December 24, 2010

A Message From Down Under

An unexpected email from a Purple Woman in Australia was the best gift I could have received this Christmas. It convinces me that just posting a new article once or twice a year is not enough effort to keep the content and value of this 2-year intensive blog project alive. My big task for the new year is to take steps to preserve it, so that it will continue to provide a measured, balance perspective on what it is to be a Purple Woman. It is empowering to be self-defined.

She has given me permission to share this letter to herself.

Madeline's Story: A Letter to Myself

Today is the beginning of a new outlook on life. This weekend we made the decision to not continue on the IVF path. Not next year. Not ever.

For me it is also a conscious decision not to continue on the ‘infertility’ path.  That may sound strange, because technically we will remain, by definition, ‘infertile’.  But today, and every day from now on, this is not how we define ourselves.

Spending our emotional energy, our time and our money trying to bring ‘something’ into our life implies that there is something missing.  And that is what has kept us on the IVF roller coaster and turned both of us – I guess me especially – into anxious and (if I’m being honest with myself) at times unhappy people. What I have come to realise this week is that there is nothing missing.

We have a loving, fun, deeply committed relationship and we have a choice to make.  So many of our choices have been made for us that I almost forgot the one we can still make – we can choose not to define ourselves by what we don’t have.  We can choose to get off the emotional rollercoaster that is ivf. We can choose to embrace a different life. Not a lesser life, but a different one…maybe even a fuller one.

Yesterday I read that ‘There is only so much time in a day, a week, a lifetime, and if we don't raise children, perhaps we "raise" something else.’  Something about this blog excerpt resonated with me because, deep down, I know that I have something significant to contribute to this world. And I know that we both can make a mark, as individuals or as a couple.  And that mark isn’t going to be children. But it will be something just as meaningful.  We might change the life of people less fortunate than us.  We might find a way to bring light into dark times that other people suffer through. And through doing this we will probably learn, in a deeper way than we now recognise, that we are so very lucky to be two healthy, bright, driven people.

Apart from leaving a mark on this world, there are smaller – but significant – ways that we can embrace our life and be happy that we have made this choice.  We will have a freedom that other people cannot.  We can have dinner at 9pm on a Tuesday night over candlelight and a bottle of wine. We can nurture our love in a selfish, indulgent way.  We can come home at midnight after a night out with friends… no babysitter, no guilt. I can pursue a fulfilling career without the guilt of having to divide my energies and time.  I can continue singing and musical theatre and the joy that brings without feeling overcommitted.  We can go on extravagant or adventurous holidays every year. Every year. No putting it off. No having to find ‘child friendly’ hotels.  No waiting until school holidays.  We can explore other cultures and learn new things. We can take a whole year off work if we want to and travel the world (well, maybe later when we can afford it). We can go for long walks holding each other’s hands, ending up at a cocktail bar on the river if that’s what we feel like. We can enjoy the simple things in life…good food, good wine, expensive restaurants, lazy Sunday afternoon wines.

We don’t need anybody else in our lives to be fulfilled. There are many things that can ‘complete’ someone and there are many expressions of our love for each other.  In the past, I was so sad that our beautiful love would never be reflected in a child. What I am focused on now is nurturing and protecting that love and having fun with it.   There are other things that our love will be weaved into.  We might volunteer overseas together… we might give something back in a way that others can’t.  Importantly, we can move forward without resentment of other people’s fortune. Because we are going to be fortunate in other ways. We are going to feel fulfilled and satisfied and free. We are going to make a difference. We are going to focus our energies on our marriage, on our own identities and passions, and on our friends – some that we have, some that we will meet.

Most importantly, we will feel whole and happy because we have a deep love that we can spend every day investing our time and energy into and nothing will compromise that.

[Editor's note: This Purple Woman's name has been changed to protect her privacy. 
Special thanks to Flickr member Wim Mulder for sharing his photo via Creative commons. CC]

For more information about the choice to be childfree, read through the archived posts on this blog (hint: you will find them sorted by topic in the sidebar), or visit Laura Scott's "Childless by Choice Project". Laura is an author and filmmaker and a former contributing editor of this blog.

June 17, 2010

Purple Women Love Opera

I and my Purple girlfriend shared accommodations, gas expense, and driving duty driving to L.A. to attend the Opera Conference last week.

I didn't reflect upon the fact that not only were we both childfree, but so was our hostess, as well as the other lady friend we connected with while we were down there. The long drive home up I-5 gives one ample time for pondering such things.

My CF status is neither forward, nor hidden, it simply is a fact. It has taken years to get to that place emotionally and mentally. Two years of reading every book I could find on the subject, and blogging about it on this site, helped me get there. It is a good place to be. I no longer actively seek friends who are Purple like me, I gravitate towards them naturally. I have friends on both sides of the fence. I simply have more in common with those who are not parents with kids at home.

Being involved with my local opera company, on a volunteer basis, brings me into close association with a lot of retired folks whose children are grown. I have been told they have daughters my age. Age is something else I do not think about when making friends. This has served me well all my life.

There is only so much time in a day, a week, a lifetime, and if we don't raise children, perhaps we "raise" something else. It could be any cause, group, or a business. It opens up a world of possibilities, or as we like to say at Livermore Valley Opera, "opera-tunities".

June 06, 2010

Purple Again

People used to ask me why "purple" women? It's a long story. Unless you for some unknown reason hate that color, the term when used to modify the word "woman" is relatively neutral, and begs definition. I propose that it was open to definition.

The short answer is "I like to be self-defined, so I created my own label." Too often women without children, either by choice or by accepting their circumstance, struggle with society's labels for them. Childless or childfree, or child-free like smoke-free and ozone-free?

When I began this blog, three years ago, I was living out of the country, connected only by phone and the Internet with loved ones and friends. My husband were uprooted and living in Toronto, Canada for two years while he completed his work assignment abroad. Our relationship was in a little Petrie dish of life. It was interesting to see what would grow, including some wonderful friendships. We, as a couple really had to put some thought and effort into making those connections. I established this blog in the relative comfort of that big, world class city that makes it all too easy to be anonymous.

I have to admit, as we transitioned back home, to a small, suburban town with rural roots in Northern California, I was not too keen on being so out of the closet as a Purple Woman. It was my husband's home town after all, and as small as the one I grew up in. "Better to blend in" was my thinking. In reality, that has never been possible for me, almost everywhere I've been. I have instead embraced "not fitting in" as a personal motto.

I have evolved so much in the last five years. This blog was a big part of that emotional journey. And that's just the middle part of my story. Stay tuned!

May 01, 2010


Many moons since my last post, but since I feel strongly that this topic and the content of this blog, a two year journey taken by not just me but in concert with more than a dozen other guest contributors, is very, very relevant.

I have been exploring the capabilities and the whys and wherefores of social networking, and have been inspired by their viral capabilities to network to individuals and organizations in the last year. When I saw that they added Networked Blogs as a new feature, I immediately began experimenting with my current professional blog, one that I created to help promote and fosters support for our local opera company.

In order to get the feed "pulled" (no I don't really know what all these tech terms mean), I have to have posts within the last 30 days. So, I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

This blog represents a significant accomplishment, technically, semi-professionally, and personally. Not an easy topic to discuss with level heads and opposing viewpoints.

I am damn proud of this blog.

April 02, 2008


This journey has come to an end for me. I have to follow my heart, because life is not all about blogging. Sometimes you just have to log off and simply live it. When I started this blog, I thought I would write a book. I decided to focus on blogging instead.

Purple WomenTM is my trademark, yet I admit I know not what to do with it from here. I have reached a turning point in this project. It has served its purpose. I decided not to invest the time in publishing a book. Nor do I have ambitions to turn this into a revenue stream. Is anyone out there really marketing to childfree women? (Okay, I could turn that into a longer post, but it is time to close the door on this project, as new ones have opened for me!)

To my fellow bloggers, especially contributors to this site, Guest Posters and Regular Contributors alike, a huge thanks for blogging along and exploring the childfree topic with me these past few years. I'd like to think we helped our Co-Contributing Editor, Laura Scott along her path to actually publishing her book. She announced recently that she has secured a publisher. Wish her well, and please check in at her website from time to time: The Childless-By-Choice Project.

