“Three is the new two!”
That is an actual expression where I live in northwest Washington, D.C. In a world where children are treated like an accessory for elites to display, some people have gotten it into their heads that if you can actually afford to have a third child, it’s a way to signal your social status.
And there is some hard truth to it, given that an extra bedroom in these parts will run you about $200,000 and the cost of childcare is more than the cost of in-state college tuition in most states.
I cannot claim credit for this grotesque expression, but I can attest to its popularity among the East coast elite. Consider these recent headlines:
“Is three the new two?” asks a headline in Today’s Parent.
“The three kid trend is real,” announces Urban Mommies.
“Three is the new two,” according to Scary Mommy.
The New York Times recently waxed on about “The Growing Three-Child Household in Manhattan,” something typically reserved for the “affluent” and “dual-income” couples.
And now, we have the British royal family to cement this exclusive trend forever—Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge announced that they are expecting another child. If Will and Kate are doing it, three is most definitely the new two.
Unlike many families, of course, the couple has the means and support for a third kid. They’ve got cooks and maids and drivers, and on top of that, they’ve got a “supernanny.” Not a nanny, a supernanny. Apparently a “super nanny” is one who is “highly-skilled” enough to protect your kids from things like a terrorist attack, in addition to taking them to the park.
And yet despite knowing all this, I found myself quite surprised to hear that they were expecting a third—and specifically, to hear that Duchess Kate was pregnant again. She had hyperemesis gravidarum with both her previous pregnancies. Both times it landed her in the hospital. She’d already completed her royal duty by producing a “gender balanced” (another favorite phrase of the elite) pair of offspring; she’d be forgiven for not going through it again.
And yet, she is. Even more so, Kate seems to frustrate our social elites by being both a happy and traditional woman who enjoys being a mom, and so darn elegant, gorgeous, and likeable while doing it.
As Charlotte Alter put it in TIME:
I love Kate against all the odds. I am a feminist, she is a poster child for marriage and motherhood. I work, she waves. I love talking, she hates talking. You might call us star-crossed. As implausible as it seems for an empowered American millennial woman to love Kate, I’m not alone. The feminist blog Jezebel posts regular updates on Princess Shinylocks’ every move. Breathless coverage of the royal wedding and birth dominated U.S. news outlets….Neither of these explain why some modern American girls are mesmerized by a woman who stands for everything we disavow; beauty as value, marriage as achievement, procreation as purpose.
Procreation as purpose. That’s a sort of bitter, crusty second-wave feminist way of putting it. And yet the Duchess is now a testament to it. She’s always told the media that she enjoys being a “hands-on mum,” but she clearly doesn’t need to prove her social status by having a third kid. And no amount of money can save you from hyperemesis gravidarum. Rather, Kate is proving the reality that our social elites just can’t seem to accept, that some women love and find purpose in motherhood, enough to give it one more go.
Image: By Carfax2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons