Cranberry Pen Waggener Flickr

Wellness for One (or Two): The Virtues of Cranberry Sauce

By Samantha Pollack

The cranberry: Cancer-fighting. Anti-inflammatory. UTI-preventing.

And inedibly bitter.

Unless, of course, you simmer them into a syrupy preserve with a truckload of sugar, and pour the concoction over your Thanksgiving turkey. (Or in my case, any and everything else.)

I’m not sure it’s possible to convey the depth of my love for cranberry sauce. As a child, I ate it on EVERYTHING, the whole weekend after Thanksgiving. Even grilled cheese. (Especially grilled cheese).

When I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner at age 24, I called my grandmother to learn how she made her cranberry sauce. “The recipe is on the back of the bag, dear.” (Cranberry sauce…not an Armenian tradition, I guess.)

Since then, I have tried every imaginable method to reduce the sugar and make cranberry sauce healthy. It’s been twelve years, and I hate to break it to you, but…

There is no way to make cranberry sauce taste good without sugar.

But here’s what you CAN do.

birthday cake

Growing Older and Growing Up…Child-Free

By Laura LaVoie

I am going to be 40 in 2015. I’ve never really felt like age matters much. I’m not going to say I don’t feel like I’ve become an adult, because I have, but I am also not going to say that I feel like a “grown-up”, because I don’t.

I’m not a kid by any means, but I still love science fiction and I still buy character Band-Aids. I still believe in the spirit of Santa Claus. I just don’t see a reason to let these things go just because I’ve reached a certain age.

Growing up is different for NotMoms, especially those of us who decided at a very young age that children weren’t going to be a part of our everyday lives. For parents, there is a need to step it up and be mature when little lives are on the line, but that isn’t the case for someone like me. I suppose part of the reasons I never felt comfortable with the idea of kids is because I never felt comfortable with the idea of growing up.

And growing old is entirely different. I’ve never had a problem with aging. My 30s were the best decade of my life so I am eagerly awaiting the awesome stuff that my 40s will bring. I’m not afraid of getting old, but I don’t really see a need to grow up.

“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” ~Chili Davis

mini Thanksgiving Etsy

Small-Batch Cooking: Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

By Faye Davenport

What do you do for Thanksgiving dinner? Do you host for the crowd or are do you get to be a guest at someone else’s table? Will you be at home watching football over food that was pre-ordered and picked up the day before, or will you dining out?

Or, are you going to scale down the traditional Thanksgiving dinner feast for dinner at home?

The celebration of Thanksgiving is rooted in early traditions of giving thanks for the year’s harvest, and has become a modern tradition of big gatherings of family and friends with lots and lots of food. The showcase food of the day is, of course, the turkey.

I know that there are folk who do non-turkey meals. My best friend’s family once included me in their Thanksgiving lobster fest. The next day I went out and bought a turkey. I had my Thanksgiving over the weekend. If there’s no turkey, then it’s not Thanksgiving.

While turkey is the traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, if your dinner party is small, then a whole bird is likely to yield more leftovers than you’ll want left over.

Jessica Hepburn, executive director of the Lyric Hammersmith

The NotMom Profile: Jessica Hepburn of ‘The Pursuit of Motherhood’

Childless and childfree women come in lots of shapes and sizes. We are all colors, all cultures, and all ages. As much as we have in common, we are also very different. Some people say it is strange to define ourselves by things that we are not, so let’s determine what we are instead. In this series, childfree blogger Laura LaVoie interviews outspoken women without children who answer the question, “If you’re not a mom, then what are you?”

Jessica Hepburn is the author of The Pursuit of Motherhood, a book and blog about her struggles with infertility. She doesn’t shy away from talking about the heartbreak and disappointment that has been a component of her journey. Her bravery is on display for everyone so they can better understand the pain of what it feels like to want a child so badly and not be able to produce one. Jessica took some time out of her busy schedule to share her story with readers of TheNotMom.

Tell us about yourself and your blog.

