April 30, 2006

But Can She Walk in Those Jimmy Choos?

The website for Expecting Models, a modeling agency for expectant and nursing models, featured an article titled Hollywood Moms are Hot by Carrie Dietz which appeared in the March 13/06 edition of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Racquet.

Is this news? No. Anyone that pauses long enough at the magazine racks in the grocery line knows that babies have replaced pocket dogs as the new Hollywood accessory. What is news to me is that this trend is sufficiently pervasive to warrant a modeling agency exclusively devoted to expectant and nursing moms.

The agency's website touts an impressive client list, including The Gap, Old Navy, Target, Bloomingdales, Motherhood Maternity and New Parent, and a creative services staff that features Baby Wranglers. Yes, Baby Wranglers. I envision a nightmare scenario whereby I am in the manpower office, having spent my last unemployment check, and the only job available to me is "Baby Wrangler." Aaaaaaaaaahh.

Back to the subject. Public fascination with celebrity moms has sparked a new reality show. The President of the Expecting Models agency, Liza Elliott-Ramirez, is featured in Discovery Health's program Runway Moms which documents the journey of expectant models from runway to delivery room.

So what's wrong with that? Nothing. Unless you consider the impact of this trend on the less glamorous moms as Carrie Dietz did in her article:

So what’s this baby phase saying to the middle class mothers of America? The ability for celebrities to have a baby, manage their career, and lose their extra weight in a mere month may begin to place unwanted pressure on “normal” mothers who are not fortunate enough to have an army of nanny’s by their side.

As the press publishes pictures of Denise Richards and her baby girl Sam Sheen playing in the park or Reese Witherspoon while taking daughter Ava on a shopping trip to Barney’s, they fail to show how optional those excursions can be. This present time mommy myth presents unrealistic demands upon the modern working mother.

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New Contributor Welcome

wELCOneletter OME

NomadShan joins us from the Mid-West (of the United States). She is already an avid blogger and this will be her first team blog collaboration.

Please view her complete profile by clicking on her name in the PW Contributors list. And, stay tuned to see what she does with her "every day philanthropy" blog now featured in our sidebar Click 4 Good.

And a belated welcome to AlphaGirl, a first-time Blogger posting from beautiful Southern California, as you may have already diciphered. She has been active in the childfree movement since the beginning (when the mainstream media started paying attention).

Welcome to the Nomad and AlphaGirl!

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Parking for Parents

Teri and Tom's Blog featured a similar "mommy" parking sign up here in Toronto, Canada back in August 2005. Being a Californian expat, I mistakenly thought it was a cultural difference. I had never noticed these signs back home and Canadians do have a reputation for being very polite (think: Dudley Do Good the Royal Canadian Mounted Police character from the cartoon series Bullwinkle).

Personally, I think pregnant women look a little handicapped and perhaps should enjoy a break when it comes to parking. And have you seen how much stuff people with small kids have to haul around? Geez!

On that note, I will agree with AlphaGirl that the letter is the way to go if you feel otherwise. One letter is worth 100 other people who feel the same way.

Or, you could just buy one of those window signs "Baby on Board". . .

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April 28, 2006

Having Trouble Finding Parking Lately.....?

It might be due to those annoying and unnecessary "New Mother" or "Stork" parking spots at some retailers. A posh supermarket chain in Southern California (Gelson's) is adding front-of-the store parking spots to accomodate new /"expectant" mothers, and insisting on full carry-out service for them. Never mind that our disabled population wouldn't mind a few more parking spots so they don't have to circle the lot until a disabled-access parking spot opens up.

Feeling annoyed yet? Put pen to paper and let Gelson's know how you feel. Here is their snail mail address.....They don't have an email address.

Gelson's Market Corporate Office
Attn: Customer Relations

16400 Ventura Blvd.
Encino, CA 91436

If so moved, make your voice heard.

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Dating Childfree Online

Came across a childfree dating site that claims to be the first of type. It's called www.dinklink.com

Reasons for being childfree

There are many reasons that the childfree choose not to have children. The reasons are as varied as the people. Here are my reasons.

1. Lack of desire - I just didn't want to have children.
2. Money (or lack of it) - we don't have the money that it takes to raise a child.
3. Time - I'm selfish with my time. I like a lot of free time. I'm an introvert, so I prefer to have my alone time to unwind.
4. Concern over the state of the world - as I look at all the pressures that kids face nowadays (drugs, sex, drinking, smoking at such young ages), I don't know how I would raise a child. I have a hard time coping sometimes with the pressures of life. I'm not sure how I would prepare a child for it.
5. My marriage - I like that we have time for each other and can do things together.
6. Freedom - we can go where and when we like without worrying about sitters and such.

What reasons do you have for your choice?

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April 27, 2006

Childfree Housing Issues

Found an interesting article on Bella Online about Childfree Housing.

This is an idea I have heard before in childfree circles. I thought of two aunts of mine who live in senior housing where it appears that the residents aren't being screened. I remember sitting in my oldest aunt's apartment during one hot summer day, and watching several folks who looked to be in their twenties, parading past her door with small kids.

My aunt explained that the management who runs the building had allowed a lot of young single moms to move into the building. There were numerous problems not only from the noise the kids kept up, but the young women were not particular about the adult company they kept. Their babies' daddies were in and out, some of them staying there with the women illegally. I thought that was unaccepatable; senior living communities should not have to contend with kids being underfoot at all.

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How Purple Women Came to Be

This is the short story of me and how Purple WomenTM came to be.

About 10 years ago, I went to the local library to look for a book which might shed light on the lifestyle choice that I was facing. All I found were books on infertility treatment, surrogate parenting and adoption. I wanted a book that would help me understand what a life without children would be like, or could be like. I wanted to learn about what they were able to accomplish, about the tradeoffs, their friendships and significant other relationships. There were no such books for me.

At first I was surprised, then I got angry. By fault of omission, “the system” was telling me that my greatest value to society was that of a baby-making machine – that there were no other roles, at least none worth writing about or taking up space on a library shelf.

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Kids & Punching Bags

When I'm in the boxing gym, I never seem to be annoyed by kids hanging around the gym. It's probably because boxing is a sport I love, so I have something in common with the other kids who box, and even the ones who come around out of curiosity.

There was a boy who kept peeping around into the gym Wednesday night. He asked what kind of room it was, and I told him. I also gave him extra information about when the youth coach is around, although I was hoping that would discourage him from actually walking into the gym. The gym is located in a fieldhouse where kids are always around. If you let one kid in, several more follow, and kids aren't supposed to be in the gym when the adults are there.

The kid left and came back to peep in several times, then came in. I had to lightly admonish him against hitting the bags and jumping rope. Normally, I would lose my patience, but I did tell him that he was welcome to watch (since it seemed no other kids were with him), and repeated that there are other days when the kids are allowed to box in the gym. That seemed to satisfy him, so he stayed for a little while then left.

I encourage the boys who are already in the program to do their best, and if I see girls standing around who look like they have some interest, I encourage them too. Boxing is one of those areas where I tolerate kids easily.

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April 26, 2006

Wanted: Childfree Role Models

As a childfree 40-year-old, married woman I fit squarely in the category of those who are deemed to have an atypical adult identity. My husband and I live happily outside the mainstream, but at times it has been lonely. I have struggled to accept and define myself by my alternative family status. This became more of a crisis for me as more of our friends got married and had kids, thus altering their lives and our relationship with them, forever. It didn’t help that we chose to live in the burbs. Now I seek out childfree friends who have more time to socialize.

I am used to being categorized and marginalized, if not for my childfree status, then for some other reason. My husband is a baby boomer. I am Generation X, but missing the lower back tattoo and only my ears are pierced. I heard a new term on a talk radio program recently: omniracial. Omiogosh, I thought, that’s me too! I am half Cambodian with a touch of Portuguese, and on the American side Germanic and Irish decent. Okay, who wants a piece of me? I really felt for Tiger Woods when the media was going crazy over his ethnicity.

A while back, when I was still living in California I managed a swim school. It was a step off the beaten path of nonprofit fundraising for me, but I loved that job. All the kids called me Miss Teri and I got really good at guessing children’s ages, age three through nine. A close family member had encouraged me to take the job. She said, “It will be good for you to be around children and families.” She was right and this experience helped me realize that I am good with children -- something I never knew before, partly because I am an only child.

It was fun to play with other people’s kids. I think back now and realize that I was testing myself to see if being around children would drive me one way or anther, perhaps to pursue adoption or foster parenting.
The experience was a good one for me, but in the end I decided to remain childfree. The “deciding to decide” and then accepting the decision, and acting upon it, was a very important step for me.

The knowledge that I could not bear children of my own haunted me throughout my 20s and 30s, and I have struggled to find my own reason for being, my purpose in life. I have often wondered if the childfree have an important role or even a duty to society, our family and our community to give back or make a difference in some way -- since our greatest achievement will not be a child. Some would argue that not having a child is our gift to the earth.

This conversation with myself has evolved over the years. Lately, I’ve been wondering if perhaps we should be the first-responders in case of crises? I think my need for significance is why I was drawn to work in the nonprofit sector. More recently, I have come to see my childfree status an opportunity to immerse myself in what I am passionate about, so that I may leave my mark on the world (blogosphere?), even if it’s only chicken scratch!

At this mid-point in life, a time when life-review is not un-common, I am still looking around me for good role models. I have been lucky to find a few along the way.

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April 24, 2006

Book Review: The Childless Revolution; What it Means to be Childless Today

At first I was put off when I read the Author’s Note at the front of the book. What surprised me was that Madelyn Cain is a mother. The little voice in my head was saying, “Why would I want a mother telling me how it is to be childfree? That’s the book I am writing!” I thought she had no right. Perhaps this is reason Madelyn Cain felt it necessary to add this additional author’s note, to set the stage for the reader.

Ms. Cain approaches the book as one looking over the fence at a path not taken, admitting that her late start at a family almost precluded her from having one – at least they way she envisioned it. She wrote the book “The Childless Revolution” because she wondered what life would have been like as a non-parent, who she would be. She also recounts how she was witness to the criticism and unkindness that her childfree friends were treated to when someone discovered their intentionally childless status. So, her cause is noble.

Most impressive about her book is the scholarly approach. It is well documented and I will probably read many of the books that she has cited (a few we have already visited here on this blog). She opened my eyes to the trend we, the childfree, represent. She cites an article in the magazine American Demographic, December 1993:

There will be a 44% increase in the number of childless couples by the year 2010.

So, the cat’s been out of the bag for a while – but it’s news to me. As the author points out, you just don’t get this kind of news in the women’s magazines.

Ms. Cain is a good storyteller. Though scholarly, her writing is succinct and not without passion. I enjoyed her retelling of a story about a mom who, upon learning her co-worker was childfree said “she was only complete when she became a mother.” The co-worker wished she’d thought of a better come back like, “Oh Honey, I feel like a woman every time I have an orgasm!”

I particularly appreciated her treatment on the assumption that women will regret their decision not to have children. She believes that the reality of facing loniness in old age applies to us all, regarless of family status and offers the results of this study (“Old Age: Are the Childless More Vulnerable?” Jounals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (Vol. 53B, No. 6, November 1998) to prove it:

[There is] no significant differences in loneliness and depression between parents and childless adults.

She asks us to spread the good word to our childfree friends.

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April 22, 2006


While I was in the middle of trying to figure out how to divide the cost of office supplies between programs, one of the persons who gives direct service to the kids asks could they use my phone to call another staff person. After they ended the call, I was asked if I was going to step across the hall to attend an event that the kids had put together. "I have too much work to do," I replied. As the person left, they said, "Aw, you could come by for five minutes. The kids would like that." Apparently, she was new on the job, and had not attended the staff meeting a few weeks ago where I openly stated that I had no interest in rubbing shoulders with the kids.

Sometime later, my boss comes in and asks if I'm going to attend the event. "I was not planning to do so," I told him. "Maybe if you went to more events like that around here, you'd be more comfortable around children," he smiled. It is not a matter of me being uncomfortable around kids. There are several kids and teens that I am fond of, but that is a very short list. I know he meant well. I also know that being parent himself, he doesn't completely understand why some people prefer to be childfree. I don't understand why people believe that all children are worthy of being liked. I don't like the kids at my job.

It's just like George Carlin said in one of his shows: some kids are smart, some aren't. I worked at an ice rink a several years ago, a place that was infested by rude youths, egged on by their parents, who had clearly passed on their entitlement attitudes to them. After one particularly hellish day, I grumbled that I didn't like any of the kids. My then boss heard me and said in astonishment, "But you have to like kids!" I looked at him like he had suddenly taken leave of his senses. The people who get so offended when they hear anyone saying anything against children--do they like all the kids who are around them? Do they like all of the adults?

My Quest for a Childfree Man

In the process of writing the outline for my book and documentary, I was forced to recall the years I was a single woman, dating. I hated dating because those first dates where so damn awkward. The only way I could endure them was to go into the first date with such low expectations of how it might turn out that it would be impossible to be disappointed.

I never expected to be swept off my feet. I never expected a phone call the next day. I never thought of these first dates as a way to qualify a future husband. It was just an opportunity to spend time with a guy who seemed interesting and fun.

That strategy seemed to work. Usually there was a second or third date, time to assess if this guy was going to be someone you wanted to keep around. Some were keepers, some were not.

I knew at 15 years old that I did not want to be a Mom, so when a relationship got serious, I felt compelled to spill the beans. That was usually the end. And, rightly so. I knew I could not marry a man who wanted children of his own, and I wasn't going to pretend otherwise.
So when I finally found a guy who was in his thirties who didn't care if he had kids or not, I was thrilled.

I knew that life with a childfree man was going to be very different:
--I was never going to be pressured into having a child.
--I would be his partner, rather than the mother of his children.
--I would be free to pick and choose just how I might want to express my femaleness, outside of the prescribed role of Mom.
--We would have the time to nurture each other and our relationship.
--We could take risks, financial and otherwise, without risking a child's future.

I also knew that if I married a childfree man:
--I would likely never experience the challenges and joys of being a parent.
--I might be alone later in life.
--I will have no excuse not to do all of those things I dreamed of doing as a childfree person.
--One, or both, of us might our regret our decision not to have a child.

This July we will celebrate 18 years of marriage. Regret-free.

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April 21, 2006

Childfree in the Media #1

This morning I was watching my favorite morning news show, Breakfast TV (Channel 7 between 6 and 9 a.m.) and they were talking about blogs! Well, the volume went up immediately. I even recognized the blog template of the one they used as anexample as a Blogger.com design.

They asked viewers to email them with good blogs for the Toronto area. So of course I hopped online to alert them to what we are doing here. If you are in the GTA please see what they do with their follow up segment next week. This alert kicks off my "Childfree in the Media" blogpost series.

Stay tuned.

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Project Update: Purple Women Blog & Book

To date, 135 Purple WomenTM have taken the survey. The online portion of my research will conclude when the number of valid surveys hits the intended goal of 200. My heartfelt thanks to all who have participated thus far. When the survey is over, I will begin a publicity blitz about the project and release the results of the first half (quantifiable data) over a period of two weeks, taking on one question per day as a blog topic. I hope this will spur some good conversation.

If by chance you have started the survey and not had a chance to finish it (yes, you can quit and come back to it), please do so soon and by all means tell a childfree lady friend (living in North America, the focus of the survey) if you haven't already.

I am now able to focus 100% on developing Purple WomenTM, the blog and the book. In the last few weeks, I have concentrated on recruiting new blog team members (ideally from all over the world), developing and maintaining good content, and building a readership (who hopefully will also feel compelled to comment -- bloggers live for comments). Now, it is time to sit down and develop a book outline and create a book proposal.

You may have noticed some changes to the sidebar. There will be more to come. Click through on GeoVisitors to view what part of the world (yes, it's a global publishing medium) our audience/readership is logging in from. I've also added a free StatCounter to track a ridiculous number of detailed statistics for our team blog. At some point I may make the results public, but not until its news worthy.

Technorati has made some nice upgrades to their free service and I am taking advantage of their metatag solution for making a site easier to search. Try typing in the word "book" to the search tool I've added at the bottom and see what happens. We're a literate group! I also added a bit of code that they provide which allows a blogger to assign searchable tags to their individual posts (see below). This will help visitors search for topics within the blog or within Technorati. When I have time, I will go back and edit all my previous posts to include these tags. I have also used their tag system to make external, free searches more successful by tagging the entire blog with these terms:

  • child-free
  • child free
  • childfree
  • childless
  • non-parent
  • no kids
  • lifestyle
  • women
  • woman
A while back I added a small Amazon.com ad to the sidebar. I have so far hand only one click through on my Amazon Associates account. If you're looking for your next good read (perhaps a PW book review has inspired you?) please click that button. A portion of the purchase will go to support this site.

And away we go -- blog on!

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April 20, 2006

Short Education

I knew a woman while I attended the first college I went to who was crazy about a boyfriend she had back home. She disappeared from school before the year was out. A couple of years later, I ran into her within a department store. She had a little girl with her, and the boyfriend was no where to be found.

College ended for me that time because I flunked out. Eventually, I went back and finished my degree. I doubt that my friend ever did. She wasn't the only woman I knew during that time that had an unplanned pregnancy interupt her education. I was always told that getting an education and having a child at the same time did not mix. That's not to say that there aren't people who do that and overcome regardless. I have known them as well. However, everyone who postpones education doesn't always make it back to pick up their books again, especially if they have to deal with the needs of a family.

April 19, 2006

Third Wave: Thirdspace.ca

A Purple Woman forwarded this interesting article to me last week:

Mom’s the Word: Musings on Being Childless
by Amy Leask (November 2004)

It was published in a new online feminist journal called Thirdspace.ca. This group in British Columbia is developing their site as an online community of women scholars. Yet another good use of technology to make the world a better place.

Going forward, I will be blogging here about how we, the childfree (Purple WomenTM and their male counterparts), are portrayed in the media in a series titled: Childfree in the Media.

April 18, 2006

Caught Between Worlds

Sometimes I feel like I'm caught between different worlds. I don't really fit with the single crowd since I'm married. And yet, I feel like I don't fit with the married crowd either as most of them either have kids or are planning to have them. Having grown up overseas, a "Third-Culture-Kid", I've often felt out of place my entire life. In a sense, I feel sad that I continue to feel out of place even as an adult. Yet I am 100% convinced that I have made the right choice for me. Perhaps that is what helps me during the times I feel out-of-it. My favorite quote is "I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe."

April 15, 2006

Purple Men

First, an overdue apology. I’ve had an attack of blogger’s conscience. In creating this space, this opportunity to join in an online community of childfree women, I have intentionally excluded two groups: people with kids (yes, that includes step-parents with responsibility for step-kids), and more gender specifically, men. My apologies to the Purple Men™ out there. What pains me even more is that I may be inadvertently digging a deeper hold for childfree women in my need to give us a new label, when I am really trying to build a bridge between us and families that include parents (that’s everybody else folks). Why is adult childfree status so often colored as a women’s issue?

Perhaps it is because even in our modern day families, blended or not, men are technically childfree, given the amount of child-rearing duties that fall to the women in these scenarios. “He said he would help change the diapers”, but did it really work out that way? It goes the same for household chores, in most cases. Here I have to say I have had personal affiliation with an exception. My first husband was the best house-keeper a woman could every marry. (He used to call me “piglet” – and I am really not that bad.) I may have to read more Naomi Wolf to really understand this gender discrepancy issue. Can you say double-standard?

Or perhaps it’s because women bear the impending child for 9 months (I will side-step the issue of when it becomes a child – that’s another blog), and physically brings forth a new person into this world? I just love the commercial that is currently airing where a young, we assume married, couple are eating a “dreamy” ice cream bar together, she being obviously well into her (or should I say their) pregnancy. The scene cuts to him in a day dream about I-don’t-remember-what, then we view her day dream about him on a hospital bed surrounded by doctors and a nurse. His legs are spread wide apart and he is bearing down with tremendous effort and pain trying to give birth to their child as he turns to his wife and yells accusingly, “You did this to me!” Funny, ha, ha. I bet we’d have a lot more openly childfree men if the tables were turned for real.

The first category of visibly, out-in-the-open, childfree men that comes to mind are men of faith – er, the leadership class of them that is. Men of the cloth, until recently, have been held in high esteem for their sacrifice and devotions, as demonstrated in their supposed celibacy. I will go out on a limb here to say that I think suppressing a natural human urge has created some very unnatural and damaging consequences for the very people they are supposed to be nurturing. Wouldn’t it be a whole lot better if we approached the concept of sexuality and family in a more open and accepting manner? Why should one person’s definition of family be right for everyone? Why should celibacy be forced upon the leaders of the faithful? It seems to me they could counsel more wisely if they actually walked in the shoes of their followers. But who am I to say? I am merely an interested observer.

Another stereotype of a childfree man is the perpetual bachelor. Think of the playboys of the world, or of their Hollywood counterparts. Think of the character played by Pierce Brosnan in the 1999 remake of the 1968 classic The Thomas Crown Affair. (Can I just say here that I love this movie, and that both lead characters are Purple!) I was minding my own business in a brew pub after work one evening when I struck up a conversation with a man who introduced himself as “a player of sorts”. I gathered from our ensuing conversation that he had more than one woman on the side, who did not necessarily know about each other. He had worked hard and made his mark in high tech and now he was just coasting, working hard on his tennis game and courting interesting women. (No, I am not among them.) The burning question I was too polite to ask was whether or not he had first abandoned a family and children to pursue this bachelor lifestyle, or if he was wise enough to skip all that heartache to choose a childfree lifestyle in the first place? In my heart, I really want to believe the latter. Maybe my next survey will be for Purple Men™.

On that note, I must point out a small change to the Purple Women™ blog template that I made a few weeks ago. Did anybody notice? At the top, the blog description clearly defines a Purple Woman and now it invites “perfect strangers (of either gender and any persuation)” to blog about a childfree lifestyle. To be really proper, I should probably change the blog title to “Purple and Lovin’ It!” like the book title recently reviewed here. Nah.

P.S. Blogging from the road here. Visiting my Mum and step-Dad in Michigan for Easter weekend.

April 12, 2006

Babies Change The Scene

I had gone to my boxing coach's house this past weekend to view a pay-per-view match. There were several people there, including two babies. Coach was tending to his son, since his wife had gone out with friends that evening. The youth coach had brought along his wife, and they had their four-month old daughter with them. Both kids are cute. Couldn't help but notice, however, the different dynamic when kids are present. In the past when a group of us would gather to watch boxing matches, it was purely an adult affair. Now there are kids cooing and/or being fussy in the midst of the comments about the technique of the boxers on the television.

Both coaches seem to have adjusted to the new stage in their lives. I know I couldn't handle the disruption to my routine. There was an acquaintance of mine who told me about a friend of hers who had a child late in life. Her and the friend were on their way out the door to attend a party, when the friend realized she had not made any arrangements for the baby to be watched. "She had been so used to doing what she wanted to do," the acquaintance told me. It's no way I could just rearrange my life for that situation. I guess I've really become set in my ways.