The comments will remain open and monitored by me, the Creator and Editor of this unique blog, however, without new posts our readership will drop off and Blogger will only continue to host this site as long as there are visitors. At some point, all our work here will be deleted by a mindless robot (aieeeeee!!!). We have collected 2+ years of posts here, all on the topic of being a woman who is childfree. My final task is to make a back up copy for posterity.

Feel free to explore!

This blog is officially closed. I invite you to visit me over at my personal blog: Peggy's Place.

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March 18, 2008

PW in Costa Rica

Purple WomenTM travel. They don't have to wait for spring break or summer vacation. They can go to Costa Rica during the peak season (now ending). If you go "high-end", you are almost assured a kid-free experience. We tend to avoid places that advertise themselves as "family-friendly", not that I mind a little interaction with the younger set now and again.

Thanks to LauraS for putting up the posts while my husband and I were commemorating out 10th anniversary of marriage in this tropical locale. I highly recommend Costa Rica, as many of our friends did for us. Whether your high is zip-lining, sport fishing or birding or just sunning yourself by the pool and sampling the local cuisine, you will appreciate the jungle remoteness with all the amenities. One night a baby boa constrictor landed on a tree branch in full view of our dinner table, close enough that we got pictures!

Costa Rica has one of the most stable economies in all of South America. They have a thriving middle class, and the government subsidizes their tourism industry by offering mandatory standardized training in preparation for this field. English is compulsory at the high school level, so it is really up to individual if they really want to learn. We were vacationing right alongside Costa Ricans. They are wealthy enough to enjoy their own tourist offerings.

When I thought it was all over, (life is just one big adventure, eh?) and we were just killing time at the San Jose Airport, I saw this pin exchange display offered by a bank along with their money exchange service. I traded a Purple Women
TM button for a Costa Rica one. What fun!

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March 17, 2008

Can We Have It All?

This week I caught an episode of TLC’s reality show The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom.

A mother of two pretends she is on a mom’s spa trip when, in fact, she is living her fantasy as a chef in one of L.A.’s top restaurants. While her husband is taking care the of the kids, she is testing her skills in the presence of the top food critics in Los Angeles—reclaiming her dream to be a top chef. At the end of her secret week, she is given the choice between taking the opportunity to be a full-time chef at Chocolat, one of L.A.’s premier dining spots, or to go home and resume her life as a full-time mom.

What does she choose?

Despite her husband’s verbal and whole-hearted support of whatever choice she makes, and with consideration of the financial implications of living solely on a chef’s salary, she tearfully chooses to remain a stay-at-home mom.

The 70’s feminist part of me shakes her head and wonders, have we regressed to Ozzie and Harriet days?

The childless by choice part of me understands.

I, too, chose between a career and children. It was a relatively easy choice for me, because I had difficulty imagining myself as a mom. But what if you had two young ones at home and part of your identity, and being, hinged on being the Mom you always wanted to be, and the other part hinged on accomplishing the goals you set for yourself prior to becoming a mom?

What would you do?

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March 07, 2008

A Paternal Instinct?

During my research for the Childless by Choice Project, I interviewed partnered and married childless and childfree men and I asked them, "Do you think there is such a thing as a paternal instinct?"

The responses were varied, but to paraphrase the majority of the men I interviewed, the response was: "If there is, I haven’t got it."

Beyond the anecdotel comes evidence from a major study conducted in the U.K. reported by The Daily Telegraph in Australia this past December, in an article titled For Dads, Happiness is No Kids.

Following is the full article:

The patter of tiny feet has long been thought of as the key to happiness. But according to a study, having children makes men less satisfied with their life, while women only enjoy motherhood once their offspring are packed off to school.

Between the ages of three and five, children made mothers less satisfied with life, while being the father of a child under five "significantly reduces"' life satisfaction.

Women with children aged five to 15 were happier than those who did not have children. Even children of school age brought no increase or decrease in happiness for men.

The study, carried out by the Institute for Social & Economic Research in Colchester, England, surveyed nearly 4000 couples between 1996 and 2003.

A caveat: I have not seen the original study. However, this rings true to me, based on my interviews.

What do you think?

Flickr photo by fusionstream (cc) /Technorati Tag: