baby envy

A Child-Free Woman’s Challenge: When Girlfriends Become Momfriends

By Karen Malone Wright

There’s a quaint practice in journalism and creative writing that makes the publication, whatever it is, suddenly interactive. “Dear Reader”, it begins. Yes, You! This, my dears, is one of those moments.

I’ve been emailing for some time with a woman offering to share her story with you as a Guest Post. As is frequently the case, a particular, but common experience churned her emotions to the point that she wanted to ‘write them out’. Because it’s 2014, it’s easier for her to find outlets where her tale would resonate, and she chose

And that’s when she ran into trouble. How to describe the real-life situation, and her justifiable reactions to it, without sounding whiny or self-centered? Everyone who’s ever felt like an outsider knows the challenge. No matter the words you choose to describe it, the message sounds childish in your own ears: They won’t play with me! Juvenile, perhaps; hurtful nevertheless.

Let’s call this reader Genevieve. She’s given up trying to write a guest post. Instead, she’s asked us to “post an article about Moms/NotMoms friendships”.  I can do that. We have done that. But this time, I’m throwing out the challenge for earnest responses to you, our Dear Readers.

Genevieve’s first email to me, and its follow-up, is below. Read it, then speak to her directly by leaving a comment. I believe the sheer understanding that she is neither alone nor unreasonable in her feelings will do Genevieve a world of good.

“My name is Genevieve. I’m married, a NotMom by choice. I’m 47 and I live in Florida. I am a fur baby mom, of two.  

I just got back from “girls weekend,” and the other three ladies were all moms. I was excluded from most of the conversation… was about kids, their growing pains, feelings, etc. I was wanting to write about my experience, and how unfair it was, that I felt excluded from part of the weekend because I was not a mom, and because I voiced that I had no regrets about my choice. “

And later, 
“So I’ve been sitting here for 3 days, staring at the computer, trying to write this story. Every time I read what I wrote, I just feel like I’m whining and complaining! I’m not having any luck whatsoever writing my feelings down onto paper. I wish I had recorded what I told my husband about it when I returned!!!” 
diaper changing

The Inconvenience of Public Dirty Diapers

By Laura LaVoie

I have been shocked of late at the sheer number of news stories that seem to be showcasing some people’s poor decision-making skills when it comes to their children in public.  Specifically, I am referring to dirty diapers. Two particularly disturbing stories come immediately to mind.

August 2014: A Texas woman was asked to leave a family pizza restaurant after she changed her child’s dirty diaper in the dining room in full view of multiple restaurant patrons. When she didn’t find a changing table in the rest room, she decided to use a chair at her table instead.

September 2014: A Midwest mother found herself in the same situation — no changing tables in the Chipotle ladies room. While the Texas mother was changing a 4-month old baby, this time it was a child over one year old who might be able to stand while a diaper was being changed. Instead, the mother decided that a table in the dining room, in the view of everyone else enjoying their bean burritos, was the right choice.

kale squash

Wellness for One or Two: Harvest Time Meals

By Samantha Pollack

Creating healthy meals for the child-free should be easy, right? No kids whining about eating their broccoli, or refusing to eat anything that isn’t mac and cheese.

It should be easy, but small families actually have a harder time with this than their procreating friends. The main problem boils down to portions. Not all vegetables are available in single servings. (Sadly, you can’t just get four basil leaves.)

Once you’ve made your dining-for-one recipe, you’re often left with a whole lot of random food that usually goes bad before you can think of another use for it. The solution to this problem is the same as all my solutions – PLANNING.

When you write out your meal plan, make it a point to use recipes with similar ingredients, like the Winter Green Salad and Harvest Hash below. Both dishes use diced butternut squash, so you won’t waste any. Plus, you’ll be taking advantage of the “cook once, eat twice” strategy that’s key for small kitchens.

Spend an hour in the kitchen, and you’ll have lunch every day for about five days. Enjoy!

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?

Peanuts Halloween

Child-Free Holidays: There’s No Great Easter Bunny Either, Charlie Brown

Guest Post by Beth O’Donnell

The funniest part of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is the gang comparing treats after every house they visited. Candy, gum, pennies.  

“I got a rock.”

I know how you feel, Charlie Brown. Except I got soap.  You were right about one thing, though: there is no Great Pumpkin. I found out the hard way that there is no Easter Bunny either.

Charlie Brown was a good brother, ridiculously overjoyed by his sister’s birth. I’ll stop likening us to Charlie Brown now, before we’re down to the lovable loser with no charm or athletic skills.

This might not be true for every PANK (Professional Aunt, No Kids) but I cherish being a sister more than auntie. I’m shocked and wounded when someone asks, “Do you have a family?” then corrects my “Yes” with, “I meant kids.”

My oldest sister, let’s call her Sally, because she is nothing like Lucy (and in case she reads this) got promoted to matriarch when my mother died, 30 years ago. However, maternal duties were thrust upon her before her First Communion. As a child, I did not like that very much. As a child, nor did she.

Then she got married at 21, moved out of the house and became a wonderful person.  Loving, caring, protective. Nice even. Who knew? Not this little sister.

 “Sally” exercises her maternal privilege to host all the major holidays. (NotMoms host Bastille Day.) Part of our sisterly bond is a shared preference for sweets. She exercises restraint. Me? Let’s just say living alone means the chocolate and peanut butter in Reese’s Minis constitute a balanced meal.

Sally has the good stuff, no matter what holiday: gigantic bags of Halloween candy; Great Pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving; Christmas cookies, Valentine’s Day chocolates; Easter jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, robin’s eggs, butter cream eggs, coconut cracked eggs… no book or DVD substitution crap for big Sis.

I can’t speak for the rest of my siblings—who cook and eat real food—but the goodies are a major incentive for getting me to drive to the suburbs, and I really need one. In my entire life, I only lived in the suburbs once, for seven months. I gained 15 pounds. Not going there again.

Truthfully, the reason I go is because I am the youngest. If Sally gets to be the Mom, I get to be the kid. Plus, with Sally, I don’t have to wear a mask. Or a sheet with eyeholes.

The last time I trekked to the other side of hell, my niece (31), her brother (28), and their respective soon-to-be-betrotheds, were both home—a rare occurrence. Shockingly, Sally didn’t fill Easter baskets. No dyed eggs (blech) even.

Easter is officially scarier than Halloween.

S Weaver

Why Is Sigourney Weaver Talking About Katharine Hepburn’s Uterus?

By Karen Malone Wright

When a serpentine creature first exploded out of an astronaut’s abdomen in Alien, the year was 1979 and I was sitting in a movie theater in Washington, DC screaming. That scene is famous now, and it helped to earn the movie an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. The big news was the female lead — daring stuff for outer space in 1979. Ellen Ripley, the protagonist perfectly played by Sigourney Weaver, continues to be analyzed for her relevance to science fiction, film, feminism and faith.

Ms. Weaver went on to become a sort of sci-fi demi-queen, starring in three Alien sequels, Ghostbusters, Avatar, The Village, and my personal favorite (I bought it), Galaxy Quest.  I have loved myself some Sigourney!

I say all this to make it clear, and believable, that I sat at my desk with my mouth agape this week after clicking on this headline and tease, presented to me by Google Alerts:

“Sigourney Weaver ‘feels sorry’ for Katherine (sic) Hepburn”

and then,

“Sigourney Weaver ”feels sorry” for actresses who don’t have children.”

Silly me. I thought there must be some mistake.

NM PURCH-Travel2

A Childfree Vacation Planning Guide

By Laura LaVoie

While Matt and I are currently preparing for a trip to London, England with two other childfree friends, I thought I might catalog some of the things that we have done to prepare for this adventure.

I am the first to admit that I am not a big fan of little kids, so avoiding them as much as possible is one of the best ways for me to enjoy a vacation. Here are some of the things I’ve been keeping in mind while preparing my itinerary:

  • Keep school schedules in mind. We arrive in London on a Tuesday morning and come home the following Thursday for a total of 10 days. Because most of our experiences will happen during the week, we can steer clear of children as much as possible since they should be in school during the day. This means daytime hours are the best times to hit up popular attractions.
  • Avoid child-heavy activities. We decided since we are visiting London we should do it up tourist style and ride the London Eye. I was excited to see they were featuring seasonal events, including Halloween storytelling. Since I love Halloween so much, I was really tempted to go for it. But then I realized that the event was definitely geared toward children. We decided to do the champagne experience instead.
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.

Sadness african amercan woman

Sometimes, ‘This Is Who I Am’ Isn’t Enough

By Karen Malone Wright

As you might imagine, I spend a good deal of time soaking in wisdom from people I believe know more than I do about building a successful blog and online community (AKA turning your passion into a full-time, income generating job). I have a notebook full of scribbles to prove that they have shared invaluable advice on a variety of topics.

I’ve just realized there’s one question I keep forgetting to ask The Smarter Ones, and perhaps that’s because I assume I can predict their answers, that boil down to either A) It’s just another chance to sell yourself; or B) Who gives a sh–?

The question is, “What’s a good response to people who say they just don’t get it?”


Small-Batch Kitchen: Help for Cooks with Little Time or Experience

By Faye Davenport

Recently I was watching a talk show conversation where the guest was an actress who plays one of my all-time favorite characters on one of my will-be-for-all-time favorite television series. Pauley Perrette plays forensic scientist Abbie Scuito on the CBS hit, NCIS, and the ladies of The Talk were teasing her about a life-size cutout of herself.

There is nothing, of course, unusual about life-size cutouts of celebrities, but there must have been some inside joke. Everyone at the table was having a laugh and Perrette told them that she had that cutout in her house. She said that she had it in the kitchen, where the stove would be.

P Perrette NCIS

Perrette in NCIS mode

“Where normal people have a stove,” Ms. Perrette said, “I have the cutout.” 

Wait? What?

I don’t know how the rest of the interview went because my mind was trying to grasp the concept of a home with no stove. That means that not only does one never cook, but doesn’t even entertain the thought of ever cooking.

All of my friends cook. Not each of them is culinarily gifted (yeah, I made that up), but all of them have dishes that they make, even if just for themselves. And, yes, I’m counting fried bologna sandwiches.

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