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From to Tiny Houses to Child-Free Living, Women Are Finding Their Tribes

By Laura LaVoie

It was like a homecoming when we arrived in Portland, Oregon for the second annual Tiny House Conference in April 2015. There were hugs all around; people we have seen once or twice before, and first-time face-to-face meetings with some personalities we only knew online.

The speakers, house owners, and volunteers gathered on Friday night before the official conference kickoff to get our marching orders and enjoy each other’s company over pizza and beer.

The conference itself exploded with energy starting at 8 am on Saturday morning as the attendees arrived. I watched the bustle of registration and said ‘Hi’ to more old friends along the way. Matt and I were presenting both days, and when we weren’t speaking, we were watching other presenters and touring tiny homes. We enjoyed getting to know some of the 400 people in attendance.

Tiny Houses have been raising in popularity lately due to several television shows, including FYI’s Tiny House Nation. And while those shows are entertaining, they don’t necessarily reflect the true heart of the tiny house community.

Tiny House pioneer, author and fellow NotMom Dee Williams will be the first to tell you:

“It’s not about the house.”

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When ‘I Thought You Were Childfree’ Feels Like Betrayal

By Laura LaVoie

During the very long period of time that I knew I didn’t want kids, I also knew that one of my closest childhood friends did want them. In fact, I was the one who set her up with her now-husband because I knew, more than anything, she wanted to start a family.

And, she didn’t want the same kind of family I started, where two is enough. She wanted little ones. I was completely, totally OK with that. Not that I would have had any control over it if I weren’t.

A few months ago, childfree Facebook pages blew up with the news that Zooey Deschanel was pregnant. This is a woman who had previously made very public statements like this one from Marie Claire in April 2012:

“That’s never been my focus…My sister [Emily] was always very motherly, babysitting and stuff. I like kids, and I like being around kids –- but it was never an ambition, something, like, I need.”

This statement, and others, cemented that Zooey was “like us.” She was a friend, bonded in the same desire to live her life without children. Until January 2015…when the Internet broke with the news: Zooey was expecting her first child.

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Wellness for One (or Two): Five Remedies To Try If You’re Allergic to Spring

By Samantha Pollack

Little story: When I first moved to Asheville from Boston, it was like a nature bomb went off and littered my world with dandelions, ferns, poison ivy, and kudzu. (And bugs.)

Mostly, I loved it. The air smelled so clean! I could see green everywhere I looked! And since I moved in the fall, I got to skip most of the oppressive summer heat.

The following spring, though, I had a wicked sore throat that lasted for weeks, along with post-nasal drip and what felt like a low-grade fever.

Honestly, it felt like strep throat, so I went to urgent care for a culture. The doctor was very sweet, and not condescending at all when she delivered my diagnosis: allergies.

Booooo.

C Goldstein

The NotMom Interview: Relationship Coach Christy Goldstein

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, and we define ourselves without the label of ‘Mom.’ You’re not a Mom, so, who are you?

TheNotMom writer and childfree blogger Laura LaVoie interviews women without children with public voices to learn their answers.

Laura says: At The NotMom Summit, we want to tackle important topics broadly shared by women without children by choice and by chance. Readers have shared their issues with navigating the dating scene as a woman who doesn’t want or can’t have children. When to discuss it with a potential partner? What happens if he or she wants kids? It can be a minefield. Relationship coach Christy Goldstein is a Summit speaker.

How did you get into relationship coaching?

I am always the go-to person for my friends’ relationship questions and problems. After writing for Your Tango and other websites for a few years, I decided to go for certification from World Coach Institute as a relationship and life coach so I could learn more about helping people and their love lives. At least now my friends don’t feel guilty about telling me every aspect of their love lives!

I am currently writing a book about dating and relationships and I just finished another book in a different genre, which I hope will be published later in 2015.

Do you consider yourself a NotMom? If so, are you a NotMom by Choice or by Chance?

I do consider myself a NotMom by choice. Even before I was diagnosed with EDS I never had that overwhelming urge to have kids. I never dreamed growing up just wanting to be a Mom and have a family. I feel my life is better spent helping others with their relationships and educating as many people as I can about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. 

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Every Pet Owner’s Nightmare: The Big C

By Laura LaVoie

The summer of 2014 wasn’t the best for Matt and me. An unwanted pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage and surgery, and then we thought we had put all of the negativity behind us.

We were so completely wrong.

After my surgery, Summer 2014 for us was a whirlwind. Trip after trip was planned. Our first trip came and went without a hitch, and we had less than a week until we headed out of town again.

An evening at home changed everything. Our sphynx cat, Piglet, snuggled against Matt’s hip as his arm encircled her. He stroked her chin. She squinted her happiness and pointed her nose upward for better scratching access.

“What’s up with Piglet’s face?” I asked. She didn’t look like herself — as she does in the photo above. Upon closer examination, we noticed a swelling around her jaw. So, we called the vet.  

On the day of Piglet’s appointment, I arrived at the clinic and sat nervously with my leashed and swaddled hairless cat.

“Her jaw is swollen,” I said.

“It may just be an abscessed tooth,” the vet replied casually as she glanced at Piglet’s face. But as soon as she got closer, her demeanor changed. “I’m worried it might be cancer.”

