December 29, 2006

Reflecting Back on a Year Gone By

I don't do well making resolutions. Generally the excitement of a new year seems to get the better of me and I make grand plans that then fall flat as reality sets in. But a new year is a good time to reflect and make changes, as well as evaluate future goals and dreams. It's also a great time to think back over the previous year and remember highlights and special times. Was it a good year overall?

Some of my memories (good or bad) of 2006:
-Becoming a contributor here at Purple WomenTM
-My mom falling and breaking her hip and having to have hip replacement surgery in Africa
-Meeting my nephew for the first time
-Playing and bonding with my 4-year-old niece
-Going to my mother's family reunion and seeing cousins I hadn't seen in years
-Moving to a new role at work with new responsibilities
-Celebrating 9 years of marriage
-Having the Super Bowl in Detroit, my home area
-Hiding our first cache as part of geocaching
-Starting a monthly scrapbook crop at our church
-Watching my sister run her first marathon

What are some of the highlights of your 2006? Do you have any specific goals going into 2007?

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December 27, 2006

The Little Girl Who Came to Dinner

Kids say the darndest things. I have a story to tell that involves a little girl who came to dinner with her parents last month. She is cute as a button, a future prima ballerina, and all of three and a half years old. Her parents don't seem to curb her much and I really had to hold my tongue a few times.

We currently live in my mother-in-law's house, the house my husband grew up in. This lady was known to many as grandma and there are toys all over the place to prove it. Some of the toys at this house are genuine antiques, the likes of which have never been seen by the current generation of kids. We were rather hoping that if we introduced our friend's daughter to some of these toys that she would settle down and entertain herself. No such luck. She expected us to give her all our attention, and she got worse as the evening went on.

At dinner she busted my chops for giving her a paper napkin instead of a nice cloth napkin like the adults had. She spilled her water glass all over the table and I was never so grateful for the custom table cover as not a drop of water got through to the beautiful wood underneath. After dinner, my husband and the little girl's father sought refuge by remaining in their seats and talking amongst themselves on their favorite topics of hunting and fishing. I was left to clearing the table and to entertaining our little guest. I didn't really like the separation of sexes. I felt as if I was in a Victorian era time warp and that the men might pull out stogies at any time.

I have to stop myself here and say something positive about this child. Our little guest tried everything on her plate without a fuss. That really impressed me and my husband as our nieces and nephews are the most finicky on the planet.

The child's mother told her that there would be no dessert if she did not finish her plate, which I thought was a good disciplinary move; however, I couldn't help notice that she did not finish her place and the child got dessert anyway. I guess you have to pick your battles. After dessert and coffee, her mother then suggested we put on music so she could dance for us in the living room. I politely acquiesced. Big mistake. She danced for us and at first it was really cute, then she wouldn't allow us to talk during the performance.

The most surprising thing that happened on this social experiment of an evening was a conversation my husband had with the little girl when I was out of the room. He said she was standing next to him in the kitchen, staring at him for the longest time. He could tell there was a big question forming in her little brain. Then she blurted out:

"Why don't you have children?"
This made him smile as he replied, "We do have children. We have lots of nieces and nephews."

Perhaps this was not the most direct and honest answer, but it seemed to satisfy her at the time. It must have seemed strange to her that we were surrounded by toys and not children. As my husband I reflected on the evening the next day, trying to think through how we could have made the evening any better, we realized we may be the only childfree adults this little girl has ever been around.

As hosts, we felt we should have served dinner earlier, as it may have been much past the child's normal dinner hour. Her mother could have had a better plan for this too. I am sure the whole evening had them off her normal routines, which are very important for little ones. A new mother doesn't always know these things nor how to coordinate with a hostess. If my mother-in-law had been present I am sure she would have offered this sage advice. As a childfree adult, I kept my mouth shut.

This whole episode in my life reminds me of Twiga's post, Friendships, which addressed the awkwardness Purple-minded folks sometimes experience when mingling with their childed friends .

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December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays

All the season's best to Purple WomenTM and their childfree and parent friends everywhere!

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December 23, 2006

Blogging Chicks are Purple Too

In an effort to expand our network, social networking online specifically, I've taken a cue from Twiga and added this blogroll of Blogging Chicks. Gotta love their art.

Also recently added MyBlogLog to the sidebar. This is a neat tool to help us get to know our readers.

In other news, I am proud to say two social networking groups that I participate in are in the top 10 finalists for the Weblob Awards 2006 - Best Online Community Category: Book Crossing and BlogHer. Alas, still no nomination for us.

Hope these developments will help other Purple WomenTM - and those considering the childfree path - discover us!

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December 20, 2006

Meet LauraS

The S stands for Scott.
Laura Scott is the person behind the labour of love she calls The Childless by Choice Project: a research, book and documentary project on those who are childless by choice in North America.

Laura spent two years on a research road trip to ten of the United States and two Canadian provinces interviewing, filming, and surveying over 170 voluntarily childless/childfree individuals.

"As North Americans continue to delay marriage and childbearing, the assumption of parenthood is losing its grip." Laura observed. "What happens when the question 'When should we have kids?' turns to 'Should we have kids?' The childfree show us."

"I wanted to explore, beyond my own experience in a childless by choice marriage, this decision-making process, and to determine the most compelling motives to remain childfree."

Outside of The Childless by Choice Project, Laura's passion is travelling.

"I get antsy if I stay in one place too long. We're always planning the next trip. Which is why we don't have a pet, unless you count our papier mache dog, Spike. It would be unfair and irresponsible to have a dog now when I can barely keep my plants alive."
We are proud to have Laura as a Regular Contributor and as a member of the Purple WomenTM community.

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December 18, 2006

We All Have Mothers

One of my Purple WomenTM informants was kind enough to send me an article from San Francisco Weekly called New Mother's Work by Eliza Strickland (12/6/2006).

