July 31, 2006

BlogHer and the Purple Woman

How best to capture how absolutely amazing it was to be at BlogHer - the second annual conference of women bloggers in San Jose, California over the weekend? I was among 750 women who blog about their passions and their politics (WomenMatter)…women who want to change the world, and women who have changed the world with their words and actions.

One of the most amazing things that happened was that the first woman I met said, "I've read your blog".

It was a particular thrill meet our very own Chase in person. I still don't know how she found me in the crowd that gathered for the final session which featured Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post on a panel leading a discussion about “losing the fear” and gettin’ bloggy with it. I also attended sessions about online Community-Building, and three panels: Blogging about Sensitive Issues, Gender and Identity Issues, and Team Blogging.

The organizers, Elise, Lisa and Jory did an excellent job of creating and fostering a sense of sharing and collaboration and I thought their sponsors were well-chosen. I got to meet gals from Technorati, a service that has greatly enhanced our blog’s exposure, and learn about BlogBurst, an emerging way to syndicate blogs through major online media outlets. You will notice we have joined a beta test for MeCommerce, from the new bookstore in the sidebar. Also met a gal from Dogster.com and Catster.com and I am hoping we can explore a future collaboration, given the number of us who adore our “child-substitutes”.

One of the most amazing things that happened was that the first woman I met said, "I've read your blog". She works for a company that has pioneered a new FDA-approved permanent, non-invasive contraceptive for women. I am researching it now and a story is forthcoming.

I wrapped things up by having dinner with three food bloggers and a Canadian. There were overwhelming numbers of mommy bloggers present, but I managed to find the Purple WomenTM among them, including Sue from Guelph, Ontario who does the Breast of Canada calendar and writes an edu-blog about Menopause.

It’s great to be in California. Luckily there’s been a break in the extreme heat. Hope your summer is going swimmingly!

Next week: Specific take-aways from the conference, as they apply to this blog, and where we're heading. Please give me some feedback and help me create a vision that we all want to be a part of.

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July 27, 2006

Say What?!

"Marriage is not about love. It’s about a love that can bear children."


This quote, featured in the Verbatim column in this weeks Time Magazine was attributed to Todd Akin, a congressman from Missouri, who was calling for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the U.S.

Sounds like an endorsement for a loveless marriage, or polygamy, or divorce. Wife infertile? Take another wife. Husband shooting blanks? Divorce him and find someone else.

The man of your dreams has had a vasectomy? Dump him.


What’s love got to do with marriage?


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Child-free or Childfree?

It's a big difference to embrace being childfree as opposed to childless. The terminology draws strong feelings for those who sling these words around with some aplomb. I just finished a book which I simply cannot recommend, unless you are planning to enter academia and focus on gender issues and the status of women. The issue of ‘what do women without children call themselves?’ is raised. This particular author decides that “not-mother” is the most accurate term – er, interestingly.

The reading is dry, and heavily footnoted, if enlightening. Curious to me is the discussion about the term “child-free”. Gentle Reader, you may have noticed that I prefer to squish this word all together. That’s on purpose. But, back to the book for a moment, which is called Unwomanly Conduct: The Challenges of Intentional Childlessness, by Carolyn M. Morell (1994). For Morell, the term child-free presumes a negative attitude towards children. She compares it to “caffeine-free” or “smoke-free” environments – as in wanting to be rid of something bad. The word free can have other connotations, of course.

Which brings me to another book by journalist and humorist Lynne Truss called Eats, Shoots & Leaves: the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (2003). Much more fun to read. Based on what I learned about the fascinating hyphen, I propose that we leave it out in the name of social change, for the following reasons:

  • It is not necessary to avoid an “inelegant word collision, e.g.: “de-ice” and “shell-like”. Childfree squishes together quite well, thank you.

  • Childfree is a relatively new word and therefore not categorized as “traditionally required” as in the case of words such as un-American and anti-fill-in-the-blank.

  • Fowler’s Modern English Usage (1930) says … “wherever reasonable” the hyphen should be omitted.

  • Oxford Dictionary of English (2003) suggests the hyphen is trending the way of the do-do bird.

  • House style be damned!
I’d rather split hairs than split a perfectly good word. So, child-free or childfree? If it really is a child-free environment, then hyphenate by all means, but if you’re describing yourself or a friend, leave it out.

Or, we could simply be Purple.

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July 25, 2006

Taking a Stand: Reproductive Rights

A reader from the International Leadership Forum in La Jolla, California recently shared this article:

Core Issue Missing from Birth-Control War Reports
by Gloria Feldt

Perhaps a discussion about the real option to remain childfree should be a part of the comprehensive programs teaching family decision-making skills to our young people. Gloria’s article is a lengthy counter-point to a May 2006 New York Times Magazine article titled “War on Contraception”.

At the heart of her argument, an enlightening factoid:

“Title X of the Public Health Services Act — the backbone of subsidized family planning health services for low-income uninsured women [in the U.S.] — is less than half what it was in 1980 when adjusted for inflation…Meanwhile, funding for abstinence-only programs that provide no health services has catapulted from near-zero to almost equal Title X.”
There lies the battle front. Let’s face it. There wouldn’t be as many Purple WomenTM as there are today without access to proper birth control. We also have the right to a more permanent solution should we so desire it. The funding to Title X does not affect all childfree women, just the ones who need it most: those who cannot afford it.

A quick peak at Gloria’s bio describes a legend in her own time. She is definitely clear on where she stands and is willing to stand up for it. We can admire her for that, even if we don’t agree with everything she stands for.

There's a vote coming. Will yours be counted?

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July 24, 2006

Survey Results #4 of 4

The last one in the series of posts sharing responses to questions 1-14 from the multiple choice section of the Purple WomenTM survey:

10. How satisfied would you say you are with your childfree life?
(Scale of 1-5, 5 is best)

72% Very Satisfied
18% Satisfied
9% Somewhat Satisfied
1% Unsatisfied
0% Not Satisfied

11. Current Relationship Status

24.3% Single (check if between relationships or never married)
53% Married
0.5% Widow
22.3% Committed relationship, but not married

12. What stereotyped role (I know I hate them too, but they are handy for surveys) best fits you? Please check as many as apply or skip this question (let your whimsy run free!).

64.6% Cool Auntie (I like kids but you can have them back when I’m done)
5.7% School Marm (I am surrounded by kids all day but not when I go home!)
24% Zero Population Activist (I live very green and recycle everything.)
Career Woman (It’s all about disposable income baby!)
12% Artiste (Money isn’t important, art is.)
10.3% The Procrastinator (Biological Clock victim)
4.0% Higher Calling (Married to God/Buddha/Allah etc.)
17.7% Mr./Ms. Right already had his/her tubes tied.

A total of 38 participants were either stumped by the above question or did not find a stereotype applicable to their experience, as they opted out of this question. Perhaps they are career women? My mistake for not including this option. The responses to the essay questions are more revealing.

13. Are you a childfree woman (without children by adoption or marriage)?

Yes 99%
No 1%

The survey and blog participants have since taught me that there is such a thing as a childfree step-parent.

14. Before you move to the next part of the survey, are you willing to participate in this survey (anonymously) with the understanding that the results of this study will be published in a book called Purple WomenTM?

Yes 99.5%
No 0.5%

Note: The title of the book may change, especially if I go with a traditional publisher.

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July 20, 2006

Purple Minds Think Alike

by Guest Contributor
CarpeWritem (a.k.a. Man in Black)

As most of us know, choosing to go through life without raising children is not what most people expect or even want to learn about their friends, family or neighbors. Although the concept is becoming more popular, those of us who've made that decision are still well inside the minority circle. We're aware of that.

Women obviously make up a vast majority of those who are preyed upon because of their decision. They hear it from family and friends usually, but sometimes even total strangers get in a dig. It's frustrating (especially to those unattached singles who have no one to fall back on and commiserate with – trust me, I know), but...

to those ladies who stand behind their decision with a tactful, non-threatening reply and a winning smile: you go, girl!

That's exactly the right thing to do, in my humble opinion. And if they've caught you on one of those "get me out of here before I beat the crap out of this idiot" days, well, a good zinger sometimes does the trick.

The feedback from my first blog post is starting to tell me something. The comments from those who answered (I love the entire Cooper-load of 'em) makes me wonder why men are almost never challenged on the childfree idea. I stress the word "almost", here - it does happen, just not as often as you would think.

Naturally, we don't have to deal with pregnancy, childbirth and the associated events (and I'm not even going to attempt to go down that road), but aside from that, aren't all the other reasons for choosing "childfreedom" the same? Members of both sexes do not want kids because they: enjoy sleep, would rather spend their money elsewhere, have other ways of bettering society, don't like messes...pick a reason.

Now, I'm not saying that all articles written on being childfree focus solely on women. I've seen plenty of men interviewed. And the last thing I want is to drive a wedge between the sexes – there's enough of that already. I'm merely wondering why more childfree men don't speak up about their decision.

Are we inherently lazier than women? Do we not like the limelight and stay in the shadows to avoid ruining "a good thing"? Do the single guys simply want more chances to get laid? Does the press not care as much because we're men? The list goes on...I'll leave you with this:

Kudos to the men and women who stick up for their decision to be childfree. Not everyone does, and not everyone has to. It's okay if you don't, but my guess is that there are probably just as many Purple Men as there are Purple WomenTM out there. (Actually, if "Men are from Mars" as the famous book states, wouldn't that make us green?)

Until Next Time...

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July 18, 2006

How do we define "Childfree"?

In the course of doing research for my book on couples who are childfree by choice, I interviewed Duke University demographer and sociologist Dr. S. Philip Morgan. He asked how I determined who was childfree. I responded that my survey respondents were self-identified based on my main qualifier which was: Are you childless by choice, rather than circumstance?

I did not exclude singles or stepparents in my research and survey but, by intention, the subjects of my book and documentary are married or in partnerships in which both parties have chosen to remain childfree. I did this because these couples grapple with the stigma of childlessness to a greater degree than do singles or stepparents. I did exclude from my survey those who had intended children but lacked the opportunity or were infertile. I determined that these folks did not have the means or the opportunity to be biological parents and therefore were not really free to choose.

Yet, they are free to be childfree. In the past few years, I have met infertile couples who describe themselves as childfree. I have met stepparents who are childless by choice. I have met childfree singles. Much has to do with intention or attitude as we cannot predict with 100% percent accuracy who will be childless at the end of life. Some people who intend to have kids change their minds and some who intend to remain childless end up having kids. All might have identified as childfree at one stage in their lives.

So is childfree a process, a state of being or an attitude, or is the term reserved for those who intended to be childless and remained so for the rest of their lives? I invite your responses.

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Do you know The Secret?

I watched The Secret on Sunday morning. For those of you who have not heard about The Secret, it's a movie about the secret to a successful, healthy and abundant life.

I have been on a personal development (some call it spiritual) journey for quite some time now and watching this revelation only confirmed what I've been studying for years. The movie not only makes you think about why you have the kind of life you have but it teaches you simple techniques to change or improve it.

The law of attraction is the key to everything in life. Knowing how to apply it can dramatically modify the results you create in every aspect of your life. This movie is worth a look, you can download it for US$5 per view or buy the dvd at a store near you.

This movie helped me understand why I have the people I have around me, including the ones that support my childfree lifestyle, that thank God, are many!

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The Color of Purple

Purple (as opposed to Green, Pink, or fill-in-the-blank) Women has proven to be an interesting naming strategy. It certainly makes people curious, but it takes a lot of explaining. My hope was that it would start a conversation, whereas a title like “Childfree, so there” might be a bit of a turn-off.

People always ask: “Why purple?” I can answer that in several ways, but what’s even more interesting is what people have shared with me about the color purple.

1. Purple is the color that the cervix turns when a woman is about to give birth. (All together now: “Eeeeeeeeeeeeew!” Sorry, I had to get that one out of the way first.)

2. Purple is the color of the highest denomination poker chip = $5,000.

3. Purple is the color of royalty.

4. Purple is associated with a famous poem by Jenny Jones about women who wear the color.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me..."

5. The Color Purple is a book by Alice Walker which was made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey and is now a Broadway musical.

6. Purple is associated with the cause to stop violence against women and children. The Purple Ribbon Campaign was initiated by the Women’s Action Coalition of Nova Scotia following the December 6, 1989 killing of 14 women in Montreal, according to their website.

7. Purple has long been the color of the women's movement, beginning with the suffragettes and is a symbol of pain and suffering. (According to a men-centric, pro-feminist website.)

It is good to be enlightened while surfing the third wave.

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Survey Results #3

Oh, fiddledee dee. Where did Monday go? Oh yeah, I was floating down the Saugeen River fly fishing...

On June 30, the Purple WomenTM survey was completed with a total of 213 participants. Each week, I share results. The first half of the survey was all multiple choice question, so that's pretty easy to do (on Tuesdays).

7. What is your age? (awe, come on...it's anonymous remember?):

25-35 "Shouldn't you be married with kids?" 35.3%

36-45 "What no kids yet?" 45.8%

46-55 "How did you keep your figure all these years!" 10.9%

56-65 "You're doing WHAT this weekend?" 2.5%

66+ "My are'nt WE eccentric?" .5%

Other (Please specify) 5% (A total of 10 respondents -- and I don't know if they're youngsters or sages!)

8. What is your sexual orientation?

I'm into Men exclusively. (Heterosexual) 85.6%

I dig women, um, a lot. (Lesbian) .5%

I brake for Angelina too! (Bisexual) 10.4%

I'ved chosen celibacy so it really doesn't matter! 3.5%

9. In your opinion, what is the greatest perk of your childfree lifestyle? Please select one.

Quiet, Whenever I want it! 34.5%

More discposable income 14%

Opportunity to Travel 13%

Time to pursue hobbies or art. 19%

Able to focus on my career. 8.5%

Higher relationship satisfaction. 19.5%

Other (please specify) 24.5%

In each of the three questions (7-9 multiple choice) 13 participants skipped the question.

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Church and the Childfree

It seems most churches are geared towards families - parents and children. There are some with good singles ministries, but I haven't come across any that are geared towards the married without children, unless they are newly married and haven't had any kids yet.

Children's ministries abound at most churches. AWANA is a ministry where children gather weekly to play games, do crafts and recite memorized Scripture verses. Most churches have a yearly Vacation Bible School with a theme to attract kids.

For all these children's ministries, the church needs adults and teens to run them. But what if you don't enjoy working with children or don't have a talent in that area? In my experience, churches tend to focus on making sure their children's ministries are run and they scramble for volunteers wherever they can find them. If you're not good about telling people no, you may find yourself involved without really meaning to.

I think it's good to have children's ministries in a church. But I think the focus is skewed. The childfree often feel like outcasts in their local church, especially if they don't enjoy working with children. My gifts lie in the realm of drama and interpretive dance. Yet I don't have much opportunity to use these gifts in a church that has multiple children's activities and is focused on running them.

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July 17, 2006

Why I Will Never Be 100% Childfree

My boyfriend has a 7 year-old daughter and even if I never meet her I will always in some way have a child in my life. This was a hard pill for me to swallow and at times still gets my stomach in knots.

I met my boyfriend more than 3 years ago and fell in love harder than I ever had before. He was going through a difficult divorce when I met him but despite all that I was taking on I was sure fate had a plan of it’s own.

I remember very well the day it really sunk in that he had a child already and I remember an intense feeling of panic. I realized he had a child he was responsible for and would be a part of his life forever. I had to put a lot of thought into whether he was worth taking all of this on and to the shock of many people he was.

Even though I still at that point didn’t want children of my own I began my own process of accepting his child in whatever way she was going to be in our life. I knew however it worked out it wouldn’t be easy but I felt our relationship could withstand anything. In my mind I saw at some point she’d stay with us on some weekends and holidays but I figured it would be unlikely we’d ever have sole custody.

Not only did we not get full custody but over three years later I’ve still never met her and she is not a part of our daily lives. She is although very much a part of my love’s heart and soul. I have to live with how it eats him alive to not have her a part of his life and how helpless he feels. Considering he also pays child support; his daughter effects us significantly in a financial way even though he can’t be a part of her life.

So whether or not she’s staying at our house or we’re just helping financially raise her, she’ll always be a part of our lives and that is something I’ve learned to accept. It’s hard being someone who doesn’t want the financial and emotional aspects of having children still having to bear the burden but it’s something I had to come to terms with to be with the man I love.

If ever the day comes that I will be a living/breathing stepmother to her I will do the best I can and try to be someone she can look up to. At the very least I can be someone she can talk to; that’s something I know I can do.

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July 15, 2006

Selfish or Focused?

Selfish is a label applied liberally to adults who choose not to have children, including those who always thought they’d be parents, but circumstances dictated otherwise. I prefer to think of it as focused. Childfree are otherwise focused. Perhaps we are focused on a career or cure. Perhaps not something so lofty, but contented all the same.

Perhaps a really great book or a documentary really got through to you and you realize what an impact one life (and all the trash that goes with it) makes on the earth. You live green and try to convince others to do the same. You are driven to give back because of all you are taking; the footprint you are making.

Perhaps you inherited something you don’t want to pass along. I call that selfless.

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July 14, 2006

Taking a Stand

“What is your book about?”

The working title is Purple WomenTM and it’s about women who are childfree.

“How will your book help someone who reads it?”

It’s part myth-buster and part validation, hopefully educational and entertaining all at once. We’ve been exploring a lot of issues on a team blog I created. (Blah, blah, blog, then back to the book...)

“What issues?”

(Did you hear that can open?)

Well for example, childfree women, whether they like it or not, find themselves at the center of controversy. And, I am not just talking about the religious right.

In many European countries, such as Italy and England, populations are in decline and the governments are starting to take notice. So is the media. In fact, the U.S. is the only developed nation that does not have a declining population replacement rate. This is not just a women's issue, that’s why everybody makes it their business.

Our status as childfree adults in the modern world is controversial socially, morally, and economically, depending on who you are talking to - pick an institution.
The family. Parents can be heavily invested in becoming grandparents. The church. Is “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:1) an ultimatum or a blessing? Big Brother. Government depends on a steady tax base. Hmmmm. Are you getting the picture?

Don’t even get me started on how we are portrayed in the popular media. We are so often portrayed in a negative light, I don’t even notice anymore. Purple WomenTM are the forgotten women. We’re not really purple, we look just like everyone else. We blend in just fine until we open our mouths. And that is what we must do, even if we don’t agree on everything under the sun. This book will help childfree adults do that. Men need to step up to the podium too.

I don’t expect the childfree to form a new political party or vote the same way, but I’d like more people to know who and what we are, what we contribute and the thoughtfulness and thought processes that we should be given credit for. I don’t want my life prescribed.

“Who is going to read your book?”

It’s for younger women who need know more about the option to remain childfree, women who are surprised to find themselves childfree (circumstances, not choice), and it’s also for the trail blazers who’ve already been down this path.

The most important audience is: the people who know and love them (childfree women), not to mention the clueless people you meet at backyard barbeques and baby showers, and your ex-friends. The ones who make assumptions. My book will help both sides of the conversation. I envision helpful tips in each section, and portraits of Purple WomenTM who are inspiring. Lots of quotes. Maybe some interesting hypothetical dialogue.

“What are your key messages?”

Adult does not equal parent.
That would be one.

Last month, I completed a study that 213 childfree women living in Canada and the U.S. participated in. There's a lot of wisdom there.

“You’ve got to take a stand,” said the smart lady, who later revealed to me she is purple.

I’ll be keeping her words in mind as I read, research and write. Feel free to weigh in on a subject you feel strongly about.

Next post: Selfish or Focused?

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July 13, 2006


I have great respect for most parents. I say most because I find it very difficult to respect the very small minority of parents who feel entitled to have kids and then neglect or abuse them. By their actions they will be judged.

So I find it curious when people disrespect or pass judgement on the childfree as a group. To do so they must apply broad brush prejudgments based on stereotypes rather than facts. It’s like saying "teachers are mean" or "dentists are sadistic."

Before you call me selfish, please take the time to get to know me. You don’t to have to respect me. Respect is earned, but in order for me to earn it I need to be an individual first.

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Change is Good

It bears repeating:

There are a lot of negative spaces out there where the childfree gather online and use derogatory terms for parents and their children. It was my intention to create something different, something more respectful and deserving of respect and consideration by a broader audience. Social change is a lofty goal and it takes time. Contributors and commenters here are part of that change.

We are undergoing some changes here on the blog team and I wanted to say a public thank you to NikkiJ, NomadShan, and Boxing Tomboy for their contributions. Though they are leaving the team, their personal blogs will remain in the sidebar. I am grateful that they spent some time with us here to share their personal experiences of being childfree.

Change is good. And hey, let's face it, we're childfree and we have lots of other interests!

If you are interested in becoming a Contributor to the Purple WomenTM blog, please get in touch with Teri. We all reap the rewards of collective wisdom.

Next post: Taking a Stand

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July 11, 2006

Survey Results #2

I am on the road, in Dallas, Texas attending a book publishing conference, which is a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant. My apologies for the delay. I am aiming to post these on consecutive Mondays!

4. How did you first hear about Purple WomenTM?

Purple Women website/blog: 7.5%
Friend 13.5%
eWomenNetwork 2.5%
No Kidding! 11%
Other childfree website 38.5%
Other 32% (I have no idea what this means...)

5. Where do you reside?

200 women responded to this question, 13 women left it blank. I will use this information in the story-telling for this book in progress as this was a fill-in-the-blank question.

6. What is your nationality?

American 70.5% (141 women)
Canadian 24.0% (48 women)
Other (please specify) 8% (16 women)

My requirement was that if you are taking the survey you live in either the U.S. or Canada, regardless of your citizenship status.

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July 09, 2006

Two Reasons

I have chosen not to have children, mostly for the reason that I simply don't want them. But I also have medical issues to consider. I have OCD - Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I'm on medication for it and with the medication I am able to function normally. Without the medication, daily living is difficult as I am bogged down with the little details.

As a result, if I became pregnant, there would be concerns about my going off the medication during pregnancy, birth defects in the baby and the inevitable concern of hereditary disease of passing along the OCD. It would be extremely difficult for me to function without my medication, yet most likely the doctor would want me going off it so as not to harm the baby.

This is an issue to consider. If I had wanted children, I would have needed to take this into consideration. Fortunately, my mind was already made up, but there are others who must wrestle with this issue. Mental illness can be a factor in the decision whether or not to have children. Too many people don't take the time to consider this.

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July 07, 2006

A Childfree Life

My mother-in-law visits every Christmas season and even though she drives me crazy most of the time I can have good conversations with her every once and a while.

Last Christmas we were sitting in my livingroom just having different discussions when I blurted out I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be having any children. Keep in mind she's desperate to become a grandmother and never gets to see my boyfriend's daughter for complicated reasons I will get into another time.

What was her response?

If you don't have children then what are you going to do with your life?
Her other daughter-in-law (also my best friend) was in shock I didn't lose my cool with her but I tell you I was dumbfounded by that question. What kind of question is that anyway?

This coming from a woman who the moment her kids had left home (and she was divorced from their father) she sold the home and moved from New England to Florida. She started a whole new life and nearly abandoned her role as a mother. I couldn't believe she, of all people, could ask me what someone does with their life if they aren't a parent?

At the time all I really responded with was I really wanted to travel and that I'd continue to basically do what I do now. Sometimes I think more of an answer is expected from that big of a question but I don't understand what else you can say? Staying childfree I'll just continue to live my life, what more is needed?

I can't help but wonder if when all is said and done will my life somehow be considered less because I didn't have children. If I travel all over the world, meet extraordinary people and live out my dreams will it all mean nothing if I choose not to be a mother?

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July 06, 2006

Slowed Down

Another reason I never wanted kids is because they slow you down in more ways than one. I attended the Taste of Chicago this past holiday weekend, and also allowed myself to be talked into going to see the annual fireworks show downtown. My stepmother, niece and I were nearly sidewiped and ran over several times by people with kids in strollers, carriages or Red Flyer Wagons.

What irritated me was that it was clear that most of the kids could walk, yet their parents opted to push them around. Parents seem to baby their kids these days way longer than they should. If the child is disabled, I can certainly understand the need for a stroller. But a healthy five year old can make it under their own power.

I walk fast out of habit. When I was a kid, my mother had no patience for any of us kids poking along. I was reminded of that when my 18-year old niece complained about walking for several blocks while we were trying to locate the house of one of my aunts a few days ago. My niece lives in a small town where you must have a vehicle to get around or you can't go anywhere. She is used to being chauffered around by family and friends whenever she needs to go somewhere. I did not grow up with a car in the house, so I know nothing about that experience.

My mother never learned how to drive, and she considered a car to be an unnecessary expense. In Chicago, you can easily do without a car due to the vast public transportation system. However, public transportation does not offer door-to-door service like a car does. It's usually another few blocks when you get off the train or the bus before you get to your destination. My niece was at least several feet behind me most of the time, while I marched along, having long ago gotten used to walking 5, 10 or more blocks to get to destinations.

We never made it to my aunt's house. After about seven blocks of walking, I figured out that we had passed the house, but my niece kept complaining about being hot and tired. I really wanted my niece to meet my mother's sisters, since she had not before. However, she was not going to walk back, and was eager to find a bus to go back to my stepmom's house.

My mother would have snapped, and demanded that she make the trek back. She would have had to keep up, as well. Ma had no qualms about letting any of the kids know that we were always in her way as it was. "Walk up or the next time, I'll leave your ass at home!" she would bark, followed by our arms being yanked or a shove in our backs. I'm a little more patient, so I gave in to my niece's request to give up the search for the house.

However, the next time my niece comes out to visit me, I'll insist she wear tennis shoes instead of flip flops.

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July 03, 2006

Survey Results #1

Well as promised, here is the first in a series of consecutive Monday posts about the results of the survey launched in February. My dear husband is facing the music in the kitchen while I post this. (Eeeeek, in the blogosphere a deadline is a promise!)

There are 213 completed surveys, upon a first look not all are valid per the criteria and the necessary focus I set forth.

Pre-Qualifier Questions 1-3

1. Do you currently reside in either Canada or the U.S.?

97.7% Yes (208 respondents) / 2.8% No (6 respondents)

Some of you may have been wondering why question #1 was in there. The focus of the Purple WomenTM team blog is only limited to those with access to a computer and a grasp of the English language, however for the book, upon which the survey is based, I needed to focus on a topic and an area that was natural to my own experience, with an eye toward future book sales.

2. Are you a childfree woman (i.e. nobody calls you Mom)?

100.5% Yes / 214 respondents

In question #2, I attempted to exclude women who are step-parents. This decision took some criticism early in the process, right here on this blog. I learned that there are indeed some women who have not had, nor intend to have, children and consider themselves Purple WomenTM, even though they are step-parents by marriage. It is always good to be enlightened (and humble), even if it is in the blogosphere for anyone in the world to read. Blended families and step-parenting is a whole 'nother book and for the folks who do it -- my hat's off to 'em, no matter what their "colors".

3. Are you willing to participate in the is survey anonymously with the understanding that the results of this study will be published?

100% Yes (213) / 0.5% No (1 person)

Re: #3 needs no explanation. Of course, I'll read the responses, but promise not to publish the responses of the person who answered "no".

My thanks to all of you who took the time to take this survey. It is my pleasure to share the results with you.

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Having Kids is Like Shooting Heroin?

Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert’s essay Does Fatherhood Make You Happy? in the June 19, 2006 edition of Time magazine, offers readers some insight into why parents say they are happy, despite the fact that studies that have found that raising kids is about as much fun as doing housework. Gilbert offers up with three reasons why, at the end of the day, parents feel it’s worth it:

1) Children are expensive, so we rationalize the cost with the idea that children make us happy, much like we rationalize that expensive designer handbag.

2) Happiness is amnesic. One sublimely, happy moment can eclipse eight hours of drudgery.

3) Having children is like shooting heroin. Daniel Gilbert walks us through the analogy:

…Although most of us think of heroin as a source of human misery, shooting
heroin doesn't actually make people feel miserable. It makes them feel really, really good--so good, in fact, that it crowds out every other source of pleasure. Family, friends, work, play, food, sex--none can compete with the narcotic experience; hence all fall by the wayside. The analogy to children is all too clear. Even if their company were an unremitting pleasure, the fact that
they require so much company means that other sources of pleasure will all but disappear. Movies, theater, parties, travel--those are just a few of the English nouns that parents of young
children quickly forget how to pronounce. We believe our children are our greatest joy, and we're absolutely right. When you have one joy, it's bound to be the greatest.

This essay was designed to help us celebrate Father’s Day. Gilbert goes on to say that our ability to love through the most difficult times with our children makes us noble and human. That’s a nice sentiment but what about the people who are caring for their aged parents or the person who is nursing an injured or neglected dog back to health?

I wonder if my parents would identify with any of the above? My dad’s a great guy. Every year, I spend a good ten minutes searching for just the right card for him that communicates how much he means to me. I just never thought to send a card that reads:
Thanks for rationalizing, Dad!!!

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July 01, 2006


Every month, I participate in a blog exchange with a dozen or so other women, most of whom are mothers. Every month we choose a topic and each write on what that topic means to us : this month it was, fittingly, freedom.

I wrote about my love of having freedom to live my life the way I want. In reading all the other entries, I found most of them writing about what very little freedom they do have because of their kids. A couple of ladies wrote about missing going to the bathroom by themselves. A couple wrote about not being able to go to the movies or out to dinner. Many wrote about not have the freedom to even sleep.

While each of them was sure to add how worth it it was to them, I simply can't imagine. This is a major reason why I choose to NOT have children.


Losing that freedom is so NOT worth it to me. Is that selfish? Maybe a little. But, ya know what? I can decide to go to the movies 10 minutes before it starts. I can eat at whatever restaurant I feel like. I can even go to the bathroom and shut the door if I want.

And, sorry, but it just can't get any better than that.

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