Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, felt “overjoyed and overwhelmed” after welcoming her daughter into the world.
The former ‘Suits’ actress – who has Archie, two, and Lili, four months, with husband Prince Harry – has penned a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in order to advocate for paid parental leave in the US.
In the note, Meghan – who said she was writing as an “engaged citizen and a parent” – recalled how she and her husband had similar feelings to many parents after she gave birth to their second child, but she knew they were lucky not to have the worry of missing out on early milestones because of working commitments or experiencing financial hardship by taking a career break.
She wrote: “In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child. Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed.
“Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work.
“We knew we could take her home, and in that vital (and sacred) stage, devote any and everything to our kids and to our family. We knew that by doing so we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day.
“No family should be faced with these decisions. No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan).”
Meghan also recalled the financial struggles of her own parents, Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle, when she was growing up.
She wrote: “I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler—it may have cost less back then (to be honest, I can’t remember)—but what I do remember was the feeling: I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky.
“And as a Girl Scout, when my troop would go to dinner for a big celebration, it was back to that same salad bar or The Old Spaghetti Factory—because that’s what those families could afford to do too.
“I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13. I waited tables, babysat, and piecemealed jobs together to cover odds and ends. I worked all my life and saved when and where I could – but even that was a luxury – because usually it was about making ends meet and having enough to pay my rent and put gas in my car.
The 40-year-old duchess highlighted the issues many new parents face and how some were “exacerbated” by the coronavirus pandemic.
She noted: “The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost.”
Meghan urged the politicians to support President Joe Biden’s proposal of giving parents 12 weeks of paid leave.
She wrote: “This is about putting families above politics. And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us.
“So, on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost.”