The post title above is a quote by Joan Blades, co-founder of a new political action group called Moms Rising. Her co-founder is author Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner who recently debuted some new data in her first book, The F-Word: Feminism in Jeapoardy:

"For every dollar that a man earns today, a childless woman earns 90 cents — not perfect equality, but close — while mothers earn 73 cents, on average, and single moms earn 60 cents. These numbers represent disparities in hourly wages, so part-time work schedules and unpaid leaves don't skew the statistics."

We childfree have a true workplace advantage. We still don't have pay equity with the men, but I will say her numbers make it look like we've progressed. How we will fare with the pull of this newly realized political organizing is yet to be seen.

When Blades says "we all have mothers," I am reminded of how hard it must have been for my mother, a single mother in the beginning. I need to read more about their agenda, but initially I am captured by their cause - even though I have no intention of raising kids.

Moms Rising could be good for all women. Backers like Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy would be wise to recognize families of two as they push for new family-friendly legislation and workplace policies. The two should go hand-in-hand.

As Purple WomenTM we are unwitting feminists, whether we like it or not. My question is, are we going to have a voice in the changes that inevitably take place, or will we simply take a backseat to mothers?

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December 13, 2006

Café or the Cafeteria?

Should employers continue to grant extended benefits coverage to parents and decline to transition to “cafeteria” plans that set a single dollar amount for each employee?
This question was recently posed by Ms. Laura Ciaccio, Spokesperson for No Kidding! International, author of the Childfree News blog and, and also a Harvard Law student working on the above question for a course project. Here is the argument I sent her for her site.

We have to appreciate what we have in this country, the good ol’ U.S. of A., and one of those things is a free marketplace. Burgeoning entrepreneurship is a sign of a healthy economy. This well spring is the direct result of a healthy middle class, the size of which is also an indicator of a strong economy and a happy populace. Macroeconomists would agree but it’s hard for most of us to get the bigger picture. We all prosper when our economy prospers, and prosperity is not tied to what hand-outs our employers give us.

I am a Democrat, trying to develop Republican sensibilities. Now that liberals have won back both House and Senate, majority leaders and their followers have a responsibility to listen to the other side. Republicans have morphed into religious fanatics lately but they remain true to their true pro-economy, capitalist core. It is even more important to develop the ability to dialogue and come into the conversation open-minded. If we really feel like socialists at heart, we should move further north.

When I first heard about Ms. Ciaccio’s project and her stance, I cringed because telling a corporation how to take care of its employees feels a bit heavy handed. I look forward to the dialogue she stirs up and applaude her for doing so. Here’s my take and you are free to disagree with it:

I think we, the childfree, need to take responsibility for our own choices. We decided (or accepted) our status, and regardless the reason, we should not expect compensation for phantom children. The Achilles Heel of the argument that Ms. Ciaccio puts forward is that in fact we should have extra disposable income since we don’t have extra mouths to feed. As an employer, it is proper to take care of your employee and his or her family. This argument will not find a sympathetic ear with the great masses of parents (who outnumber us, by the way). The U.S. tax code already allows employers to offer pre-tax spending options for unreimbursed medical and caregiving expenses, be they child or elder. That is available to us all equally.

If we advocate that a company provide equal value in benefits to each employee, where would that money come from? Profits would be the first thing a board or business owner would move to protect. Head count and salary would be the likely target, so would the company picnic and ironically, the company-sponsored cafeteria. The proposal is called a “cafeteria plan” of packaging benefits, in which each employee gets one a voucher for the same amount with which they can pick and choose from a benefits plan.

Put on your business-owner hat for a moment. Look at your total cost per employee. Parents cost more for businesses so heavily weighting their bennies to families with kids, yet, which employee gets promoted? Unfortunately, the odds are that the guy telling jokes at the water cooler, the married man, yes, one who has the right number of kids does. Oh, and the tall people. So many subjective factors come into play, rather than job performance, but I would bet that all business owners look at employee cost when making staffing decisions. They have to or they wouldn’t be in business.

So, why would childfree want to advocate to make themselves more expensive and less attractive in the workplace? Instead we should shed some light on what a bargain we are, always filling in for the ones who have to dash home for a child’s activity. Use it to our advantage. The cafeteria plan would impact women in the workplace most directly. Many talented working women are also mothers and if employers were forced to offer equal benefits for all employees chances are some of theirs will go away. The economic impact to the business would be too great for it to turn out otherwise in reality.

Ms. Ciaccio, if you want to eat at the cafeteria, go ahead. Our co-workers who have kids are probably eating lunch a sack lunch at their desk. I’ll take my compensation in dollars and cents, and eat across the street at the café with my extra disposable income, and only sign up for as much health coverage as I need.

For more on this topic and others visit Childfree Issues.

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December 09, 2006

PW Top 10 Posts

Here are the posts with the most number of comments thus far:

# Author, Post Title (Date of post)

20 Robin, Fence Sitting (8/25/2006)
16 Robin, Childfree with Child Support (11/9/2006)
16 Twiga92, Career or Child? (10/16/2006)
14 Teri, Respect and Little Dose of Humor, (8/1/2006)
14 Teri, Purple Men (4/15/2006)
13 Robin, A Childfree Life (7/7/2006)
12 Teri, Pets As Kids? (10/28/2006)
12 Twiga92, Married and Childfree (10/18/2006)
11 Twiga92, Being Christian and Childfree (5/25/2006)
11 Robin, Furmommy (11/3/2006)
11 Robin, Why I Will Never Be 100% Childfree (7/17/2006)
11 LauraS, Something for the Gratitude Journal (10/6/2006)
11 Twiga92, Friendships (11/18/2006)
11 LauraS, But Can She Walk in Those Jimmy Choos? (4/30/2006)
11 Robin, Peace and Quiet (6/29/2006)

Okay, okay, so there are 14 posts on the list. What was I supposed to do with a seven-way tie for 11 comments?

I am so proud of these posts, they really represent our best. Kudos to the team!

