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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.

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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.

M C Mistretta

The NotMom Interview: Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, Author of ‘On the Guest List’

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, and so, with the ‘Mom” label out of the way, we share the many other components that make us who we are.

In this series, TheNotMom writer and childfree blogger Laura LaVoie interviews women without children with public voices who answer the question, “If you’re not a Mom, then what are you?”

Right now, we’re focused on preparations for The NotMom Summit on October 9-10, 2015. By introducing our presenters and speakers here, you’ll get an idea of what to expect at the conference, and their levels of expertise. Meet Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, an editor, author, and speaker. At the Summit, she will join a panel discussing creative, effective ways to respond to unsolicited comments about your uterus (such as, “Oh, you’ll change your mind!” or “I bet you’ll get pregnant next time – you just have to try harder!”).

Tell us about yourself, your business, and your book.

In a nutshell, I’m basically a happy-go-lucky person with a lust for life. I love music and consider myself a healthy foodie. I’m also a happily married NotMom.

I started my business, Pear Tree Enterprises in 2008 after being fed up with dealing with gossip and negativity at regular jobs. I wanted to pick and choose the people I work with. Pear Tree started as an umbrella of my talents, but it’s evolved into three major things I love best: being an author, public speaker and book editor.

And my book: On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalism is available on Amazon. It’s a positive recollection of some fun memories. It’s a quick read and unlike many rock memoirs, there is no depressing downward spiral. Nor is it a groupie tell-all. It’s just an upbeat book that almost any music fan could appreciate.

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.

birthday cake

Only As Old As I Feel: Reflections on Turning 40… Childfree

By Laura LaVoie

I belong to a number of Facebook groups. There is a particular group for my local area that was intended to be a place to buy and sell items and get local recommendations. It has, over the years, devolved into a snark-fest, as communities on the Internet often do.

I’m OK with this. Sometimes I even participate. In truth, you can still get some great recommendations if you can weed through the sarcasm. Recently, I asked about the best places in town to get great salads. And let the snark begin.

People lectured me on how salad can’t actually help you lose weight, which of course I know. Others said it would be too expensive to eat salads out every night, to which I replied that I wasn’t planning on doing it every night. Otherwise, I got some great responses. Until this one from a complete stranger:

“Maybe you’re pregnant.”

I immediately fired off a reply. “Lord, no! I’m 40 years old and childfree by choice. I’d rather be fat than pregnant!”

Her response? She was sorry but my profile picture looks like I’m in my 20s. I guess I ought to take the entire exchange as a compliment.

UK Mothers

Anna & Constance: The Women Behind ‘Mothering Sunday’

By Karen Malone Wright

Reader comments show that women without children have a full range of reactions to Mother’s Day. From sitting alone in the dark to not noticing the day is different from any other, we’re all over the place.

For American NotMoms who do have negative reactions to Mother’s Day each May, imagine having that experience twice each year instead of just once. Yeah.

Send a hug to your NotMom sisters in the United Kingdom, because March 15, 2015 is Mothering Sunday.

junk drawer

Wellness for One (or Two): Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets (and the Tools to Toss)

By Samantha Pollack

I spend a whole lot of time in my kitchen, as you may have noticed. I love love love to cook – but that doesn’t mean I want to get all fancy and complicated every night. I’m a busy lady, my kitchen is pretty small, and I don’t own a dishwasher, soooo….

Let’s just say, I value simplicity. I like a kitchen gadget that has multiple uses and doesn’t take two hours to clean. With that in mind, there are a few items I couldn’t live without, and you might need to get on board with them.

On the flipside, there are some other kitchen tools which are totally overrated. I’ll give you the skinny on those as well.

Sam’s Favorite Kitchen Tools

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Not All Moms are Good Moms: Are You Watching Bates Motel?

By Laura LaVoie

This week was the return of A&E’s horror prequel series Bates Motel. I came late to the Bates party, but now I have binge-watched the first two seasons on Netflix. Each only has 10 episodes, so it wasn’t hard to do. And I was immediately hooked.

A&E is doing an amazing job telling a story where we already know the ending.

The show centers on Norma Bates and her son, Norman. She named her son after herself which, while not inherently bad, does demonstrate an unhealthy attachment in their particular relationship. The show is a tragedy from start to finish, and every problem seems to stem from huge mistakes by Norma.