Until a little while ago my answer to that question would have been: I live in London, England and run a theatre called the Lyric Hammersmith. But a year ago I ‘came out’ about my decade-long struggle to have a baby, so I can now add to that description that I’m also an author, blogger, journalist, speaker and campaigner on the subject of fertility and infertility.

Someone once described me as a ‘fertility veteran’, which I rather like. It’s definitely true that I’ve had every test known to woman and doctor and have been through more rounds of IVF than is polite to mention in my pursuit of motherhood.

I’d never written anything before, but I was struck by how little available there was about the experience of living with infertility. So I guess I tried to write the book I wanted to read. I also thought it was a good story, with lots of narrative highs and lows. 

I genuinely believed when I started it that I was going to write my way to a conventional happy ending. But it didn’t work out quite like that and now I realize there are even less books on this subject that don’t end with a happy baby ending and somehow that makes it even more important because not all stories do! 

India wait room

I Was Ignorant of India’s Mass Sterilizations, Until They Killed 11 Women.

By Karen Malone Wright

From the start, I knew I wanted this site to feature an American focus with global scope. Stats on women without children around the world aren’t hard to find, and I knew that this community is international. I also knew that the quality of a childless woman’s life is in direct proportion to where she lives.

Makes sense. The quality of every woman’s life is in direct proportion to where she lives. Which is a perfect segue for me to share this NY Times headline I found in my Twitter feed today (11/11/14):

11 Women Die After Botched Government Sterilizations in India

I thought I “knew” about India where, way too frequently, women decide that suicide is better than a life lived without giving birth. Unending shame from cultural and family pressures can lead husbands there to reach the same decision. What I didn’t know is that as part of a policy to control population growth, India’s government has paid women to be sterilized for years.

How much are they paid?  Six hundred rupees each, or almost 10 U.S. dollars.

11/14/14 UPDATE: 13 women have died; the surgeon and the manufacturer of meds found to be tainted are both under arrest.

Forgot children

One Woman’s Story: The Reality of Forgetting to Have Children

Guest Post by Camille J. Severino

I was born in April of 1970 and have been childless for the past 44 years. The first half of my life is a given, mostly because my father put what he calls the “FEAR OF GOD!” into me. At 44, that line makes me giggle, and even at the age of 20, hearing my father say that would make me shake.

By my early 20’s, I was a Complaint Coordinator for UPS’s Central Illinois District. My father was very pleased that, since I wasn’t going to college, I had a secure job with one of the nation’s top corporations. UPS had a reputation as one of the best places to seek employment, and it still does. The benefits were great, the longevity and potential for growth was out of this world, and in hindsight, had I stayed on I would have cashed in when the company went public and I would be financially secure at this point in my life.

Of course, working at UPS for the next 30 to 40 years was exactly what my father wanted me to do. So, I did the opposite.

My attitude about UPS was the attitude I carried with me about everything in my 20’s, including dating and children. I wanted children but I didn’t make any good choices that would lead me in that direction. The boys I chose were always unavailable, a trend that carried over into my 30’s.

NM PURCH-woman xmas

Wellness for One (or Two): How to Stay Grounded This Holiday Season

By Samantha Pollack

I know, as sure as I’m sitting at my computer wearing a red sweater, that you’ve read at least one advice piece about how to cultivate a healthy, stress-free holiday season. 

I know because I use the Internet. And this time of year, you can’t jiggle a mouse without coming across some version of this. A few examples, from a 20-second Google search:

  • 9 Healthy Holiday-Eating Strategies
  • Holiday Survival Guide
  • Healthy Eating for the Holidays
  • Helpful Tips for Healthy Holiday Parties

Know what I didn’t find?

  • How to Honor your Child-Free Status during the Holidays
  • Thanksgiving for Two: Recipe Bonanza
  • All I Want for Christmas is Some Freaking Peace and Quiet

It’s not that holiday discussions are child-centered per se, it’s that they decidedly DON’T acknowledge that not everyone has a large, bustling family.

Asheville, NC

Love Where You Live: Why Place is Important

By Laura LaVoie

I grew up in metro Detroit. I was born there because that was where my parents lived. They lived there because they were born there. I had no choice in the matter. I grew up in a decidedly average town in a firmly middle class household. I graduated high school and I went to college.