April 11, 2006

Book Review: The Baby Trap

I was 11 years old when I first heard about Ellen Peck and her book, The Baby Trap. For two mind-blowing weeks, the library copy occupied a spot on my book shelf right next to my Judy Blume novels. Years later, I was able to get a copy of my own, and I have re-read it many times since. Originally published in 1971, at the height of the enviromental and Zero Population Growth movements, the book speaks as eloquently and passionately to me today as it had back then.

This book is a must-have for any childfree library. Buy it. Steal it. Borrow it. Just read it. (While it is out of print, most online booksellers do have copies available). This book can be read in one gulp; not because it's light on content, but because it is so well-written and frank that it cuts right to the chase regarding the childfree vs. child-rearing decision. Through personal anecdotes and well-researched case histories, Ms. Peck discusses the cultural brainwashing that takes place via merchandising, the media, and the culture at large. The book also contains frank discussions regarding abortion and birth control, as well as a chapter on how to uh, "turn up the heat" in your childfree marriage. Both chapters wouldn't be included had the book been published in today's overly politically correct climate; the overall tone and content of the book makes it a gem in and of itself. Time will stop when you read this book, take my word for it.

The book closes with a call to childfree people everywhere to work for a more equitable society in terms of workplace policies, taxation, and overall perceptions of childfree people. Sadly, things have not changed much. Ms. Peck was instrumental in the early childfree movement, and the book is a powerful, concise call to arms for all childfree people and their supporters. Read on and enjoy!

April 04, 2006

Appreciating the Silence

I let out a sigh of relief when I left work this afternoon. I have been coming home lately and not turning on the TV or the radio until late. Most days at work are filled with noise from the kids who are in the building. When I first started working there nearly four years ago, the noise level was not as bad. Now that the boss has allowed the child psychiatrists to use a couple of empty offices on the floor, the noise level, which has steadily gone up, has been raised some more. When I get home, the last thing I want to hear is more of that, so I've been spending many evenings in silence.

My mom always had a low tolerance for a lot of noise, and I guess I picked it up honestly from her. My younger sister and I would think we were talking at normal levels in our room, and Mom would bellow from downstairs. "Modulate your voices! You are talking too damn loud!" On Sunday, one could hear a pin drop in our house. Mom spent a good part of the day reading the newspaper, and she did not want to be disturbed. Simple requests like, "Can I have a drink of water?" or "Can I go outside?" were met with a hard stare from over the top of her eyeglasses.

I never cease to amazed at the high levels of noise in houses where kids and/or teens are present. High pitched squeals, constant giggling, squabbles over anything, CD players booming, and more. Whenever my youngest niece comes to visit me, the TV is always tuned to the daily video music show and the phone receiver remains glued to her ear. I wonder how parents can stand it day in and day out. It seems most of them have no control over the noise, or else, they've given up trying.

I'm an Auntie....Not!

2005 was a rough year for me, and I was glad to see it go. To completely shake loose the cobwebs from such a horrific year, I decided to learn something new: Skateboarding. It's fun, it's done outdoors, and it's a lot less risky than, say, being openly childfree in such a kid-crazy culture. After a series of lessons, my instructor suggested I meet up with her and a group of women at the local skate park for some skating and hanging out; she belonged to an organization for women who skateboarded...sounded like fun to me, so I loaded up by board, pads, and helment and headed to the local skatepark. Sure, the name "Mom" figured prominently in the title of the organization, but I didn't give it a second thought.

Silly me. While I met some really interesting, fun women who loved to skate, they spent a lot of time deciphering who was who. If you have kids, well, of course, you're ranked as a "Mom". If you don't have kids, you're an "Auntie" in the group parlance. Um, OK. I'm not even an Auntie away from the skatepark, so I was a little baffled as to why I was one at the skatepark. I don't know any of their kids, and based on the ages of the majority of them, I'll pass, thanks. The group's founder assures all website visitors that even though they may not be a mom, they're still welcome to join. Is she sure? The logo features a woman on skates pushing a stroller, and their annual skate jam/fundraiser is held on, yep, Mother's Day. The hidden message is although you may not have kids, you can still join us, but you'll be relegated to a lesser status via your title.

