Dear Kate ... -

Dear Kate …

Leah McLaren offers some motherly advice from someone who’s been there. Sort of.

Matt Dunham/AP

Dear Kate,

I hope you don’t mind me calling you that. “Your Royal Highness” seems so stuffy and motherhood is such a levelling experience, you know? I feel it’s better if we just communicate like the West London neighbours we are—new mum to new mum.

Poor darling, you must be exhausted! Nothing quite like giving birth in a heat wave with the world media trained on the hospital door. The pressure must have been intense. I found it intense and the only people watching me give birth were a bored NHS midwife and my boyfriend.

Having said that, we have a lot in common. We live in the same neighbourhood, for one thing. And we both have long hair. And now we’re both mummies! Isn’t that amazing? And while I was rather disappointed at your declining my invitation to join our local Kensington and Chelsea chapter of the National Childbirth Trust group, or to sign up for Mommy and Me yoga at Life Centre in Notting Hill, your private secretary was super-sweet about it. I have his cards up on the fridge, right beside my son’s feeding schedule and the receipt for the completely useless “baby-proofing kit” from John Lewis, which my boyfriend is supposed to return this week if he manages to come home from work on time for once?.?.?.?sorry, where was I?

Oh, right. I was telling you about the magic of motherhood.

First off, I think it’s really cool that you are choosing not to have a nanny. I felt exactly the same way when I was pregnant. It was like, “Why would I want a stranger in my space while I’m just going to spend the next six months lying in bed, communing with my baby in a serene breast-milk-scented haze?” Which I did for about six sleepless weeks until I started to notice I’d run out of clean stretch pants. And then day sort of slid into night until one evening, my boyfriend came home from work and found the baby crying and me crying and he said, “Maybe we should call that nice lady down the street?” I said, PLEASE GOD YES.

But I’m sure you’ll be much stronger and more resilient than I was. You’re British, after all. And royal. You’ll have your mother and Pippa for support. And a cook and a butler and a chambermaid and a chauffeur and a plane and a helicopter and a team of ladies in waiting and several fully staffed palaces, all of which might come in just a teeny bit handy with your down-to-earth choice to forgo child care. You go, girl.

Now let’s talk about our boobs. I know it’s a touchy subject, what with those embarrassing European tabloid photos last year. The French are so rude. I don’t care if they invented Sophie the giraffe and Camembert—that paparazzo really crossed the line. But mum to mum? You should probably be happy everyone got to see the girls before the little prince of Cambridge gets his hands on them.

Don’t be shy—this is what mummy friends are for! We go to the Giraffe Café (there’s one on Holland Park Road right behind Kensington Palace; I can meet you there for coffee any Tuesday or Thursday morning right after Gymboree) and we trade hilarious stories about how silly our menfolk are—like the time when the boyfriend made a move for old time’s sake and we pushed him away and shouted, “Get your filthy unsterilized paws off our child’s food source!” Just tell the story of how Wills put the onesie on upside down or the nappy that exploded in Princess Michael of Kent’s lap and you’ll have all the girls in stitches.

Once the infant stage passes, the conversations get more interesting. That’s when we start comparing our babies by saying things like, “Oh, come now, Henry, stop making anagrams with your megablocks. Mummy’s little brain is too tired to figure them out right now.” Or, “For heaven’s sake, Mathilde, put away the violin. I told you, no more Paganini until you eat every last bit of that purple sprouting broccoli!” And then we roll our eyes and pour another glass of Tesco three-for-one pinot grigio and bitch about how much the bloody kitchen extension is going to cost.

Isn’t being a mum in London amazing?

You must be so relieved you had a boy. No body-image tantrums or pregnancy scares or controversial changes to ancient succession laws to deal with. Plus recent studies show that British boys do much worse in school than girls, so if he ends up a bit thick, you won’t have to feel too embarrassed. The question, I suppose, is whether he’ll pass the entrance exams to Eton with all the clever, super-rich kids from the BRIC countries competing to get in.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? Since you’ve given birth to the heir to the throne, it means you’re probably in a solid position to get into any private nursery school you want. But if I were you, I wouldn’t take any chances. I heard the Montessori in South Kensington turned down Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s kid, so you should probably get Wills to courier the applications straight from the hospital like everyone else. Once you’re settled in, I’d love to come round with this little gift I bought for His Royal Gurgles. It’s nothing, really, just a cashmere bath-and-bed set and a sterling rattle from Harvey Nicks. Or, if you’re keen to get your figure back right away, we could do a baby boot camp in the park. I’m dying to hear the birth story. You’ve got my number, darling. Call me!

Lots of love,