persephone

Child-Free Mythology: The Story of Persephone

By Laura LaVoie

Many world religions have a distinct bias toward parents. It makes sense from a sociological level. The more children born into a specific faith, the faster that faith can spread out of its indigenous region. However, while some women without children find comfort in these religions, others reject them all together.

This is the case for women both childfree by choice and by chance. In our monthly series of interviews on this blog, we’ve focused on several bloggers of faith from both sides of this issue, and they approach it from many angles.

But what if, in our cultural past, there was a mythology for women without children?

woman bench

The Not Mom Blogger Profile: Vicki of A Woman Without Children

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 women bloggers without children who answer the question, “If you’re not a mom, then what are you?”

A Woman Without Children is the online platform of Vicki, a woman from Charlotte, NC who is living the fertile life even though her body is infertile. Recently, Vicki and her husband separated partially because of their relationship-long battle with infertility. Vicki currently lives with her rescued cats in what she calls “unplanned singleness.” This is Vicki’s story.

Tell us about yourself and your blog.

I am a 45-year-old woman who was never able to carry a child to term. I was diagnosed with PCOS as a teenager. My rollercoaster ride with infertility/infertility treatments/failed adoptions spanned roughly 15 years, although there were breaks mixed in with attempts to build our family during those years.

How has this impacted your life?

Greatly. I could write a novel based on what I’ve experienced. Some folks can go through infertility and/or childlessness seemingly with minimal trauma. I’m not one of these people. This was a major life challenge for me and has had ramifications in all my relationships. That is what has taken me the most time to process.

EMS

Surprisingly Funny True Story: Injured Childless Woman Meets Mom-Focused EMS

By Karen Malone Wright

Feeling the need to lighten up a little bit? This ought to do it. I give you the Yes, This Really Happened story of my good friend, Beverly (not her real name), a NotMom by Chance.

She asked me to share her story here, and I’m happy to do so because every time I think of it, I laugh out loud. I think you will, too.

Animals are Beverly’s passion, especially dogs. She is active with local rescue kennels and believes in hands-on pet care. Two examples: For more than a year, she managed meds and injections for her beloved diabetic Chihuahua. She’s also been known to spend hundreds of dollars at the emergency vet at 3:00 in the morning to save a $10.00 parakeet from K-Mart. (#JustSayin)

Right now, Beverly’s household includes two rescued dogs, a Rottweiller and a pit bull. They are sweet dogs who know they’ve been given a second chance. The Rotty is especially protective of his adoptive Mom.

In a nutshell, Beverly sat on her living room couch and attempted to clip the pit bull’s dewclaw, an extra nail on front legs. She’d done it before, but this time the dog growled at her. In a flash, the Rottweiller bounded into the room and jumped on the couch to protect her.

The deep-growl, dog-on-dog argument escalated, and Beverly — sweet, crazy Beverly — reflexively raised her arm to stop the animals from nipping at each other. You guessed it: both dogs clamped down on her right arm. Hard.

Now comes the funny part.

Janay Rice

Dear America: Domestic Violence Against Women Is Never Her Fault. Never.

By Karen Malone Wright

By now, you’ve surely seen the 3-minute TMZ video of the shot felt round the world. Arguing in an Atlantic City hotel elevator in February 2014, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hits his then-fiancée Janay Palmer with a left cross that knocks her out cold. As a result, he’s lost his job, and probably his NFL career.

Security video released in February briefly showed the aftermath: Mr. Rice dragging the unconscious woman from the elevator to the hall. (btw, When you pull a person by their ankles that way, their face is being dragged across the floor.) Even so, at that point, his official “punishment” by the NFL was only a 2-game suspension.

With the Rices united at press conferences and above, leaving court in May, everything must be cool, right? Management at the Ravens and the NFL say they never saw the full video, or harsher penalties would have been enacted sooner. Apparently, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell needed to see the punch itself before understanding that domestic violence is violent, and that a professional football player vs. an adult woman is an unfair fight.

The case has put domestic violence in the headlines – again – with many people wondering why Janay married Ray just one day after he was indicted by a grand jury on third-degree aggravated assault against her. (Mr. Rice pleaded not guilty and applied for a first-time offenders program that could clear him of charges within 6 months.)

The Rices have a 2-year-old daughter, named Rayven after his former team. This is not a post about a woman without children. This is about Everywoman, the victim who asked for it.

shame sad

The Country Where Childlessness Is a Reason to End It All Leads the World in Suicides

By Karen Malone Wright

If you’re feeling as though the world’s underpinnings aren’t as stable as you thought, welcome to a big club. Bloodshed from Gaza to Ferguson. Ebola. Climate change. ISIS.

Amidst those chilling headlines, in September 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its first-ever look at suicide around the world.

Factoid #1: A person takes her or his own life every 40 seconds.

