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Challenge: Digging Deep

Forget Duchess Kate. How Do American Moms Do It?

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Candace Alnaji, American working mom

This past week, the Internet was abuzz with talk of the latest addition to England's royal family. On April 23, the Duchess of Cambridge, known to most as Kate Middleton, gave birth to her third child, a bouncing baby boy.

Then, just seven hours later, the Duchess stepped out of the front doors of London's St. Mary's hospital and immediately onto the world stage. In nude heels, a red dress, and a perfect blowout, she looked more like she was returning from a Mother's Day brunch than the halls of Labor & Delivery.

Immediately, the world sprang forth with all the questions: How? What? Why?

How does she look so amazing a mere seven hours after expelling a baby from her body? What is she, some kind of pregnancy unicorn? And, of course the why — WHY do the royals do this? What purpose does it serve?

Shouts came from all corners of the Internet commenting on the humanity of it all. How could they make her do this, people asked. How could she want to do this, others cried.

Honestly, I'm as baffled as anyone at how amazing this incredible woman looked mere hours after childbirth. I have no idea how, for the third time, she presented as glowing and effortless literally seconds after becoming a new mother.

However, I'm not concerned about whether or not this grand unveiling is a barbaric tradition and you shouldn't be either. At least not if you live in America. Because, let's flip the mirror here for a second and ask: how do YOU do it, American moms?

How do you manage to step out into the world and back to work in your dress and heels a mere six weeks after the birth of a child — sometimes even sooner? How do you manage to make it look so effortless, as if your body hasn't been put through the ringer, your heart turned inside out, and your mind completely bent by sleep deprivation?

Because that's exactly what a large majority of American working mothers do every single day. In terms of postpartum life, six weeks might as well be seven hours, and yet, there you are, putting on a brave smiling face for the world, waving as though you weren't just in labor or under a scalpel.

There you are, American moms, smiling and chatting and pretending your life hasn't just been turned completely upside down in the best and also most life-altering way.

Whether you get two weeks of maternity leave or six weeks or eight or 12 or more, the world wants to know: how on earth do you do it? Because across the rest of the developed world, new moms are not expected to be up and at 'em within mere weeks of birth.

And yet, there you are, showing up: before scars have healed and before you've slept longer than two hours at a time. Before you are even able to remember what day it is, there you are showing your best face to the world.

This is not an indictment on American working mothers. I understand you. I am you. With my oldest, I returned to work when he was 16 weeks old — a luxury for so many in this country, and yet, my heart still wanted to fall out of my body when I had to walk away from him that first day.

My eyes still burned from the months of sleep deprivation. Yet, I stepped into my cute shoes, did my hair, and entered the world even though I wasn't quite sure I was ready.

America's working moms do this Every. Single. Day. Without the fanfare and without the team of stylists and assistants.

So, before you stand in awe of Kate Middleton, a remarkable woman who deserves every bit of recognition, you should stand in awe of yourself — a remarkable woman who deserves every bit of recognition — and whose efforts probably won't be headline news.

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