That possibility hadn’t even occurred to me.

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Are ‘Crotch Watermelons’ Yesterday’s ‘Crumbsnatchers?’

By Karen Malone Wright

Let’s start with the three things every reader should know about this blog and me:

1) I launched The NotMom in part because I believe women without children by choice and by chance have more in common than the stuff that is used to divide them.

2) My personal story: I’m a By Chance NotMom experienced in the full course of baby-related craving, then ambivalence, then grief, and ultimately a hard-scrabble acceptance.

3) I have little patience for ‘mean girl’, anti-Mom language and attitudes. My best friends, and probably yours, too, are Moms.

 Add that all together and perhaps you’ll understand why I had never heard the term “crotch watermelons” before this week, and why, once I had, I was horrified.

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Remembering Selena

By Karen Malone Wright

It’s really weird how selective my husband is about loving a movie enough to watch it every time it’s on. Me, I am an only child, which is generally synonymous with TV-lovin’ fool. All About Eve, The Color Purple, The Betty Broderick Story, The IncrediblesIt would take way too much time to count the titles and categories on my list of re-watchables.

As for my roommate, I can’t think of more than 7 or 8 flicks he watches again and again, including two World War II classics, two VietSelena movienam War classics, two Christmas favorites and one that’s in a category of its own. 

It’s Selena, the 1997 bio-pic about Selena Perez, one of the most adored Mexican American entertainers ever, played by Jennifer Lopez. The movie is credited with launching JLo’s career into supersonic stardom. Selena was headed there, too, until her murder on March 31, 1995, 20 years ago at age 23.

I can admit that it’s not a bad little movie (now that I’ve seen it 500 times), but the real Selena is hard to imitate.

childfree poster

Speaking Up for Women’s Other Big Choice: #Childfree

By Karen Malone Wright

May I just say that I was never in Debate Club? Not in high school; not in college. Looking back, I certainly should have been. Debating experience could be nothing but an asset in a public relations career managing public perceptions of my employer, whoever it was at the time. 

It’s the idea of arguing in support of the belief that you DON’T believe in that fascinates me most. I suppose it’s like a lawyer defending a client she knows is guilty, or sticking up for a friend or loved one who you know is actually in the wrong. 

All this comes to mind because of The NotMom’s commitment to represent and advocate for women without children by chance and by choice. The objective to help women connect with their sisters on the other side of the spectrum comes from acknowledgement that if we are  just one-fifth of American women, surely there is more that unites us than divides us.

Personally, it means that although I dreamed of spawning a houseful of little me’s and didn’t, I stick up for the women who never wanted children, too. I never pretend to know exactly how they made the decision to live childfree, but I do know they have the right to make it. I don’t have to be Russian to support Pussy Riot.

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When Babies Die Horrible Deaths, Childless Women Ask Why

By Karen Malone Wright

March 2015 has been a rough month for babies in the news. Over just nine days, Illinois, Colorado and Ohio checked in with horrifying headlines of mental illness linked to family, motherhood or the desire for it. Unfortunately, the adults in these stories are still alive; the babies aren’t.

Hearing this, mothers I know clutch their children tighter, unable to comprehend hows and whys, especially when a blood relative commits the crime. Their response is visceral, and I have never doubted that it comes from a place called Motherhood. When they imagine the abuse of a child, the lens is clouded with love for their own offspring.

Because I once dreamed, wished and prayed to be a Mom, my response comes from a place called Self. 

I am so not interested in debates of one place being better than the other. They are different from each other, and both are valid. Logically, Self may be more internal than vocal. It’s never socially acceptable to stand in the street and scream: 

“Why was this crazy woman given a baby? Why couldn’t that poor child have been mine to treasure and protect? Why her and not me?

Why me? Why not me?  Acceptance comes hard.

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Wellness for One: Three Self-Care Habits No Woman Should Live Without

By Samantha Pollack

In my 20s, I thought about self care about as much as I thought about the mortality rate in Malaysia…which is to say, never. I didn’t even know it was a thing.

 I mostly just worked, and drank, and went on trips I couldn’t afford, and saw like 80 bands in concert. I’m not saying I felt great – I had stomach aches almost every day, and panic attacks, and I was painfully lonely. But I was so busy working, and drinking, and going on trips I couldn’t afford, that I kind of ignored all that.

Then, in brazen romantic fashion, I up and left my $50,000- a-year job (with benefits), and moved to a town with a notoriously bleak job market, because I fell in love. I knew it would be hard, but I was more concerned with losing my tight circle of friends than I was with finding a job.

Plus, I had my man, the answer to my deepest, burning question. Finding him was so improbable, so serendipitous, so dazzling – it was like the Universe was showing off. So I figured, everything else was just details.

Like, making rent every month. Or not having to eat Beanie Weenies every day. I didn’t think much about retirement, down payments, or car insurance in my twenties, either.

So. With no job prospects and no savings, I decided starting a business was a GREAT IDEA.

Four years later, My stress level is off the charts. I have insomnia, and a number of other offshoot issues due to lack of sleep. My body hurts from hunching over the computer. Suddenly, self-care is what I think about ALL THE TIME.