Why Kate Middleton Decided to Speak Out About Motherhood: 'This Is Not a Vanity Exercise'

Kate admitted to feeling mom guilt, revealed details of her pregnancy and even hit on how she "really quite liked labor!"

Kate Middleton is baring a major part of herself and opening up about her life as a mother.

It’s been nearly 10 years since Kate and Prince William announced their engagement, but it’s rare for the Duchess of Cambridge to speak candidly about her personal life. Yet that’s exactly what she did in a revealing interview on the Happy Mum, Happy Baby Podcast, where she chatted about life as a mom to 6-year-old Prince George, 4-year-old Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, who turns 2 in April.

“She is exposing herself,” a palace source tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “This is not a vanity exercise. This is her talking about her work and what she has learned as a mother because of her work.”

Kate, 38, revealed details of her pregnancy and even hit on how she “really quite liked labor.” She even admitted to feeling mom guilt when she has to leave her children to carry out official royal duties.

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

“Yes, absolutely — and anyone who doesn’t as a mother is actually lying!” she said. “Yep — all the time. You know, even this morning, coming to the nursery visit here, George and Charlotte were like, ‘Mummy, how could you possibly not be dropping us off at school this morning?’ ”

“It’s a constant challenge — you hear it time and time again from moms, even moms who aren’t necessarily working and aren’t pulled in the directions of having to juggle work life and family life,” Kate continued.

The Duchess of Cambridge, Giovanna Fletcher
Kate Middleton and Giovanna Fletcher. Kensington Palace

Kate spoke about her own childhood, saying she had a “very happy childhood” and came from “a very strong family.”

“But I think the things that really resonate with me most are the simple things and actually I see that now with my own children, life now is so busy, so distracting and actually sometimes the simple things, like watching a fire on a really rainy day provides such enjoyment,” Kate said.

Of Kate’s candid interview, podcast host Giovanna Fletcher, herself a mom of three boys, says: “I had never heard her speak so openly in this way before. I remember having a moment when we were in there and [I thought], ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ And I was trying to act like it was completely normal, and it’s not!”

Trooping The Colour
Prince Louis, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Kate’s podcast appearance came as she was promoting her groundbreaking survey called “5 Big Questions on the Under Fives.” Responses — over 200,000 have already been recorded — will help guide Kate as she maps out how she can help young people and their caregivers and parents in the coming years. The questions include topics such as nature vs. nurture, health and happiness.

“She has become credible in the early years space,” says the palace source.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from—we’re all going through a lot of the same things,” adds Fletcher. “We are all having sleepless nights and going through potty training or whatever it is . . . there’s something that unites us all. I think having the Duchess on really highlights that.”

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Kate Middleton. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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Kate’s ability to talk honestly and openly points to her growing confidence.

She is finding her voice,” a well-placed palace source previously told PEOPLE of the future queen.

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