Don't get me wrong; each woman I met was gutsy, funny, athletic, and we hall had a great time. The organization itself serves a need for adult women who love the sport of skateboarding; it gives us a chance to meet up, socialize and skate. What I would love to see is a group where the participants aren't sorted and boxed according to their reproductive status.

Just like what I'd love to see in the culture at large.......

Roles I’ve Played

If your life were a series of short plays (award-winning, of course) what roles, other than Mother, would you say you have played? One of my fellow contributors on the Purple Women team blog, affectionately known to us as “Twiga92”, posted this list on her personal blog: Twiga92's List

Here is mine:

PR Maven
Book Developer
Web Content Consultant
Board Member
Event Planner
Tenant (again)
Red Cross Certified Lifeguard (at age 38)
Swim School Manager
Atisan Breadmaker (
Grand Café)
Lover (er, just never you mind...)
Cat Lover
Mom (just kidding, I wanted to see if you’d read to the end!)

What’s on yours?

April 03, 2006

Book Review: I'm Okay, You're a Brat

I'm Okay, You're a Brat by Susan Jeffers, PhD

I don't know that I can really review this book as I didn't actually read it in its entirety. After reading part of it, I felt that it was too negative for my tastes and looked through the rest of it instead of actually reading it. For anyone who is ambivalent about the decision whether or not to have kids, this book would most likely push them over the edge to remain without children. The downsides and perils to parenthood are outlined over and over throughout the book. Reasons why people have children are outlined and discussed. Most of the reasons are not really good reasons for taking on such a large responsibility. For instance, "all our friends are having kids" is not a good reason to start a family!

This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is an honest look at parenthood. Here is a quote near the beginning that I found encouraging:

More and more people are withstanding the intense pressure they feel from family and friends, and deciding that while they might indeed love any children they would have, they doubt whether they would love the Parenthood role. And they are deciding not to have children.

In the absence of desire, is there really a choice?

My current full-time job, what I have come to call The Childless by Choice Project, was the subject of an article that appeared in a regional newspaper last week. At the end of the article, childfree readers were invited to call if they would like to participate in the project. As of today, I have received over 25 calls from childfree readers who were pleased to read that others where similarly compelled to remain childfree. I say "remain" childfree because I enjoy reminding people that we all start out "childfree."

One of my callers was troubled by the nomenclature. She did not identify as either Childless by Choice or Childfree even though she was happily and intentionally without children. Given her early influences, her own knowing, she felt she had no choice.

I have also struggled with the terms "Childfree" and "Childless by choice." To me "Childfree" implies ease, and as many of us know being childfree isn't always easy. As this caller reminded me, identifying yourself as childfree or childless by choice comes with risks--in her case, social isolation in a small Jewish community.
Although I choose to identify myself as childless by choice, I personally feel that in the absence of desire or longing for a child there is no choice. Parenthood is too big a responsibility to take on half-heartedly. And, because I chose to have children in my life as a mentor and volunteer, in this sense I am not free of children at all.

What's in a name? When it comes to something so heartfelt or prewired, it's your sense of self.

Below is the link to the article that sparked all the calls.

Childless by Choice by Beth Macy

April 01, 2006

Upbeat Childfree Chat...and More!

Looking for a great childfree forum that embraces the positive side of being childfree? Stop by positivelychildfree.com and you'll meet a great group of childfree men and women discussing pets, work/school, home, health, relationships, and of course, the childfree lifestyle. There are surveys, and the Friday Five each Friday to get the weekend juices flowing. As a pet lover, I especially get a kick out of the pet-related posts. You'll find no hateful, devisive language here, only the occaisional strongly- worded post directed more at societal attitudes than at people in general. Their link is Positively Childfree