Enjoy visiting them again (or for the first time). None of these conversations are closed, so feel free to weigh in.

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December 08, 2006

Prosperity and the Birth Rate

Lately, much has been written about the "Birth Dearth," the point at which we as a nation or a world fail to replace our dying population with new births. The fear is that we'll be a country of old people without enough young working people to pay into the fiction we call social security. As tempting as it might be for some to point the finger of blame for this dilemma at the childfree, it's not that simple.

In his article 300 Million and Counting, published in a recent edition of Smithsonian Magazine, Joel Garreau rightly points out that the more affluence and education a person attains the fewer children she will likely have, and he credits immigration for the fact that the U.S. has managed to avert the "Birth Dearth:"

"The United States' population is growing at the rate of almost 1 percent per year, thanks in part to immigration…Not only does the United States accept more legal immigrants as permanent residents than the rest of the world combined, but these recent arrivals tend to have more children than established residents…"
That is true, but their children may not. The native born children of immigrants, encouraged by their parents to achieve success in their home country may go to college, delay childbearing, and as a result have fewer kids. Just like their fifth or sixth generation American peers. They may be busy working two jobs just to pay the mortgage, or, as Garreau observed, helping to "create companies such as Intel, eBay and Google."
So if you’re looking for someone or something to blame for declining birth rates and populations, look beyond the childfree. Blame education, opportunity, and prosperity.
The reality is: global birth rates decline as populations find their own versions of the American dream. The children of those who had three or more children are having two, one, or none.

In the short term, it’s unlikely we will see an increase of families with three or more kids and many countries in the developed and developing world will face declining and aging populations in the coming decades.

That's the reality. So let’s stop the blame game and just deal with it.

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December 05, 2006

Popular Media

When hubby and I moved back to California after a two-year stint in Toronto, Canada one of the things we were really looking forward to (other than the obvious this time of year -- brrrrrrrr!) was re-establishing our Netflix subscriptions. We are just that lazy and really like getting DVDs in the mail and no late fees. Best of all, the U.S. Postal service even delivers on Saturday unlike in Canada.

One of my favorite (favourite for you Canadians who spell funny) comedians is Steve Martin. He also writes books and plays (Picasso at the Lapin Agile). He directed and produced his novel Shop Girl which debuted the movie at the Toronto Film Festival last year.

We recently watched one of Steve's earlier films (you can tell because he has so much hair): Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982). It's a really neat film noir tribute with glimpses of silver screen legends spliced into it, such as Joan Crawford, Burt Lancaster, Lana Turner and Humphrey Bogart. Steve plays gum-shoe private eye Rigby Reardon and the leading lady is Rachel Ward as Juliet Forrest, the Purple Woman in distress.

I was surprised to find a poignant piece of dialogue between them.

JULIET: You're a very smart man.

RIGBY: So was Abraham Lincoln and look what happened to him. Smart can getcha killed.


Would like to what? Kiss me? Yeah, that would be nice. It would give me chance to tell her I was starting to feel something for her too. Something warm and squishy. But how could I explain that a man in my business can't take on a wife and have a bunch of kids...

We wouldn't have to have kids.

What?! [AWKWARD PAUSE, AS HE EYES HER SUSPISCIOUSLY.] Look this is getting us no where...[HE MOVES QUICKLY TO SHOW HER THE DOOR.] You better go now. Marlowe is coming over here to talk.

If you need me just call...


Have you seen any Purple WomenTM in the movies lately? Please tell us where!

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December 03, 2006

Scrapbooking Together

If you're looking for an activity to do together as you gather with relatives for the holidays, scrapbooking is one alternative that can be fun and engaging. All you need to start is photos, glue stick, some construction paper or cardstock, scissors, a pen and some stickers. It can be as simple or creative as you want to make it.

Sitting around a table and pasting pictures onto some cardstock can be a way to reminisce about holidays past and fond memories. Using stickers to accent the page helps to spice up what would otherwise be a normal photo album.

Journaling about the photos brings the scrapbook full circle for others to enjoy looking at and reading about the events and people depicted in the photos. You can punch holes in the edges and string ribbon through them to create a small photo journal to give as gifts.

This can also be a way to entertain those nieces and nephews who are old enough to participate. Most children will enjoy pasting pictures onto construction paper and putting stickers on to decorate. They can write their own thoughts about the pictures and have a great page to show others. This gives us points into the "Cool Aunt/Uncle" category. Make sure there are duplicates of any photos used in case they are damaged beyond repair.

For the particularly ambitious, home-made Christmas or Holiday cards can be done on cardstock in a similar fashion. This allows for some creativity in the card with personalized journaling and photos. Got a great picture of yourself doing one of your favorite activities? Why not paste it on a card to send out to relatives, showing the hobbies and fun you are having?

Scrapbooking is not for everyone, but can be a simple craft to do with friends or family to highlight those great pictures from the past year for future memories. You can even journal and scrapbook those New Year's resolutions!

Photo Originally uploaded to Flickr on November 4, 2006 by Olivier B

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Meet Twiga

Twiga joined the Purple WomenTM team blog as a Regular Contributor in March 2005.

Twiga’s Journey to Childfreedom:

Twiga and her husband made the decision not to have children when they were engaged. Growing up, she had never really had a desire to have children, something that was talked about when she was a teenager. Her mom had even mentioned that she had never been very "motherly". As she began to fall in love with boys throughout high school and college, she realized that she would probably have children for the sake of the man she loved and married. So throughout these years she assumed that she would have children.

When she and her husband were engaged, the discussion about children came up. Imagine her surprise and delight when he said he didn't really care if he had children or not! They decided to wait before taking any drastic measures such as sterilization, but both were sure this was the right choice for them. At that time, Twiga had never heard the term "childfree" and didn't realize how making the choice to not have children would impact her life.

