Why do I care? Let’s start by admitting that I do. I watched that door of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in London for the first glimpse of the new family. I cooed at the new Prince’s little Royal Wave. And I ate up this morning’s CNN interview with the second in line to the British throne, or, as he will be forever known to the third in line -- Dada.
I shouldn’t care. I know. Not only have I never met William or Catherine or George, but I have proudly cultivated a disinterest bordering on disdain for celebrity over the years. I’ve long refused to obsess over that which exists only as objects for other’s to gawk over.
And yet, something about this new baby has grabbed me in the heart.
In part, it’s the flood of memories. I am (incomprehensibly) the age Diana would have been had she lived. When William was born I was very single, not even thinking about marriage or children, and there was nothing personal about her tale. When the new mama slipped her pinkie into her baby’s mouth to calm and quiet him during his Christening photo session, it meant nothing to me. It does now.
Watching the new parents holding their newborn less than 24 hours after he was born I remembered that moment that no parent ever forgets. I all but inhabited the mix of exhaustion, elation and wonder that you entered as a duo and are leaving as a trio. (Also, the disbelief that you are actually being trusted to bring this tiny bundle home.) As William told CNN's Max Foster, thinking back on that first photo op:
“I think more shock was the feeling I felt, but I was on such a high anyway, and so was Catherine, about George that really we were happy to show him off to whoever wanted to see him. As any new parent knows, you're only too happy to show off your new child and, you know, proclaim that he is the best looking or the best everything. It's nice that people want to see George -- I'm just glad he wasn't screaming his head off the whole way through."
As any new parent knows.
Of course any new parent doesn’t leave the hospital with the whole world watching. And every new parent doesn’t have to practice with the car seat in advance so the whole world doesn’t watch him fumble. (William told Foster that he did, in fact, rehearse: "Believe, me it wasn't my first time," William said, "and I know there's been some speculation about that. I had to practice, I really did -- I was terrified it was going to fall off or the door wasn't going to close properly." In spite of that, there are some who say that George was not actually strapped into his seat securely enough....)
But every new parent does relate to the lack of sleep, and the changing of the first “nappy” (William says he did the honors, changing the first diaper, because “I had every midwife staring at me, saying: 'You do it, you do it.'") and the realization that the center of gravity of your planet has shifted. “"For me, Catherine and now little George are my priorities,” the Prince told Foster. “And Lupo," he added, of the couple’s cocker spaniel, who is “coping all right, actually.”
Nappies, car seats, jealous pups. As any parent knows. I think that’s what has grabbed me about this new family -- that they are trying so hard to be normal in the midst of a most abnormal life. And watching them cling to what is most important distills down what matters for the rest of us.
"The last few weeks for me have been a very different emotional experience, something I never thought I would feel myself.,” he said. “And I find, again it's only been a short period, but a lot of things affect me differently now."
Don't we all know it.