Factoid #2: India, where reports of women choosing death over a life without children are not that rare at all, scores with the highest estimated number of suicides in the world in 2012.

NM PURCH-eye roll

You Think I’d Make A Great Mom? How the Heck Do You Know?

By Laura LaVoie

On the list of 7,082 things that people say to women without children is this:

“You would make a great Mom!”

Recently, a lifelong friend of mine, who also happens to be childfree, posted to her Facebook page this Buzzfeed list of “17 Things Women Without Children Are Tired of Hearing.” All of the things on the list are super annoying but I’m focusing on Number 6. The reason it is important is because of the following exchange.

Soon after my friend posted the list, several people “Liked” it and commented on it, including myself. Then, one friend seemed to misunderstand the entire point of the post and replied, “All of you would make great parents, though!”

I wrote, “Seriously! That was number 6!”

To which he replied that he hadn’t even read the linked article. He just felt strongly that we would make good parents. 

read newspaper

Summer 2014’s Top 3 News Headlines: Childless/Childfree Edition

By Karen Malone Wright

The summer of 2014 is heading toward the history books. Sigh. Nothing to be done about it, I guess.

But, before we get all revved up by whatever Autumn has in store for the world, I thought I’d refresh my memory of recent months’ discussions and issues. It wasn’t hard to choose our Top 3 Headlines of Summer ’14, and it’s not my fault that they involve religion and extramarital affairs.

tantrum

Can’t I Just Eat in Peace? Real Issues Behind Banning Children from Restaurants

By Laura LaVoie

Restaurants banning screaming babies are getting a lot of press these days. The childfree population is praising these policies, while families with babies are angry about their exclusion. There are deeper issues than just what we see on the surface of the conversations, so let’s have a look at the implications.

I’ve recently been a part of two conversations about restaurants that don’t allow children. Let me recap them for you.

First, a family member, who also has no kids, posted to Facebook this article about a California restaurant that decided to ban children. Since he has no kids, my relative also has a lot of friends with no kids, and they all quickly jumped into the conversation. To be honest, some of the comments were quite insulting, such as referring to people as “breeders”, or kids as “crotch fruit.” They even made me uncomfortable, and I don’t have or like kids.

Soon, the negative Facebook chatter attracted parents’ attention. My relative’s recently married cousin (who is now expecting her first child) was very upset by the article,and the way she interpreted it as well as the commentary. She was angry that she and her soon-to-be-baby would be excluded from public places. She lashed out that she hoped that people had to deal with screaming babies and that it served them right. She eventually rage-quit the conversation while letting the non-parents know that they were mean, horrible, awful people. 

Aniston life of crime

Jennifer Aniston’s Life: Another Promo Tour, Another Uterine Spotlight

By Karen Malone Wright

Jennifer Aniston has a movie coming out in Fall 2014, so I’m sure her publicist is ready for the media’s prioritized focus on her client’s uterus. It was exactly a year ago – August 2013 – when I wrote a post titled Dear World: Please Leave Jennifer Aniston’s Uterus Alone.

For Ms. Aniston, 45, some version of  “Are you pregnant?”, or, “Are you sad about not having children?” has publicly chased her since the end of her marriage to Brad Pitt in 2006.

2006! More time has passed post-marriage than when they were together (4-1/2 years), but the questions persist, partly fueled by the adorable reality of the Brangelina six-pack of kids.

The problem is that the celeb gossip reporters know that Ms. Aniston wants children of her own, and that she wanted them with her ex-husband Brad Pitt, despite rumors to the contrary. They know because she told them so, and now, they’re in her business, and in her face.

I was skeptical when NBC’s promo machine teased an August 2014 interview with Ms. Aniston and referenced The Baby Questions this way: “She’s responding to them — not with the answers, but with her take on the expectations that come with the questions.”

To Carson Daly’s credit, to me, he did try to do just that. And to Jennifer’s credit, she didn’t use her favorite curse word once.

NM PURCH-sad older

Acceptance of Childlessness Isn’t the Same as Acceptance of Loss

Guest Post By Anonymous

NOTE:  Readers of this site prove time and again that among the community of women without children — more than 23 million in the US alone –no two stories are alike, even if they appear to be similar on the surface. It logically follows that a random selection of five NotMoms without kids By Choice or By Chance on any given day will reveal varying feelings about living child-free. It might be foolish, however, to assume that a single snapshot in time clearly defines their feelings.

I may have made that mistake in a recent post about how good it feels to realize that Facebook photos of a friend’s children don’t make me sad anymore. But, on the same day that post was published, I received this one from a woman who prefers to be anonymous and in a very different space. She reminds me — us — of the fluidity of grief.   –kmw

I thought I was over it. Clearly I’m not. Actually, I thought I’d never actually been in it.

For most of my life I didn’t think I wanted children. I never had any interest in being pregnant and always believed strongly in adoption. But children weren’t ever really on my radar.