Many of those who choose not to have children get asked the question why. There is not always a simple answer. For Twiga, the decision had mostly to do with lack of desire. She likes children, but doesn't want any of her own. She enjoys her niece and nephew, but doesn't have to take responsibility for them. She has seen that her introvert nature would not blend well with having children, as well as her low energy levels and independent streak. She also has OCD, which could make pregnancy complicated due to the medications she is on. Financially, she and her husband can not afford children either.

Twiga and her husband have now been married for 9 years. They are as sure of their childfree decision now as they
were 9 years ago, perhaps even more so.

Pet Peeve:

The "you'll change your mind" comment.

Twiga’s Hobbies:

Reading, scrapbooking, blogging, and geocaching. Twiga and her husband are also very involved with their local church and their two cats Storm and Mocha (pictured).

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December 02, 2006

Childfree in Social Settings

Purple WomenTM may need a little fortification when attending their company picnic/bbq/holiday party. Regardless of the season it's good to go armed with a dose of humour in these less-than anonymous social settings.

Those still pretending to be a future mom (you know who you are, when strangers say "no kids yet?" you reply "maybe some day")...
...may want to roll these potential retorts over in their mind as a they touch up their makeup and dash out the door.

Here are some good one-liners that will give people a clue as to who you really are (witty and charming, and Purple of course, right?):

Q: Any children?

A #1: Oops, we forgot to do that!

A #2: We're supposed to have kids?! (With a mock horrified look on your face.)

A #3: No, we have cats. We can leave them alone on the weekends...(wink).

A #4: No, let's talk about sex instead...(in your best Kim Cattral voice if it's someone you're attracted to!)

A #5: Never had the urge, I just enjoy my fill-in-the-blank too much to give it up.

A #6: You know, I was really hoping you'd ask me that, but let's talk about
fill-in-the-blank instead...!

A #7: I think my mother's calling me...(and just walk quickly in the other direction).

A #8: Did my mother put you up to this?

A #9: Hell no! I create enough garbage for landfills on my own. (Don't actually recommend this one, because a horrified parent might think you are talking about the child itself, not the amount of trash they generate!)

A #10: Why would I want to do a thing like that? Perfecting my golf game (or
fill-in-the-blank) is way too important to me.

Which one of the above fits your Purple personality?

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November 29, 2006

Purple Gifts

This holiday season, celebrate your Purpleness (childfree status) by taking charge of how you do the holiday.

Last year, my beloved and I went to the mall on Christmas Eve and strolled slowly hand-in-hand through the frenzied shopping crowd to the jewelery store where we picked out our gifts to each other and wore them out of the store. We had a mid-mall sushi snack and a cocktail at the Rain Forest Cafe (it's not just for kids) and caught the latest Harry Potter movie at matinee prices. As the mall storekeepers were closing their doors, we rode the subway home and prepared a quiet, candle-lit dinner for two.

Except for the kids in our life, nine precious nieces and nephews, my husband and I pretty much have our gift buying wrapped up this year. Instead of buying gifts for each other this year, we are taking a day trip to go skiing with another couple. My plan is to avoid malls like the plague.

I find adults so much easier to buy for. If anyone has ideas for kids between the ages of 7-10 I'd appreciate it. Also, have a few teenagers to consider.

If you are in need of some Purple holiday ideas, here ya go:

Did you know that Purple WomenTM contributors review books on this site? Yep and here is a compilation post of the more than a dozen books in the childfree genre that we reviewed in our first year of publication. May give you some good ideas for yourself or a suspected Purple friend. I've set up a bookstore
with my top picks in the sidebar.

Also, heard from Grandma Purple this week. She has a store with everything purple in it and has given us the gift of a reciprocal link to her site. I think every purple guy and gal should have purple duct tape in their stocking, don't you? No kick-back on this one, just some great purple products by a friend of Purple WomenTM. Could save you a trip to the mall.

Oh, and if you're not afraid of "nipples of mass destruction" and think the body beautiful, check out the calendar my dear friend Sue has been publishing for five years to promote breast health awareness among women (how to care for yourself before a critical diagnosis): Breast of Canada. Sue is Purple too and I met her at the BlogHer Conference '06. She will be featured in the Portraits of Purple Women section of the book I am writing. Apparently
, her calendars are flying out the door, so pony up soon!

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November 28, 2006

Purple Women in the News

In today's Washington Post. One of my Purple WomenTM informants read this with her morning coffee:

“I chose not to seek medical help or look for a sperm donor. Nor have I made myself a mother through adoption. Instead, I've come to see myself as part of a growing phenomenon -- one to which people often don't know how to respond.”
Childless: Some by Chance, Some by Choice
I Lost a Baby -- and Found A Community of Women Who Won't Be Mothers
By Nancy Rome
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, November 28, 2006; Page HE01

Hard links to subscription-based media sites often expire or require a fee, so I have also provided all the details if you want to find an issue in your local do go there don't you?

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November 27, 2006

Media Watch

The Environmental Magazine November/December 2006 issue poses an interesting question on its cover: Is There Really a Birth Dearth?

The hard copy version is worth the purchase price as Editor Jim Motavalli gives an incredibly balanced, well-researched story about the politics of population titled Shaking the Baby Tree. If you want a good background prep for topics surrounding world population issues for more skillful maneuvering through those holiday social gatherings grab an issue. It will definitely give you some ammo for folks who think reproducing is a patriotic/civic/religious duty. The online version of the story is only a summary article (500 words).

The December 2006 issue of Bust mazagine, an edgy feminist publication on pop culture out of NY, NY, features a story by Judy McGuire who interviewed me for her story titled Newborn Free (page 66). The Barnes & Noble booksellers in my current habitat does not carry this periodical. I guess it's a little too edgy and fem for this pronatal suburb. I had better luck at Borders in the next town, but they had sent back all the December issues to make room for January 2007 before I could get my hands on a copy.

If you can get one, please let us know how it reads by leaving a comment here! Bust does not publish stories to their website, but you can order back issues as I have done.

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November 26, 2006

Life, Death and Regret

They say life review comes in your 40s. How will Purple WomenTM measure up and to whose standards when that time comes? There are also other triggers, such as death for example.

If your husband dies, will you wish you had his child? When the matriarch of your family leaves you and continues on to whatever is next, will you reconsider your family status? A recent commenter left a message calling us, the childfree, "fools" for not realizing that if our own mothers had decided not to have us, we would not be here to have this conversation. I deleted the comment as it was base name-calling and judgmental and did not add anything to the intelligent conversation that had preceded it.

I think it really comes down to what you believe. Are your beliefs as good as someone else's? Is there any common ground at all? If you are not here, is your soul somewhere else? This conversation, if pursued to its logical course, takes an interesting turn rather quickly.

To me it really boils down to a very simple question: Do you do harm or do you help? Some would go further to ask themselves, "What footprint do I leave on this world?" or "Do I make a difference?"

We said goodbye to a family matriarch last week. She definitely made a difference, and so shall I. Perhaps I already have.

[Photo: Originaly uploaded to Flickr on October 5, 2006 by andrebernardo]

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November 21, 2006

The Tribal Holiday

It’s hard to justify all the turkey and the fixings for a Thanksgiving feast when there’s just the two of you. I like to cook and share old family recipes. However, my husband’s family is in the UK and my family is in Canada and many of our friends with kids like to host their own family feasts, so we’ve made alternate plans over the years.

Usually, there is a group of neighbors and friends who have family living far away. Some are childfree, divorced, widowed, or otherwise available to share a Thanksgiving meal with a non-relative. These are the people we celebrate with.

The last couple of years, my friend Debra and her family have hosted. They have a table that seats sixteen. Guests have included assorted neighbors, the kid’s college friends and, last year, two injured professional hockey players who couldn’t travel with their team. It’s always a different crowd and everyone brings a dish, so there is plenty of food.

This year, half of our Thanksgiving tribe will participate in a 5K Drumstick Dash for the local Rescue Mission. This way we can justify the extra slice of pumpkin pie later that day and support a worthy charity.

Some people wonder what the Childfree do during the holidays. My response: we cook, we overeat, we share tables with people we don’t see often, we laugh, we play (or watch) games, we nap when we can and dream of leftovers.

Sound familiar?

[Photo: Originally uploaded to Flickr on November 26, 2006 by prodigaldog]

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November 18, 2006


This subject is a popular one among the childfree - how to maintain friendships when children start arriving and how to find other childfree folk to hang out with.

This has been an ongoing issue for me, especially over the last few years as I've entered my 30's and most people my age have young children. It's hard to maintain friendships once kids arrive as suddenly the attention is all on the child. Conversations become interrupted often with "don't touch that", "stop hitting your sister", or "what do you need honey". Email often allows the friendships to continue somewhat, but face-to-face time is difficult.

No Kidding! is an organization specifically for the childfree and is one way to make friends with others that don't have children. Another way to meet people is through local community clubs with common interests - such as book clubs or crafting clubs.

I have found it easier to keep my friendships with parents of young children on a more surface level in order not to be frustrated with the lack of quality time or ability to go out often.
Eventually the children will be old enough that we can have a closer friendship. I'm finding that my closer friendships at this time of my life are with people whose children are at least school-age or older. They are more able to do things and be available than those with babies or toddlers.

Photo: Originally uploaded to Flickr on November 25, 2006 by joguldi

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November 14, 2006

The Invisible Childfree

Earlier, I posted about how the childfree by choice are missed on the U.S. Census. I invite you to start noticing the categories in your local newspaper, either online or the messy newsprint version. If you had a regular column about your Unscripted (also the name of the newest childfree ezine) childfree life, what category or section of the publication would your article appear in?

I’ve had the same problem trying to get women-centric websites to include our flavor of the month. We just don’t seem to fit. Woman = mother, right? Wrong.

I tried to fit Purple Women & Friends, a team blog by, for, and about women who are childfree, into these limited categories recently:

Arts & Entertainment
Food and Wine
Health & Fitness
News and Opinion
Shopping and Style

The vendor’s name is withheld because they are providing a free service and all this blogosphere stuff is so new, they need some time to work out the inefficiencies. I did send them this email:

“Thanks in advance for your assistance with assigning categories for our team blog. I am sure this will help us with our…stats.

Selecting the appropriate categories has proven more difficult than I expected. We are a childfree blog, so I was hoping for something like Lifestyle or Family. In my mind Parenting would fall under this more inclusive heading. In lieu, I select the following categories that you offered:

Health & Fitness (we cover women's health issues related to contraception and reproduction)
News and Opinion (we track childfree portrayals in popular media and in the news, and of course offer our opinion)
Travel (childfree travel tips will be a new feature going forward, against the flow, off-peak tips, etc.)

If I could add a category or two these would help editors find our blog which is very women-centric and topic-focused. If I understand correctly, they are rather limited for now and also restricted to three categories, yes?

Women and Women's Issues
Book Reviews
Family & Lifestyle

Fitting in is really at the core of our experience as childfree in a world where everyone assumes you are a parent. Thanks again for your help, and you make me feel that I did the right thing in alerting you.
Teri Tith”

We’re not really Purple, we look just like everyone else, but for crying out loud – we are not invisible!

[Photo: Originally uploaded to Flickr on
November 2, 2006by Dan Kamminga ]

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November 09, 2006

Women Bloggers: A Survey

S U R v E Y
Hattie over at MotherPie is doing graduate study on New Media. She needs our help with original research she is conducting on U.S. women blogs and bloggers, and also the sub-set of mom blogs.

Because she separates women with children from women without children, she will inadvertently have some interesting statistics for childfree women bloggers too. (Caveat: we don't know if any of these gals intend to have kids or if they have even given it any thought!)

She invites
Purple WomenTM to take her survey. It took me less than 10 minutes.

