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?”
Emily Timbol is a writer and blogger (Emily Timbol’s Blog) whose work has appeared in Huffington Post, Red Letter Christians, and other publications. She has also appeared on radio and podcasts talking about life, faith, and anything else she can think of. She is working on publishing her first book, Leaving the Religious Lifestyle. On top of all of this, Emily is a NotMom.
How does your faith affect your life as a childfree woman?
My faith plays a big part of my life. I’m someone who wants my faith to shine through in who I am and what I do. Not in a preachy, “Let me tell you about Jesus” way, more of a, “Let me show you that not all Christians are what they seem to be in the news” kind of way.
I’m an LGBT advocate, and a lot of my writing is dedicated to trying to change the church’s treatment and perception of LGBT people, especially LGBT Christians. Really diving into the Bible and theology, and learning about how God views sexuality, marriage, procreation and all that, is a big part of what makes me confident that it’s not a sin to be childfree. I’m not disobeying God’s commandment to “be fruitful and multiply,” because that wasn’t a commandment at all. It was a blessing given to both man and the birds of the air and fish of the sea. Children are a blessing for many Christian couples, but not all and I think that He blesses childfree women in different ways. I feel blessed in the ways He’s brought me closer to him through my work in the LGBT community.
Also, as far as for the idea of being responsible for the religious upbringing of another person or persons, that is really kind of weird to me. I would never want to force anyone to believe anything, my potential kids included. I believe strongly that your religious beliefs should be your choice, but how you reconcile that with being an authority figure and wanting your kid to go to church with you and follow the same morals you have, that’s tricky. I’m good with being responsible for my faith, but the faith of another person, that is another thing about having kids I’m not sure I could handle.
Tell us about yourself and your blog.
When I was 25, I reached out to an author whose book I read, Angry Conversations with God, and she and I struck up a friendship, a kind of mentor/mentee relationship. I’d always loved to write; short stories as a kid, a screenplay in college, stuff like that, but I never thought of myself as a “writer.” But, when I started talking to Susan Isaacs, the author of Angry Conversations, she really boldly said, “You’re a writer. You need to write.” It opened up this whole world to me I hadn’t believed I was worthy of, and it changed my life. Gave me purpose and direction, which I had none of at the time.
She encouraged me to start the blog. It was much different back when I started it, I actually started blogging first about this 40-day fast I did, which, looking back, was fairly insane, but the process of blogging about that every day made me realize how much I liked writing and sharing my thoughts and experiences.
Now, it’s more just a blog where I share my opinions on current events, religion, politics, and stories about things that happen to me that are either funny or moving. Sometimes both. A recent post was about meeting one of my heroes, David Sedaris, and how that didn’t go quite like I planned. I would love to be able to blog daily or every other day like some bloggers, but it’s hard when you have a “day job.”
How do you describe your life?
My life is very good. I consider myself extremely blessed. It’s a fairly normal life–I work full time in IT, I’m married to a man that is my best friend and the person I most want to spend my time with. I have a dog that I’m probably too obsessed with, I live in a great neighborhood, have good friends, all that.
I think the thing though that probably makes me a bit different is that I am actively trying to pursue a career in writing. I’m realistic: I know I might not ever be able to support myself from writing, or quit my day job, but I want to become an author that has some kind of audience. I think that passion for something creative, or “outside the normal” is a dream a lot of people have, of just making a living, having a family and being happy. It’s probably something that defines me and my life. I’m definitely driven by a desire to “make it” whatever that means.
As a woman without children, how do you feel you are treated by society?
I think because I’m still relatively young, and was recently married less than two years ago, society hasn’t really treated me all that different yet. I do expect though, in a couple years, when I’m over 30, that questions and nudges and awkward conversations will become more frequent. I’ve already had to deflect a few well-meaning friends and family members who have just assumed that my husband and I will have kids, when we really at this point could go either way, but are probably leaning more towards not having any.
I think once I get closer to the age where I “should” have kids, it will be harder. Especially since we’re Christians. That adds a whole extra level to the expectations by church and religious society. I will say that I can already see how society, both secular and religious, just assumes that all women either have or want children, and are or will eventually be moms, which is a bit weird for me, someone who just does not have that desire. At least, not at this time.
What do you want our readers or advertisers to know about childfree women?
The number one thing I want people to know is that it’s not automatically “selfish” to choose to be childfree. And, that it is entirely possible to choose to have children out of a selfish desire, or to be entirely selfish once you have them. You can be selfish with or without kids.
I think many women who choose to be childfree are actually doing a good thing, because no one should take on the huge task of parenthood unless they truly desire children. That’s not the kind of thing you just do, “because it’s what you do.” There needs to be intentionality about that choice, not ambivalence. For me, the childfree women I know have put an incredible amount of thought into having kids, what being a mom means, what their entire life would look like. It’s not just “having a baby”; it’s, “Would I be a good mother to a teenage girl?” Questions like that.
A lot of articles and media have put forth this image of women lounging on the beach, sipping fruity drinks, or cavorting around in heels with arms full of shopping bags, saying, “Oh, no kids for me, please, I’m too busy and selfish.” I don’t think that’s really fair to women like me, who aren’t seeking this amazing childfree life filled with things I could never do if I had kids. I think you can do almost anything with kids you can do without them.
I am choosing to be childfree because I understand how huge a commitment having kids is, and I don’t know if I have it in me to be that intentional, patient, and loving, all day every day, for basically forever. That kind of responsibility is really scary to me.
We thank Emily for taking the time to speak with us. Now, it is your turn! We want to hear from more bloggers who happen to be NotMoms. Contact us to share your story.