Then I got older and began to think differently. I had no interest in bringing up a baby, and had even less interest in carrying one inside me. Then I got even older, and I got married, and then I began to think about it. It didn’t happen.

Now, I’m in the age bracket where my friends are becoming grandparents, and although that brings a passing melancholy of its own, I didn’t expect my reaction to the post of a Facebook friend. Eight little words: “It’s confirmed, I’m going to be a Mommy!”

Facebk

Childless Self-Help on Facebook? Try Your News Feed First.

By Karen Malone Wright

There’s been considerable chatter in this space and others about the impact of Facebook posts on Friends with kids and without. Parents jealous of child-free Friends’ travel pix. NotMom Blair Koenig spinning her STFU, Parents blog and book from frustration with Friend after Friend posting a child’s first nap, poo, or grin.

At varying levels, the unifying component on both sides generally boils down to resentment. Nasty stuff, that. I’m happy to share a related example with a positive ending. This story involves a woman who is my Friend online, but in Real Life, we were office co-workers years ago…which makes us only Acquaintances offline. Let’s call her “Tonya”.

In August, Tonya was one of many in my News Feed who proudly uploaded photos of the First Day of School. Kids in pix like that are always cute, similarly posed, and appallingly taller than I think a five-, six-, whatever-year-old kid should be. I scroll through, rarely lingering to study the faces of children I’ve never met and probably never will.

Under the category of Lessons from Facebook, it would be enough if I simply told you there was once a time that images like those would leave me in tears, and now they don’t. But for me, the Tonya connection is special.

Iranian

Iran’s Plan for Population Growth: Mandate Motherhood

By Karen Malone Wright

I vaguely remember an episode of The Oprah Show that presented how women the same age were faring around the world — how government, religion, environment and culture in each nation limited or expanded their freedoms.

The goal was to spark empathy as viewers placed themselves in each situation, from Spain to Saudi Arabia. Lately, the younger women of Iran are on my mind, and the memories of that old Oprah show came rushing back.

Iran? Yes, Iran.

Let go for a minute whatever your brain usually pops up with when you think of that country, and imagine instead that in August 2014, you’re a 28-year-old, college educated Iranian woman who’s just learned that her parliament has voted to ban permanent forms of contraception. No vasectomies. No tubal ligation. Doctors who violate the ban will be punishable by law. 

Oh, and no more advertisements for birth control, either, but the ministry of health will help pay for infertility treatment.

Reuters reports that previously, condoms were widely available and “family planning considered entirely normal,” but Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is calling for measures to increase the population. ASAP.

NM PURCH-Talk to hand

Advice to a Teen from a Childfree Woman: Respect Your Choices

By Laura LaVoie

While at a camping festival in August, I was honored to be part of a ceremony for a 13-year-old girl to welcome her into womanhood. Her mother invited all of the women who were part of this temporary community to celebrate the young woman and provide her with blessings and inspiration as she transitions from a girl to a woman.

It was a beautiful celebration and I am very happy I was involved.

I’m not close with this girl. When individuals were asked to walk up to give her blessings, I stayed back, respectfully. I was surprised when the next part of the ceremony was to have every woman there provide the girl with some advice for her life. As she began to traverse our circle to hear each woman’s wisdom, I thought hard about what I would tell her.

I’m not a mom, so I wasn’t sure what kind of advice I could provide a 13-year-old girl.

Then it occurred to me. That was exactly the advice I could provide her.

NM PURCH-woman on road

The Childless Only Child: A Niche Within A Niche

By Karen Malone Wright

It’s been almost a year since I wrote a post about childless only children, my first on the topic, and apparently, one of very few online. As older posts on this site go, it’s been a leader in continuously attracting comments and personal stories. 

It’s one thing to find another person without kids; it’s another to find one who understands the unique perspectives of child-free only children. It’s logical to think the Internet could help in the search.

It seems that many child-free adults who are their parents’ only child are hard-pressed to find another like them.  If they are aunts, or uncles, it’s by marriage, or friendship. After a certain age, their close family may be what others think of as extended, built of non-blood relationships. I’m an only, and that’s certainly true in my life.

But without sisters or brothers, your family line ends with you. Thoughts of legacy and fears of aging that we all have may be magnified. That’s what I thought of when I read this comment from William in August 2014: (What? You thought only women read this blog?)

“I too have been searching the internet for people with this same issue. I am an only child, and I have just turned sixty years old. My father died ten years ago, and my mother is nearing ninety. My wife and I could not have children, and for some years I thought that this would not be a big deal. But it really is a big deal. My wife has five siblings and that is great, but things have happened over the years that have estranged us from them all a bit. I know this is a selfish thought, but sometimes I wonder what the purpose of it all can be. I guess I am just going through something tonight, and tomorrow it will be better, but for right now, I am glad I found this website.”

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