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Childfree With Child Support

I believe a lot of my feelings about being childfree came to surface when I met my boyfriend and along with it came all issues relating to his daughter. Here I was, not wanting children, but my whole life was constantly being uprooted because of his.

Can you imagine not actually having a child in your life but being financially obligated to one? Can you imagine having no say on the upbringing of a child but having to pay partially for the outcomes? Can you imagine having to put important things in your life on hold because the child requires an uninsured medical expenses?

Of course not, because any childfree woman in her right mind would never get involved with a guy who has kids from a previous relationship. If you think it's bad being a mother, being a stepmother comes with a whole new level of stress (so I've been told by stepmothers I know).

I can't tell you how often stepmothers have told me I should count my blessings that I don't have to be an active stepmother, because it rarely seems worth the effort. On the other hand I have been told that since I don't want to be a mother it is destructive to be in a position where I could be a stepmother.

But of course, while I don't believe I ever want children of my own it has always been important to me to have a loving and supportive relationship with a man. I even now believe marriage can be a good thing, if it's the right people. My relationship comes with baggage. What relationship doesn't? It's a struggle to find a way to deal with it but I put in the effort because so far it's been worth it.

I suppose we all have to make sacrifices in life, it's just that sometimes I wish I felt like my sacrifices helped more or were even appreciated.

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November 08, 2006

Childfree Travel Tip #1

Really good time to take a state side weekender is over the Halloween holiday, even better when it actually falls on a weekend. Fall is such a pretty time of year to travel, and depending on where you go, the decorations are all coming out.

Why? Most folks feel like they have to be home to pass out candy or traffic their kids around for the big costumed night. We don't, so the highways and byways are all ours. Next year, plan to take advantage.

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November 07, 2006

Parent Hurdles

“The Other Abortion Battle; Abortion may be legal in California – but that doesn’t mean you can actually get one.”

This was the lead story in The Guardian, (October, Vol. 41, NO. 2, page 22) one of San Francisco’s free outspoken, albeit liberal, weekly rags.

Never having had to walk in these shoes, I was surprised to learn how many hurdles there are for girls (let’s call them what they are and not lump them in with adults because laws are in place and have been proposed to treat them differently) and women to obtain a legal abortion. The reporter rightly asks, “What good is the right if you cannot exercise it?” Rick Jacobs
(journalist/pundit blogger at The Huffington Post) nailed it when he wrote in a pre-election post, we have a “a roll back on choice” happening in the United States.

Insurance Hurdles
Even the insurance industry is against them if they do not recognize their pregnancy and obtain the proper support and resources to terminate it in the first trimester. They simply won’t cover a second trimester abortion. Ever woman skips a period every now and then. Often women don’t know they are pregnant until it is too late. (I imagine young women are even more clueless about their own bodies than adults.)

This is both a moral issue and a legal one. Does an insurance company have a right to refuse coverage on moral grounds? Legally, I think the U.S. health insurance industry is standing on one leg.

Doctor Hurdles
Do doctors refuse to terminate a pregnancy on moral grounds? Yes. It’s their practice; I guess they should be able to run their business how they want. A friend of mine, also 40 something recently found out there was a problem with her fetus and opted to abort. She was horrified at how she was treated. In the first place, her doctor tried to keep her from performing the amnio which revealed the defect. This same doctor then refused to help her once she made her decision. The hospital “does not do those procedures” she was told and was referred to a clinic where she was put in a gown in a room with 20 other women and made to wait 2 hours. The young woman next to her was there for the same reason and was in tears at this callous treatment.

Legal Hurdles
One way of speaking up is to vote. Today, Californians will vote on Proposition 85 (that’s what we do in California, if you get enough signatures you can propose new state law) is on the November ballot. I would require girls to notify their parents before they terminate a pregnancy. Just another hurdle which in effect takes away the right, or the right thing to do? The young women it affects are not even old enough to vote on this.

We should all be concerned. For those outside the U.S. looking in, mild interest at least. I don’t think that Americans lead the world in women’s rights or advances. In fact, I think that we can be embarrassingly behind the times, morally and socially. (Can you tell I just got back from a 20-month work assignment in a socialist country?)

The story left me wondering, “How well are we preparing our young women to make these grown up decisions?” You may see a future post on this.

For now, I’ll leave you with this post by Gloria Feldt, in which she muses over the language associated with reproductive control, her first in a series about the history of American birth control published in the International Leadership Forum.

[Blog Administrator's note: Some of you will no doubt react strongly to this topic. That's normal. It's a risky post for sure, and it appears here on Purple Women & Friends because contraception, reproductive choice and its ugly step-child, yes abortion, are integral to the conversation. I feel it's important not to shy away from the controversy and to encourage a civil discourse - even critical.]

[PHOTO: Uploaded to Flickr on November 4, 2006 by Steve Rhodes.]

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November 06, 2006


by Guest Contributor: AlphaGirl / WalkerGirl
AlphaGirl’s Blog:
Childfree: Uncut

I am holding a mental image of a photograph. Maria and I are back-to-back, leaning against one another, but facing front and smiling at the camera. It is a metaphor for our relationship: We are distinct opposites, but in synch at the same time.

I’m unapologetically single, childfree, and outspoken. Infants and toddlers are cute in pictures; but irritating in person. I consider myself a realist, a pragmatist. Some might argue I’m a bit of a misanthrope. In the words of a friend’s 13 year- old “Ok, fine, whatev’.” I’m long on compassion when it’s well-deserved, but short on patience when I feel I’m being played.

Maria is a married, loving mom to three grown kids and will most likely embrace any future grand-parenting the way she does anything else in life: With an overflowing heart and open arms.
Her faith in humanity is unshakable. She loves people of all ages, from the red-faced screaming infant in the supermarket to the hung-over frat kid who serves up her coffee. Her patience and compassion are endless, and to that end, she is now a marriage and family therapist. She is also my rock, my surrogate mom (who knew?), voice of reason, advisor and all-around cheerleader. She is the last person I would want to offend or hurt. I value the relationship deeply, and am therefore more protective of it.

We differ on the parenting lifestyle. While she insists she’s fine with the whole childfree thing, I feel the need to hold back, out of profound respect for her life and her choices. I’m very prone to foot-in-mouth disease, to be honest. She has a fleeting familiarity with my brand of For-God’s-sake-stop-breeding-already brand of childfreedom. When she was a young No-Cal (hailing from Northern California) Mom, she practiced a lot of the stuff that I later would dismiss as “Eww. Enough of the Hip Mama/Earth Mother stuff..Gawd!” in one of my unchecked moments. Immediately, I regret my words. I don’t want to hurt her. She took it in stride, but I still felt like a jerk.

Like a protective parent, I want to cradle and shelter this precious relationship; to stop it from darting into the oncoming traffic of sharp words, hurt feelings, and stony silences that can arise from such stark ideological differences. She is curious; she wants to know more about my recently-published letter to the editor that ran in a national magazine. I read it to her, and quickly dismissed it with “I honestly didn’t think they’d run it…seriously.” She wants to know more about the advocacy work I’ve done in the past. She adds that no, really, childfree is OK with her. Honest. Shoot, her son has declared his own childfreedom long ago.

It’s easy to fall back on the old adage that a true relative, friend, etc. will be there and will understand any differences. A truly strong relationship can withstand such strong differences. Live and let live and all of that. She doesn’t inflict parenting on me, and of course, I don’t inflict childfreedom on her. Still, it’s hard not to be wary; I’ve spent time in the past sifting through the wreckage of previous connections gone awry. Could this relationship survive this very profound difference in lifestyle and choice? It barely survived a raise-the-roof-caliber disagreement a few months ago. Losing her would have been like losing a parent. Fortunately, we rebounded and found our way back, but still…..

The sounds of oncoming traffic are louder, more harsh. Fearful, I step forward to embrace and protect.

[Photo: Uploaded to Flickr on March 23, 2006, by code poet]

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About Alphagirl

AlphaGirl is a former Reqular Contributor to Purple Women & Friends (PW). The post titled Maria is her second Guest Contributor piece. After many years in the corporate sector, she is now among the insanely happy folk who work from home. When not shaking down medical insurance companies for re-imbursements, you can find AlphaGirl on the local trails, training for the L.A. Marathon. Her childfree activities include many hours of advocacy, and has been a keynote speaker at several childfree-related activities over the years. After a period of time away from the fray, AlphaGirl has jumped back in, and pleas, cajoles, and rants in a variety of online childfree communities. Her latest post is a departure from her usual rowdiness, but it also shows that even a Ranty McRanty like herself has a soft spot. She shares this about her two furbabies:

"These are my sweet boys, and yep, they’re my “kids”. They are both loving, well-adjusted lap cats. I have had them each since they were four months old; both of them got off to a precarious start (both had been abandoned) but began to blossom into the little guys they are today. They have taught me so much about unconditional love, and are such a sweet presence in my home. Ever since childhood, I have wanted a large menagerie of animals, but two is a more manageable group! I love these boys, and I’m honored to be their guardian and caregiver. We have been through a lot together over the years, and they are my little treasures."

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November 03, 2006


Some might see my love and attention towards my 2 cats as being a replacement for motherhood but to me that is a very black and white way to look at it. For one thing I think while the feelings for pets may be very similar to the feelings towards children obviously pets and humans have a lot of differences.

I've alwa
ys loved cats a lot but that's not to say I love all cats. When I went to pick up my cat Aurora from a friend who's cat had a litter I wasn't thinking of it as a need to nurture or raise a little being. To me I just like to have cats around, I like their personalities and I find they make everyday life a little better.

If having my cats meant I had to bring them to school everyday and help them with their homework every night I am sure it wouldn't be for me. I love how independent cats are and how little they require from you. I like how I can bond with them and help take care of them without it taking over my entire life.

Maybe I think of them as my children because to them I am the closest thing to a mother than they will ever know. Not much in this world fills me with such happiness as realizin
g how much my little furkids love me and need me.

We've been having a lot of emotional problems with our girl cat Aurora as she's been attacking the boy cat Pilot constantly. This all started when we moved to the new house and started letting them outside. Then the other day I was sitting on the couch when Aurora came to sit
next to me. Aurora actually sat on my lap and looked up to me with her big beautiful eyes. I wanted to cry because she'd only done this maybe two other times in her life.

I look at my little furkids and love how I've watched them grow up and take on very strong personalities. I think one of the best parts of it is I can ignore them for hours on e
nd doing my own thing and nobody will report me for being a bad mother.

Maybe also calling my cats my furkids is a way of letting the public know that I love my cats as others love their children. That these cats will most likely be the closest thing to children I ever have and quite honestly that kind of love is immeasurable.

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November 02, 2006

The Fixed Kitty

Omigosh, in an attempt to find Purple WomenTM in my new surroundings, I searched the string of terms "SF Bay Area + No Kidding + childfree" and discovered this really smart, articulate, childfree podcaster who goes by (do you love it?) a pod handle: The Fixed Kitty. Found zip in terms of local chapter activity, except for a string of conversation on a forum wondering what happend to the SF Bay chapter and why is was not more active.

No Kidding! is the
international social club for married and single people who are childfree, regardless of the reason. I was very involved in the local chapter in Toronto, Canada. They put on the Child-free Festival (I know, they should lose the hyphen...), and last year it was in Toronto. The rumour is that the next one will be in Las Vegas (again) next summer.

The Fixed Kitty was a great find, however, and in episode 27 she touches on how Halloween has gone wrong, (who knew there is an adult space vs. child space segregation happening?), and great Brit wit movie/literature find, and takes a knock at subsidized child-rearing in France all in one podcast. Her blog is called An Adult Space Child Free Podcast (yes, she needs to collapse the words child and free so others can find her, but enough from my pulpit).

Apparently, the French TV Channel 5 recently aired a movie called "Le Choix de Mocha" (translation: The Choice of Mocha). Another interesting portrayal of childfree (we're evil) from a socialist country that subsidizes child-rearing. Please tune in, and if you know someone in France, ask them if they have seen this movie. We need some feedback on this one!

I insisted Tom listen to it when we had our coffee this morning. Miss Kitty's original thoughts and melodic, metered voice were not a bad way to start the day.

[Photo: Jasmine is crazy-hilarious, Originally uploaded by Chuckumentary.

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The Parenthood Lobby at Work

A guy with the screen name BigBoy went on the Yahoo! Answers site a couple of months ago and made the following post:

"Is it normal to be scared before trying for a baby? I love my wife to bits and really want to have kids but am really concerned about starting a family. I have no idea about what parenting is about and am worried my life will be boring after we have kids. Having seen some of my friends lives turned upside down after them giving birth I'm not 100% sure its right for me! Can I have some experienced and constructive comments wife wants to start trying in the new year and although I have talked about my worries with her many many times she seems very confident everything will be great!"
Thirty four people responded. The majority of the respondents were parents. They posted a version of "don’t worry, fear’s normal. Parenting can be tough but it will be fine, you’ll love it." Only one response suggested that he not start a family unless both of them were sure they wanted to.

No one addressed BigBoy’s concern that parenthood might not be right for him. Perhaps they did not because his wife is obviously interested in having a child. Yet, this lobbying behavior disturbs me. I recall the many instances when parents poo-pooed my assertion that I did not have a maternal instinct, saying "it’s different when their yours." Also, it appeared that he didn’t have much say in the decision, that his wife was dismissing his concerns too, which saddens me.

In the course of my research on The Childless by Choice Project, I have interviewed many childfree couples who started out thinking they would be parents until they sat down and really thought about it, and one or both asked, "Should we, really?"

Personally, I don’t advocate that people remain childfree. It was the right choice for me but I don’t assume it will be the right choice for Bigboy. However, if I would have had the opportunity to respond to this man’s appeal, I would have suggested that he take the time to have an honest dialogue with his wife.
A good place to start is to ask, "Why do we want to have kids? Examine the motives. Ask, "Who is influencing the decision?" Address all the fears and articulate all the hopes around parenthood. Just talk.

Parenthood is too big an undertaking to go into reluctantly, or without a plan on how you might manage the changes to the relationship that where identified in the parent’s responses to Bigboy’s question. Maybe if there was a plan or an articulation of what they might expect as parents, the fear would disappear. Or maybe not.

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November 01, 2006

My Silent Purple World

I was noticing how silent my childfree world is today. We have cats not dogs, and no children. Cats don’t bark and carry on, or have to watch TV constantly for their entertainment. Thankfully, neither does my husband. We rise early enough to eat breakfast together, sipping our coffee silently. Tom heads off to work and I am left to my own devices and a never ending To Do list.

We just moved back to the town where we were married, and we've rejoined the local tennis club with no intentions on using all those beautiful courts, but our shadows do darken the fitness room on a regular basis. Even that is a rather quiet experience, except when someone lifts too much and they clank the
weights down noisily. I thought the club would feel a bit friendlier, but no one knows us, so the only people who greet us are the ones who work there.

About half the adults at the club are wearing headphones, so they can tune-in to the TVs mounted to the walls and thusly tune anyone else out. Hardly anyone speaks to one another. Strangely, no
overhead music plays. I am trying to get up my nerve to go to the ladies luncheon later this month. Even the chatter of women talking about their kids would be welcome.

On Wednesdays, the neighbor's gardener tortures me with the leaf blower, and other than the traffic on the road out front during peak commute times, it’s pretty silent on the outskirts of a town called Livermore. This is life in the middle of great suburban sprawl, just 45 minutes from lively and vibrant San Francisco. I find myself socially isolated, new again in a town that is vaguely familiar, and the silence is deafening.

Something is definitely missing. If I stay here too long, I am afraid I’ll begin to think it’s a child because that’s what we are surrounded by. Can I really connect with Purple WomenTM here? Or, is the deck stacked against me in suburbia? Now that the dust is settling from our move, I find that I need a social life, a job and a distraction or two. Perhaps I'll buy a drum set and take up percussion.

[Photo: Livermore, Calif.]

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October 28, 2006

Pets as Kids?

When someone suggests that my cats are my children, it raises the hair on the back of my neck. I don’t like child-substitute thinking. There is a huge difference between pets and children and it's a stereotype that often gets placed on childfree people. It is a sign of a pro-natal society and thinking, thinking that assumes something is missing.

"Oh you have pets, they’re your children,” said the realtor in a condescending tone.

“No, my cats are my pets.”
Imagine how the comment above would cause emotional pain for someone who was really trying to start a family.

A parent/grandmother friend of mine wisely points out that children grow up, go to college and sometimes move out. Pets just stay and stay and love you unconditionally until they die. I am not looking forward to this last part. I have an older cat and his kidneys are starting to fail. It is sad to see him declining.

This same friend recently forwarded a funny letter written by a pet owner called “Dear Dogs and Cats.” Normally, I groan when something like this lands in my email In box, but this one was quite entertaining. I particularly enjoyed this quote:
If you don't want hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That's why they call it "fur"niture.)
I try to warn people that I have cats before they come over. (Some people should warn about their children – ha, ha). Some of our friends actually bear their suffering allergies just to accept our dinner invitations. When friends come to dinner with their children, the cats hide under the bed. Only my cats are child-haters, not their owner - really.

My point, and I do have one, is that adults with children enjoy pets as much as infertile couples and childfree Purple people do.

[Photo: Foot Job by Miss Lucy, and yes, it felt great.]

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