Opting Out of Mommy Angst in Three Easy Steps

by | May 10, 2015 | Parenting, Things I Think | 31 comments

The week leading up to Mother’s Day was certainly brightened for me by the news of the birth of baby Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. I’m a proud American and whatnot, but my love of babies, fanciness, and tradition can’t help but rejoice in a royal baby announcement.

I also, personally, got a kick out of the fact that Her Royal Highness Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was in just as big a hurry to get out of the hospital as I always am.

The British Monarchy

So, I shared this article on the Facebook page:

How did Kate Middleton look this amazing 10 hours after having a baby?

and was intrigued by the resulting discussion in the comments.

  • Some moms agreed with me that hospitals are a terrible place to get some rest after having had a baby, what with all the constant taking of one’s blood pressure and the wanting to know how much one peed.
  • Some moms had needed to stay in the hospital for a long time whether they liked it or not, because of c-sections, or other complications.
  • Some moms had loved every minute of their hospitals stays and lobbied for an extra day or two if they could get it, to enjoy not having to cook or clean or look after the other kiddos.
  • Some moms said that it was fine for Kate to go home, because she has “all that help.”
  • Some moms agreed with me that Kate looked just lovely, and that I really need a dress a LOT like that.
  • Some moms had had the experience of looking and feeling pretty darn good right after having a baby.
  • Some moms reported feeling NOT glamorous OR comfortable after childbirth.
  • Some moms said of course Kate looked like that, because she has professionals to work on her.
  • Some moms said that obviously Kate felt horrible and gross but was being forced by the royal family to have her hair and makeup done and pose for reporters even though she should get to be relaxing in her hospital bed in stretchy pants.
  • One mom thought we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that Kate’s whole pregnancy had been fake.

It was like a tiny little microcosm of the “Mommy Wars.” All over a picture of a baby princess.

It made me think of all the other angsty combox mommy debates: epidurals, co-sleeping, homeschooling, cooking from scratch, pinterest projects, working outside the home. Moms don’t lack for things to worry about.

If I may, I’ll just share my personal experience for a moment. . .

My labors have run the gamut from 50 hours of silly sputtering to an hour and a half of intense intenseness. Labor hurts, but it’s been manageable for me without interventions each time. The husband and I have always been able to talk and laugh right up until the transition to pushing at which point I kinda lose it. But, hey, it’s almost over by that point anyway.

Then, it IS over, aaaannnnddd . . . I have always felt pretty good. I’ve always been physically able to get up and walk right away, and get to the bathroom all by myself. I’d walk to the recovery room, but they never let me.

I think the longest I’ve ever stayed in the hospital after giving birth is fifteen hours, the shortest was six.

I do not like hospitals. I don’t like being bossed around by nurses. I don’t like being woken up by nurses. I feel uncomfortable there. Giving birth in a hospital is the solution that works best for our family, because reasons. But I don’t want to stay there any longer than I have to.

I have never looked as cute as Kate did leaving the hospital. But I always bring “real” clothes to wear home.

And while I don’t know the Duchess personally, it seems reasonable to assume that she also had a manageable time of labor and delivery, and was perfectly comfortable leaving the hospital, and is not one to let having a baby interfere with being her very fashionable self.

So here’s the thing. And I hope the Duchess will forgive my impertinence, but I’m going to go ahead and speak for her too when I say that we both totally believe that your labor and delivery was the WORST and that there was NO WAY you were going anywhere for many days.

We are totally cool with that.

YOU love the hospital. You want to stay there until it’s closing time and they kick you out. We are cool with that.

I will go so far as to say that we are cool with the other childbirth, sleep-system, schooling, crafting, and career-type mothering decisions you’ve made as well. Even if they are different than the ones we’ve made.

Mothering is hard. It takes a level of dedication and sacrifice my younger self wouldn’t have even thought was a possibility for me. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how I do this, and there was a time when I worried if how I was doing things was the best way, or worried if people around me were doing things differently. But I really think most of that worrying and wondering was just my own insecurity. These days, I’m confident in what works for my family. And that means I don’t have to spend time concerned about how other people do it. Advice and ideas? Yes. Comparisons and angst? Nope.


1. I’ve come to understand that people are different from one another. They are formed by different circumstances and experiences, motivated by different loves and fears, and talented in different ways.

2. I’ve come to realize that another person’s experience of a particular situation in no way de-legitimizes my own contrary experience.

3. I’ve learned to let go of the angst: These days, I . . . Evaluate my options. Make a decision. Own it. Repeat as necessary.

I’m opting out of the Mommy Wars. And I’m hoping that this blog is a place where I share what works for me, but don’t de-value what works for you.

