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.
Childfree blogger Laura LaVoie interviews women bloggers without children who answer the question, “If you’re not a Mom, then what are you?
As Laura prepared for a geeky Labor Day weekend at Dragon Con 2013 in Atlanta, she met with blogger Sarah Giavedoni, half of the blogging team for Stuff Monsters Like. To get a feel for the kinds of antics Sarah and her blog partner Jimmy get into, check out this video for their Kickstarter campaign to buy the moon, build a rocket, and record a folk album.
Tell us about yourself and your blog.
I moved to Asheville [North Carolina] in 2004 to attend UNC Asheville, and after graduating, I refused to leave. In 2010, I went through a spell of unemployment, and tried to use the time to build up skills that would complement my communications major and experience in event planning and marketing. A good friend suggested that I start a blog to help keep myself busy (and keep my mind off my dwindling savings account).
Now, I run several blogs, of varying degrees of activity. My first and primary blog is StuffMonstersLike.com. The site is a satirical blog dedicated to showcasing the common themes and tropes that have carried down from monster stories over the years. In addition to our “numbered posts,” SML posts celebrity interviews, monster and horror news, and reviews of horror and sci-fi books, movies, and music. The blog is also the proud sponsor of Intergalactic Hug A Monster Day and the prestigious annual Monstey Awards.
What’s your current life situation?
I am a young woman in my mid-to-late twenties. I like to say I’m a snobby intellectual with a whimsical side. I am single (technically) and live alone. No pets, no kids, no interest.
I have recently finished three long years of being over-employed and underpaid, meaning I had three or four part-time jobs that together didn’t pay a living wage. It was a very anxiety-ridden time for me, since I am solely responsible for all my bills.
In July 2013, I began a new position at a marketing firm in downtown Asheville. The job single-handedly cured my financial anxiety. (And I love the position, who I work with, and the personal growth it affords me!) I am on my way to paying off my debt, and hopefully saving up for a home of my own someday.
After so long feeling off track of my own goals, I am really proud and excited to be able to focus on what I want for myself, instead of just whether or not I will make rent each month.
What made you decide to start Stuff Monsters Like?
On Halloween 2010, during my unemployment spell, Stuff Monsters Like debuted online. The blog was inspired by a cheesy movie and viral website. My co-writer and I were watching The Wolfman (2010), and noticed that we’d seen a lot of those plot points and movie tropes before. I had been re-reading the site Stuff White People Like earlier that day. At a certain scene in the movie, when the wolfman runs across the rooftops of London, we were making jokes about the scene, and I said, “This happens all the time. Someone should start a website about stuff monsters like, and add that to the list.”
And a monster was born.
Do you feel you are treated differently as a woman without children and if so, how?
That’s a tricky question to answer in a city like Asheville. This is a city of many vices, and also a city that attracts young families, for whatever reason. I have found very few businesses (and by that I mean bars) in town that suit my young professional mentality, but don’t also attract couples with children. In some respects, I would actually prefer to find a nice, respectable place that singles out the young and childless, if it means I can go grab a beer after work without tripping over crying toddlers and women breastfeeding at the bar.
On a more personal level, your late 20s seem to be that time in life when all the single friends who made it through college without getting married, decide to settle down and start families. Friends who vowed to never have children are changing their minds. My little sister recently married and is expecting her first child before the holidays. My mother says I might as well come pick up all my old kids books, because as soon as “those hormones” kick in I’ll change my mind and decide to have children, too.
What bothers me is not that I am different from everyone else (I’ve always felt different), or that I am treated differently. What bothers me is this expectation that one day I will change who I am and give up what I want for myself to have children and conform to this social expectation. It’s the look of pity and impatience that people give me, followed almost immediately by, “Well, you just don’t understand yet. When you have children, you’ll see how great it is.”
What defines you and your life?
I like to believe that I define myself and my life. No one else.
I am a woman of many skills, and many interests. I value my friendships, and I look forward to finding someone who wants to share a future with me. I am a hard worker, and I am active in my community. I have learned to be choosy about how I spend my time, so that I can give my all to each of my favorite interests. Everything I do, I do because I see value in it.
My biggest fear is that I will have to wake up every day and cater to someone else’s needs instead of my own.
What are your hopes for the future, both personally and for Stuff Monsters Like?
In my research of blogs and bloggers, I have found that writing is a difficult hobby to sustain. Most bloggers give up fairly quickly, some after only a few posts. I have a lot of little goals for SML. There is even a book in the works. But, my biggest goal is to keep it going, to watch it evolve, and to learn from the discipline that comes from writing and editing and posting and tweeting and commenting and reading and researching on a regular basis.
For myself, I’ve never expected much – at least by the standards of all my over-achieving peers. My sister asked me once in high school what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I wanted to be happy. Right now, as I settle into this new job, pay off my debt, and start saving for a cute little house of my own, I am happier than I have been in years. When I get restless again, I will find something new to make me happy. And I will work towards that.
What message do you want to send to our readers about being a by-choice NotMom?
Being a mother is not the only way to enrich your life. There are millions of community organizations to join, strangers to meet, places to travel, and cocktails to drink. If you’re not satisfied with where you are in life, there’s nothing wrong with that. Most people aren’t. But, don’t let your in-laws or college buddies or co-workers make you feel like your decision for yourself is invalid.
The biological imperative does not hold anymore. Scientists agree that the globe is at least 50% overpopulated. You’re not responsible for producing the next heir to the throne. You don’t need seven children to work your 100-acre farmstead. And the public education system sucks. If you don’t want kids, why should you be forced into that life?
What message would you like to share with advertisers who seem to ignore our demographic?
For every family night that you advise, promote a kids-free night, too. Please.
Laura says it was a pleasure to speak with NotMom and occasional monster, Sarah. If you’re a child-free blogger, consider sharing your story to help other NotMoms know they’re not alone.