LIFE

Michelle Obama’s Touching Advice About New Motherhood Left Meghan Markle ‘Speechless’

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

Prince Harry recently revealed that he and Meghan Markle plan to have two kids, max. So Meghan asked for new mom advice from another mother of two: former first lady Michelle Obama.

Meghan and Michelle engaged in a touching Q&A for the September issue of British Vogue, which Meghan guest-edited. They discussed motherhood, girls’ education, and being new parents.

The Duchess of Sussex said that Michelle’s responses to her questions left her “somewhat speechless.”

“A few ‘simple questions’ (which she could have answered with a sentence or two) were returned to me as a thoughtful, reflective and beautifully curated narrative – a gentle reminder not of how but of why she has become such a globally respected public figure,” Meghan said.

Michelle’s advice included gems like the importance of letting go of control and savoring the small joys of early parenthood.

“To my former First Lady, and now friend, Michelle — thank you,” Meghan said.

While she was pregnant with Archie, Meghan was quietly at work on a “secret project”: guest-editing the most important issue of British Vogue of the year. Meghan poured her heart into this project, and it shows.

The issue features 15 different cover girls from all walks of life, each of whom is a “force for change” in their own way. The cover stars include actresses like Salma Hayek, Laverne Cox, Jameela Jamil, and Yara Shahidi. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is on one cover, and 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg is on another.

Inside the pages, there are a range of thoughtful interviews and essays, including some work from the royal couple themselves. Prince Harry authored a candid interview about the environment with Dr. Jane Goodall.

“Guest Editing the September issue of British Vogue has been rewarding, educational and inspiring. To deep dive into this process, working quietly behind the scenes for so many months, I am happy to now be able to share what we have created,” Meghan wrote.

Meghan’s idea to interview Michelle Obama came fairly early on in the project. She was still pregnant with Archie at the time, and she was contemplating whom to feature for the magazine’s back page Q&A section.

“My first thought was that it needed to be someone kind, inspirational, motivating, funny, with gravitas and as much depth as levity,” she wrote. “My second thought: it needed to be Michelle Obama.”

She asked Michelle to participate “over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump.” Thankfully, Michelle said yes, and she way exceeded expectations. Her thoughtful answers left Meghan “somewhat speechless.”

Meghan’s first question: “What has motherhood taught you?”

Michelle said that being a mother has been “a masterclass in letting go.”

“Try as we might, there’s only so much we can control,” Michelle said. “And, boy, have I tried – especially at first. As mothers, we just don’t want anything or anyone to hurt our babies. But life has other plans. Bruised knees, bumpy roads and broken hearts are part of the deal.”

She added that her job as a mother is to “give them the space to explore and develop into the people they want to be.”

“Not who I want them to be or who I wish I was at that age, but who they are, deep inside,” she said.

Moreover, she knows that she can’t remove every obstacle for her daughters. Adversity and failure is inevitable, she says.

“I need to be a safe and consistent place for them to land when they inevitably fail; and to show them, again and again, how to get up on their own,” she said.

Their Q&A then veered to other topics, like what advice Michelle would give to her daughters and what she would tell her own 15-year-old self. But with the final question, Michelle returned to a meditation on parenthood once again.

Meghan asked, “What is the most beautiful sound that you’ve ever heard?”

Michelle replied, “When Malia and Sasha were newborns, Barack and I could lose hours just watching them sleep. We loved to listen to the little sounds they’d make – especially the way they cooed when they were deep into dreaming.”

She advised Meghan to savor these early moments.

“Don’t get me wrong, early parenthood is exhausting. I’m sure you know a thing or two about that these days. But there is something so magical about having a baby in the house,” she said.

“Time expands and contracts; each moment holds its own little eternity,” Michelle continued. “I’m so excited for you and Harry to experience that, Meghan. Savour it all.”

As Meghan says, it’s so easy to feel connected to Michelle, and clearly she gives amazing advice.

This Q&A wasn’t the first time that the two have connected. They also met and “chatted for a long time” when Michelle visited London for her book tour. On Mother’s Day — which was Meghan’s first time celebrating the holiday as a new mom — Michelle sent Meghan “the kindest message.”

“There’s something magical about the way in which she draws you in with her endearingly frank, down-to-earth personality,” Meghan said of the former first lady.

Who knew the royal had such great interview skills?