Meghan Markle opened up about the difficulties from her childhood and the challenges of being a parent in a letter to Congress.
In it, Markle asked Congress to support paid parental leave policies in support of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. The letter, published by Paid Leave For All, asks Congress to understand the needs of Americans who often have to choose work over their children or make sacrifices in their careers to care for their children. The pandemic has made these choices even more difficult.
“Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities,” Markle wrote. “At an alarming rate, millions of women dropped out of the workforce, staying home with their kids as schools and daycares were closed, and looking after loved ones full-time. The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost.”
Markle then went into more detail about her own parents, who had to make similar sacrifices. “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. Even [saving money] was a luxury — because usually it was about making ends meet and having enough to pay my rent and put gas in my car.”
Markle addressed the challenges she and Prince Harry have faced as parents, while also recognizing the privilege to have the opportunity to take time off from their careers following the birth of their daughter, Lili, in June, a luxury that most Americans do not have.
“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,” she wrote.
When Lili was born in June, the couple took time off from their nonprofit, Archwell.
“Paid leave should be a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists,” Meghan Markle continued. “This is about putting families above politics.”