So, there ya go. Now that that’s all taken care of I will wish you and yours the happiest of Mother’s Days. Own it.

p.s. If this is a sad day for you because you struggle with infertility, subfertility, or miscarriages, or you have given a baby up for adoption, or you’ve had an abortion, or you have a difficult relationship with your mother or your children, or you’ve lost your mother, or you’ve lost a child . . . please know that lots of people are praying for your comfort and healing today.

Updated to add a little What I Wore Sunday . . .

We had breakfast at home, then went to Mass, then hit up Krispy Kreme.

Betty made me this necklace! Isn’t it awesome? And speaking of Betty, her black eye (from getting hit right in the eye by a pitch last week) has a Pinterest-worthy smoky-eye thing going on.

This was yesterday, it’s even deeper today.

Anyway, Happy Mother’s Day all!


    • Kendra

      Hah. Yep. I like how yours is all science-y, and mine has retro housewives. Different!

  1. Anonymous

    I love this. And I am trying to opt out, too. I can live with every choice we have made as a family except me working outside the home. But, I am getting there.


  2. Laura @ Mothering Spirit

    Yes!! You nailed it, Kendra. Love every word of this. So positive and welcoming. I'm so glad I read this to kick off my Mother's Day. Thank you!

  3. Sophie שרה Golden

    Happy Mother's day Kendra and everyone!!!

    Absolutely agree with all three.

    I don't know if you manage this time (maybe with your ninth?), but you should come over to Germany and have a baby here 😆 we are totally allowed to walk to the recovery room after 2 hours from giving birth :0) bossy nurses? What's that all about? No-one will bother if you don't call them except the obligatory checking of temperature and baby's heart beats. Ok, I know, this place is rough.

    • Kendra

      I would totally be down for the Angelina Jolie give birth in a foreign country thing. 🙂

  4. Ashley Sue

    Happy Mother's Day!

    I really enjoyed this! I may even want to pass it around to the Moms' club where I live. 😉

  5. Tori

    I think you are succeeding at the whole "this is our way but yours is fine, too" thing. We happen to agree on a lot, but I've never felt judged when you write about areas where we differ. Your efforts to make everyone welcome really come through. And I guess I like to think I've gotten better at stepping back and saying "I see why that works for them and why it wouldn't work for us, and that's okay." Bravo on keeping things in the realms of both common sense and charity. They can go together!

  6. Amanda

    Every year I'm a mother it gets a little easier to follow your advice here 🙂

    Also, man I wish they'd let me leave a hospital in under 24 hours!

  7. Erin Franco

    Can I just say THANK YOU FOR BEING BALANCED.:) That kind of voice is so needed on the mommy blogosphere. I read your blog and recommend it to Catholic and Christian friends alike because I know you will encourage them, bring them down to earth, diffuse their anxiety, make them laugh, and share good advice and your own experience without putting down others. Love it. Will keep coming back. Please keep writing and rocking it out here on the blog. 🙂

  8. Jenny

    Love this. I was scratching my head for poor Kate because last time it was Bellygate, and this time she looked too hot? WTH, internet, make up your mind about how this poor creature is supposed to handle child birthing!

    Happy mother's day 🙂

  9. Ali

    Thanks for posting this! I struggle with mommy angst a lot. I think it is part my own insecurities and part the current culture of living every parenting decision in the public eye. (Quitting FB has helped a lot.)
    I think you do a wonderful job of presenting your family culture and practices without implying that this is the way it needs to be. I am inspired by your posts and appreciate that you often stress that the things you do now evolved over time.
    Happy Mother's Day!

  10. Anna

    I'm new at all of this, with a 15 month old girl and another girl on the way due in September, and noticed early on that I love and relish all the decision-making involved with having a babies and raising them. I also noticed shortly later that what helps me and works for me might be a total disaster for someone else. The uniqueness of moms' experiences really struck me. This uniqueness seems to be connected to the way women are specialized creatures by design and that culture is built up through this distinctiveness. In this way, men can be seen as the more standardized creature (support, protect, provide, lead, etc.) and provide the frameworks for each unique family. Thus, culture builds up through the interaction of the different unique families, which in the best cases is pleasurable and fun. For example, going to someone's house for dinner provides an opportunity for encountering another family's culture and appreciating it. Seeing "how they do it" is an opportunity for growth and grace and the visiting family can take or leave it for themselves without feeling pressured at all. That is what makes visiting other famlies fun. The visited family in turn feels seen. This is my view of families, their interactions, and the ultimate development of culture in a society. It is a wonderful thing.

  11. Alicia Copley

    That necklace is great! I was actually admiring yesterday in your facebook WIWS pic. Nice job, Betty!

  12. Athena Carson

    I was also very excited about the royal baby – and I am so happy for Kate that she always looks fabulous! They have such a beautiful family and they handle the spotlight so well.

    When I had my third, as they were cleaning me up I asked, "How soon can I go home?" Unfortunately I had to wait at least 25 hours …. the longest 25 hours ever. I felt like I was being released from jail when I walked out from the hospital.

