Alpha Moms and “The Cupcake Wars”

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If you’re an involved Mom — i.e., room mom, PTA vice president, Scrip mom, etc. you might find yourself ensnared in what I fondly remember as the “The Cupcake Wars.”icecreamcake

On any normal morning, I’d drop my young kids off at school, smothering them with last minute kisses. The coffee klatch moms, led by their queen bee, wore matching short skirts, strappy sandals, and perfect pedicures. I felt the heat of their stares as they gathered in a cluster. I used to be in the inner circle.  What happened?


What did I do to get ex-communicated from the Mom’s Clique? One morning, I woke up and realized I didn’t have one iota of strength to fight over centerpieces for fundraisers. I no longer cared who chaired which committee, or who sat with whom at which table. I flat out disagreed with a war against one mom’s joy of baking works-of-art cupcakes instead of the required chocolate chip cookies.  Not that these aren’t worthy and high goals, but I’ll leave cupcake massacres to the queen bee.

images-5We women are trained from childhood not to fight or be aggressive, and to be “nice.” We love to share secrets and confidences with our friends. But if a woman feels threatened, she may be afraid that her secrets will be revealed.  She could clobber you with her fists, but it’s more likely she’ll resort to indirect aggression, a skill we’ve honed through the ages. Or, she’ll attack some mom’s cupcakes! (I learned about this from my friend Susan Murphy, Ph.D.)  She says,”Catfights result when the power and self-esteem among women are not kept in balance–a violation of the Power Dead Even Rule.” (Read more about the Power Dead Even Rule in her book “In the Company of Women.”


Back story on “The Cupcake Wars”: At our kids’ school, you could earn your volunteer hours by baking for hot lunch. Chocolate chip cookies were the standard fare. A friend of mine bakes incredible cupcakes (see photos) — she should open a cupcake business — they are that good. But, the cute cupcakes so distraught the moms baking chocolate chip cookies that the school board banned the baking of cupcakes altogether! The board felt it caused too much turmoil in the lunch line because there weren’t enough to go around. So, rather than try to work out a solution, i.e. rotate the cupcakes each week to a different grade, or having them on a first-come, first-served basis — they said no more cupcakes. They left it up to me to tell my friend that she could no longer bring cupcakes to school! Which was totally wrong, since I strongly disagreed with their decision. My friend couldn’t understand why her fun, delicious cupcakes were banned — and why they didn’t inspire other moms to be creative — yet it was okay to drop off a box of Chips Ahoy. (So, then I campaigned for “Fresh Fruit Fridays” — a story for another day!)

3539053509_f64da7a86dAre there any rules at your school, either as a parent or way back when you were a kid that didn’t make sense?  If so, what are they? I’d like to know!

2 thoughts on “Alpha Moms and “The Cupcake Wars”

  1. How wonderful to see Susan Murphy’s name in this story. She really “gets it” when it comes to women and their power to destroy us CUPCAKES. Personally, I have always been in the “OUT” group with the cliques in school as a vulnerable young girl, a volunteer in my child’s class, teaching at church, or political fund raisers. Now at my age with my beauty behind me, I finally GET IT! Jealousy. And it hurts. I never could understand meanness, but it is surrounding us in abundance.

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