I chose a college that was three hours away from Detroit. Western Michigan University is on the west side of the state in the town of Kalamazoo. I had friends already going to Western, so it seemed like a good choice. Plus, my sister graduated from Western and then stayed in Kalamazoo, so I didn’t feel like I would be alone in a strange place.

College was a good experience. I learned how not to throw temper tantrums when I didn’t get my way. I learned that I was not, nor would I ever be, a night owl. I met Matt.

After college, Matt and I moved back to metro Detroit. It was the path of least resistance. That’s where our family and our friends were so it seemed like the logical choice.

This story could have ended there.

Instead, we made some different life choices. We decided very early in our relationship that we didn’t want kids, so establishing a household in a good school district wasn’t very important to us. What we really wanted was to try new things. We wanted to travel. And we wanted to live anywhere but Michigan.


Another Nation Where Childless Women Are On the Rise: Finland

By Karen Malone Wright

Finland is the latest country to report that one in five women over age 40 are childless. If “one of five” sounds familiar, it’s the same child-free ratio occurring in the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, Germany and The Netherlands.

I know nothing of Finland. I think of it as being very cold, which is only partly true, and its capital city, Helsinki, sounds familiar thanks to World War II movies, and coverage of the Olympics and world news.

I mistakenly thought of it as a Scandinavian country, but it’s actually European. And childlessness in Finland is more common than in all but two other European countries (Italy and Switzerland).

women serious talk

One Mom’s Search for Sister-to-Sisterness with Child-Free Women

Guest Post by Melanie Holmes

“I thought if I couldn’t have children, there was no reason to live.”

I read those words years ago, spoken by an infertile woman, and all I could think of was my own daughter (who is now a teenager).

Life. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? If I asked 100 people what makes life wonderful, I’d receive many different answers.

Cheryl* always wanted to be a teacher. When she got her first classroom, it was a wonderful moment. Cheryl’s passion is underprivileged kids; she believes they need great teachers! But there’s something about Cheryl that makes people raise their eyebrows. You see, Cheryl doesn’t want kids of her own.

Another woman I interviewed for my book, who also happens to be a teacher, has heard: “If you don’t want to have kids, why’d you become a teacher?”

Women receive these kinds of responses whether they have chosen not to have kids or whether they are “NotMoms” by circumstance or biology. The assumptions that we hold about others are based on our beliefs and our emotions. No one means for a woman to feel “less than” just because she’s not a Mom, and yet we hear people say, “My life was meaningless until I became a Mom.” This statement comes from a place of emotion…however, when people make this kind of statement, they really need to look around and see who’s listening.

Voiced assumptions are everywhere. A little girl may hear, “Oh you’re so good with your little cousin; you’re going to make such a good Mommy someday!” But what if that little girl grows up and doesn’t want to be a Mom? Or, what if she feels a passion for a career and that path excludes motherhood? What if she doesn’t find the right partner? What if she’s biologically unable to have a child?

Some people will say, “Oh, well then, she’ll find a way to fill the void.” But why would we want women to feel a void to begin with?

B Maynard

Brittany Maynard’s Brave Choice & Lessons on ‘Legacy’

By Karen Malone Wright

Brittany Maynard is the kind of NotMom no one wants to be: At 29, and recently married, she is dying of the most deadly form of brain cancer.

And yet, by commanding control of when she will die and in what fashion, she displays the bold bravery every woman hopes to have. In October 2014, she predicts she won’t live another month, but she will choose the day she dies.

Brittany told CBS This Morning:

“I don’t want to die. If anyone wants to hand me, like, a magical cure and save my life so that I can have children with my husband, you know, I will take them up on it.”

Diagnosis in hand, she moved from California to Oregon, one of five states where doctors may legally assist terminally ill patients in ending their lives. She has said that anger has turned to sadness, centered around how much she wanted a child and how different her journey has become. What drew me to share Brittany’s story in a post is the important lesson she’s learned that we all need to hear.

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