The Cambridge Mommy Wars


I haven’t really followed the Duchess’s pregnancy, just the headlines found in my normal news circuit. But I like the Duchess of Cambridge. While I would certainly be a republican if I were British, I have a great deal of respect for the Duke and Duchess’s sense of duty.

So I watched the coverage today. (I had to do it the old way, on TV. Wonky wifi here, but that is part of tomorrow’s post.) I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the new prince, born into a life of duty, a path already laid out before him. And I certainly feel sorry for the Duchess of Cambridge. Everything she does will be a flashpoint in the Mommy Wars.

Already in the birth coverage, that the Duchess was not induced got repeat mention. Induction is a common Mommy Wars battlefield. Inquiring minds wanted to know. Their no nanny decision is also receiving a lot of early attention. Both only hint at the scrutiny to come.

So why do moms care what other moms do and how will the Duchess have it worse than the rest of us?

White privileged women fight the Mommy Wars because we have neither necessity nor experience to constrain or inform our choices. Relatively wealthy and educated, we spend our 20’s and 30’s studying and practicing a profession. If we decide to become mothers, however, we often do that cold. We seldom prepare before a positive pregnancy test, and then we reach for books–all theory, no practice. When the baby comes, the emotional and practical realities of motherhood shock us. We grasp for a unified theory of motherhood, a rule book, a formula.

We wage the Mommy Wars because we want endorsement for our chosen unified theory. We need other mothers to agree with us because that is how we “know” we are right. Motherhood by majority rule. None of the pleas about ‘why can’t we all get along?’address this crisis in confidence in our parenting. The Mommy Wars will not end until we restore that confidence.

And now, with the arrival of the Prince of Cambridge, despite the good intentions of the Let’s End the Mommy Wars moms, the battles will rage hotter than ever in the coming years. The world media will not even attempt to resist the link bait of the royal Cambridges, probably adding a Time magazine “Are You Mom Enough?” angle to augment the hit count of every story, leading millions of moms to think “Quit pointing your avocado at me!”




  1. Maverick said:

    Wisdom from 1983…”A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?”

  2. Leslie Loftis said:

    Interesting choice. I agree, but if you recall Joshua, or WOPR (pronounced whopper, for my young or not geeky readers) only came to that conclusion after war gaming every global thermonuclear war scenario. “He’s learning.” “Learn, goddamint, learn!” Can’t remember if that last is an actual quote. It just popped into my head, along with the little popping sound effect from the bubble hits on the map. Anyway, that experience, that knowledge, is percisely what modern women are missing in motherhood. If you watch the Mommy Wars, moms with experience with kids or 3 or more children, they know not to play, mainly becuause they don’t have to play. They can make a judgment call on how much AP or whatever to use because they know what is a normal range, a typical result. Moms without enough experience need the reassurance if the expert and the theory.

  3. Maggie Magdalene said:

    Somehow, I hadn’t considered the presence of Mommy Wars outside of the US. Silly of me, obviously. I like that you mention mothers of three or more children. I think more than two not only gives women experience and knowledge that leads them to step out of the Mommy Wars, but it also has a humbling effect that makes them understand that, no matter your approach, parenting is hard work, and we just need to support one another.

    I’ve been at both ends of Mommy Wars–my mother-in-law is a long-time LLL leader, and I count myself among the few women in this family who likely got pressure to wean later rather than sooner (and I nursed my babies extensively). Very strong beliefs about nursing and bonding and birth abound. A cousin on the other side is a hypno-birthing doula, and is offended by anyone taking Bradley classes. My sister, on the other hand, thinks Ezzo is a saint, and takes every opportunity she can to testify that crying-it-out was the best thing she ever did with her kids.

    I fought for a long time. I have four kids. The youngest is six, and the oldest is fifteen, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that other women don’t want advice, they want people to tell them that what they are doing is absolutely the best choice. I’m tired and worn from fifteen years of intense hands-on parenting. I feel like my husband and I have come out on the other side of something huge, and it is babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Did I make the right choices with them? I think, for the most part, yes. But, and, this is my big but, I am not proud enough to say that some things might not have been done differently with similar outcome, or maybe even better. I think I should have paid more attention to my physical, mental, and spiritual health, and that might have involved choices that would involve giving up my AP card. Mostly, I tend not to judge anyone whom I see is crazy about their kids and is sincerely trying to do the best they can for them because those baby/toddler/preschooler years are a long haul, and retaining one’s sanity is important to the job.

  4. Maggie Magdalene said:

    ***not “few women in this family,” but rather, “few women in this country.”

  5. Leslie Loftis said:

    Yes, the Mommy Wars exist over here, though they are less intense. I had a post at my old place that I meant to link to in the opening. Will add after I post this. LATER: Now I see why I didn’t link. I deleted that section. Here’s one of my older posts on the Mommy Wars US and UK compare and contrast.

    And spot on that women are really looking for reassurance that what they are doing is right. Have you noticed that most moms “seek advice” from within a circle of moms at the same stage? Moms of toddlers seek out other moms of toddlers, not moms of teens who might have some hard insight on how a particural parenting stragety plays out. Like you said, now with a 15 year old, you can look back and see you might have done a few things differently, not straight up AP.
    Truth is, all of the parenting theories from AP to Babywise have some truth and wisdom. The trick is to know what is good, what is rot, and when to apply the good stuff. But that takes experience that we don’t cultivate anymore.

  6. edge of the sandbox said:

    The business about her not being induced… Whether or not it’s true, I’m sure she wouldn’t be allowed to go a day past 41 weeks. I imagine these issues were cleared up with Kate prior to her engagement.
    I don’t feel sorry for Kate being a flashpoint of mommy wars. That’s a part of the role she sought for herself. The important part is not to get involves in mommy wars herself, and she gets it. And I don’t think the royal family will allow her to succumb into the self-righteous new mommy state of mind.

  7. Leslie Loftis said:

    Oh, I don’t think she will get involved. For instance, I’m sure you are right about 41 weeks, which is why I figure they were vague and confusing about her due date. She will try to give out as little information as possible, but the press will pounce on the bits that leak out.
    I remember a mini frenzy back when William was a tot. He ran away from his mother and she gave him a small swat. It was in People and on the news. By 80’s standards, the story went viral. Imagine what will happen if the little prince gets photographed taking a bottle before at least 6 months?

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