Proceed with caution if you prefer to go unspoiled about the first two seasons.

G Scouts week

Girl Scout Week: The Legacy of a Childless Woman

By Karen Malone Wright

In 2015, March 8-15 is Girl Scout Week, a very big deal on the annual Girl Scout calendar. There’s Girl Scout Sunday, Girl Scout Sabbath, and {trumpet fanfare} Girl Scout Birthday. Now 103 years old, the organization is challenged by the Internet, competition for funding and the contemporary, diverse needs and desires of urban, rural and suburban girls.

I’m one of an estimated 60 million women living in the U.S. today who are Girl Scout alumnae. That’s why I’ve known since 3rd grade that March 12 is the day that Juliette Low of Savannah, Georgia founded the Girl Scouts.

I think I read every biography of her in the kids’ section of the library. I remember learning that after she met the founder of the Boy Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell, she was determined to replicate that group for girls.

I remember how much I loved Juliette Low when I was a girl. I loved her name. I loved her nickname, ‘Daisy.’ I loved my imaginings of Savannah and the feisty girl who redefined what girls could do. What I didn’t know (or didn’t remember) is that Juliette was a NotMom. She launched waves of budding feminists upon 1900’s America, keeping the struggles of her own childlessness and openly troubled marriage to herself.

badge Cleveland

Imagination to Reality: A Major Conference for Childless & Childfree Women

By Laura LaVoie

In February 2015, Karen Malone Wright, founder & executive editor at TheNotMom, publicly shared her thoughts about kicking off The NotMom Summit. Finally! A two-day conference for women without children on October 9-10, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. I had known about the plans for a while, and I was biting my tongue because all I wanted to do was shout the news from the rooftops.

Toward the end of 2014, Karen asked me to help her organize the event and I was elated. I still am. This is the culmination of a dream.

Then, I remembered I wrote about a NotMomCon back in 2013:

“I have been thinking a lot these days about community. I’m involved in a few different communities relevant to my interests. As a tiny house builder and dweller, I am part of the Tiny House Community. As a lifelong fan of science fiction and other nerdy endeavors I am part of Geek Culture. I am also part of my local Asheville (NC) blogger community. And, the beer drinking community.

Community is one of the most important things to me.

A Ludgate

Parks & Recreation’s Troubling Storyline: April Ludgate, Flip-Flopper

By Laura LaVoie

This post contains spoilers about the 2015 series finale of NBC’s Parks and Recreation. If you have not yet seen the episode and wish to remain completely unspoiled, I recommend bookmarking this post and reading it after.

If you continue reading, you have been warned.

I fell in love with the entire cast of Parks and Recreation by the second season. While it took some time for the show to find its center, it was well worth my time to stick with it. And I particularly loved the character of April Ludgate, played by actress Aubrey Plaza (above).

April was the poster child for quirky girls who feel out of place among “normal” people. While I didn’t specifically share the darker aspects of April’s character I felt connected to her story as she evolved in the series. I’m a lifelong geek who never felt like I fit in when I was younger.

That was why I was very disappointed by the way the series finale treated her.

April never wanted children. In fact, she mentioned it about halfway through the series. Back in an episode that aired in 2013, the premise revolved around a mystery pregnancy test. April rejects the idea that the pregnancy test could have been hers when she declares, “I wanna wait until we’re 50 and then adopt a set of creepy adult twins from Romania.”

So I continued to watch Parks and Rec with the understanding that April was a bit more like me.

That is, until the series finale.

NM PURCH dog money

Wealthy and Childless: It’s Always News When Pets Inherit

By Karen Malone Wright

I saw this headline go by on February 19, 2015 from the Hindustan Times

Raebareli Couple to Leave Property Worth Millions to Pet Monkey

OK, I thought. I don’t know where Raebareli is, but you do you. Then, Google Alerts delivered a more clarifying header from Nigeria’s Guardian News

Monkey Set to Inherit Fortune from Childless Indian Couple

Raebareli, I learned, is a city in India’s Uttar Pradesh State. And the story of Shabista and Brijesh Srivastava and their beloved monkey buzzed across the Internet. Even The Washington Post and Wall St. Journal took notice.

“People might say we are mad, they might even ridicule us. But we know how valuable Chunmun is to us. We are childless and Chunmun is a son to me,” Shabista, 45, told reporters.

Well, obviously. But haven’t we heard this story before?