation anxiety. When the readiness to be parted has not quite been achieved and our own magical mechanism , designed to prevent us from parting before its too early, has been ignored. My desire to stay at home was censored; spoken allowed it met with tousle and I felt belittled by a society which sees no real value in its origin. It is designed to stop us from decaying from the start, from preventing us from reaching what we can be, by allowing us to function as effective adults with the ability to relate and be related to.

So in answer to your question , should I feel guilty? Yes I should. Should I be at home. Yes I should.

But do i do anything about it?

No……..

Unfortunately we live in a society that just doesn’t see the value in how important it is to be a mother.