  13. Go Bluejays!

    This line is hilarious!
    Giving birth in a hospital is the solution that works best for our family, because reasons.

  14. Go Bluejays!

    Kendra, this is a beautiful article. Thank you so much for affirming our God-given differences. The question that comes up in my mind after reading it is where do we draw the line and make distinctions? I often want to be tolerant, because it is the p.c. thing to do and because it is what I want to have myself when others judge me. But I always feel like it can easily become "well, abortion was right for me. you have to respect that" etc. What do you think? Please share your thoughts on how we can be tolerant and respect that all women are different but that there are things that are black and white?

    • Kati

      You asked Kendra to respond, not me, but I'm going to throw this out anyway: I think the key question is, are we talking about a moral issue, or an issue on which (as K would said), good Catholics (and even non Catholics!) can disagree? The moral questions are BIG, but not necessarily a daily occurrence, whereas the pregnancy/birth/parenting/family questions are not moral issues but very present for most of us. So, if we're talking about a moral issue, I don't have to acknowledge the opposing choice as valid, because there is an objective truth. But there is not objective truth (in general) in whether to get an epidural – whether to sleep train – whether to work from home, or outside your home, or only with your family – whether to homeschool or public school or parochial school – etc. etc. etc. That's the big distinction.

      (I do hope Kendra will tell us what she thinks, since, you know, it's her blog and I just hijacked your comment with my reply 🙂

    • Kendra

      Yes, Kati, I think that's it exactly. (And I love it when people jump in and answer questions, since I can't always get to the computer to answer right away.)

  15. Kate

    This was great! I know most of the reactions are coming from a place of insecurity about our own decisions. One thing I am learning more and more as a relatively new mom, is to own my decisions especially as a parent. As a parent we are responsible for the salvation of our children, and we should be making our decisions based on that. Circumstances dictate some "choices" for some families, but if we are all keeping that ultimate goal in mind, we are all on the same page.

  16. Jenny Cook

    "We've found that ______ works best for our family, because, reasons." Best. Thing. Ever.
    Thanks for your awesome article and wonderful perspective, as always!

  17. Kathleen

    So I love how Kate went all glam on her postpartum hospital exit. I'm giving birth sometime this week, and I'm totally inspired to pack a curling iron, some bronzer and wear heels. I will have to draw the line on the white/lightyellow shift dress, because mesh underwear.. But seriously I will actually have time to pamper myself in the hospital and once I get home I'll be looking like a disaster for weeks… Might as well get a nice photo op before the real chaos of life takes hold…

    • silicasandra

      For my second birth, I totally bought Depends so I could avoid the mesh underwear (I was shocked when they handed it to me the first time. Like, what is this for, exactly?) A trial pack was perfect for the changing size of my belly, it held the cold packs/frozen pads in nicely, no mess, and with a comfy postpartum outfit you couldn't tell I had them on at all.

  18. Sarah

    Interesting. I was part of that thread. I don't know if I got a chance to read all the comments, but I didn't perceive it to be a Mommy War situation. I am one who loves my hospital stay. I also looked awesome after both births, if I do say so. I don't doubt the duchess a) really had a baby haha b) might have had an easy delivery, easier than mine or maybe harder than mine, c) really looked that awesome but also d) we know for a fact she had professional stylists helping for the cameras because they made the news. I would have personal professional stylists too if I was on camera all the time (Heck, I'd have professional stylists now regardless of cameras if they were in the budget!). Good for her. I am epidural-loving, hospital-staying momma who loves being pregnant and loves all the stuff that comes with having babies. Some things come extra easy for me and some things are extra hard… and it's not hard to believe that it's different for other women!

    • Kendra

      No, you're right. The CAY Facebook thread was mostly angst-free. Mostly. There were other blog posts going around Facebook, though, that basically said "let me tell you how awful childbirth REALLY IS and how Kate could not possibly be anything but totally miserable right now." I just didn't want to link to those, because I dislike sending traffic to posts I disagree with. Ya know, if you don't have anything nice to say and all that. 🙂

  19. Mandi

    I thought pretty much the same thing as you – I didn't look great post-childbirth, but the birthing process wasn't horrible and if I had wanted to look good (and had stylists!), I probably could have. We went home 6 hours after Lucia was born and I wore sweatpants, didn't even shower until the next day, my hair was horrible from being in and out of a tub and shower and sweaty. But I felt, well, pretty normal. I could walk around just fine. I was tired, but not horribly so. I know not all birth goes that way, but Kate Middleton's certainly could have. It's within the realm of possibilities and, in fact, is probably what likely happened given the fact that she left the hospital, was walking normal, and looked good.

    Honestly, to me it seemed like one element of the culture of death (or at least a culture that doesn't support babies and children) that some people insist that you HAVE TO feel horrible and look horrible and be miserable after having a baby. Scare tactics, maybe?

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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