August 31, 2007

Jane is Purple!

I went to the movies with a lady friend this week. It was spontaneous and fun. Of course, we saw a "chick flick", one I could never drag my husband to. And, who knew? Not only is Jane Austen a childfree woman, she remained single all her life. Look what she was able to create!

Purple WomenTM who did not skip English Lit class in high school will already know this. Now I might have to give her a read.

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Blessings from the Blogosphere

Okay, that title is a little silly, and by some, what we write about here is regarded the same, but for others it really resonates and reflects their experience. WordWench, a Purple Woman, put this gift today on a post I published on April 2, 2007:

Married Childfree Catholic

"Thank you so much for this blog! I can't believe I have found it.

I am 39 years old, Catholic and single. I am also a woman who since the age of 18 has known that I did not want children. This is simply because I have never desired to have them and also because I know I am not parent material. I do not have the patience to go through all of the daily things that raising children involves. And I simply have never desired to be a mother.

This in no way means I am not a caring person...I feel I can show my nurturing and caring side through the extensive volunteer work I do with the blind and at a local food bank, and the care I give to animals. I also live with my elderly father and help him out (I am an only child, mother deceased.)

As a Catholic who has remained single (just haven't found right man) I find myself feeling increasingly alienated in my local church and also in the church at large because of this overwhelming idea that only those who procreate are 'in the right'.
I value so much the woman's comment about free will. If God had meant me to be a mother, wouldn't He have given me that natural desire? Instead, God I feel gave me the discernment from an early age to know what I was NOT meant to do as well as what I was meant to do. I feel it would be TRULY selfish of me to marry and have children just because I felt it was what I was supposed to do, rather than what I truly desired.

I am so glad there are others out there voicing this because I really feel lately like there is no place for me in my Church. Thank you."
August 30, 2007 11:31
You're welcome! Please visit the blogs of other Purple WomenTM as listed in the Childfree Love links in the sidebar.

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August 29, 2007

Change is in the Air

I look at the calendar and I know that autumn begins officially on September 22. Maybe it's because I live in California, where we supposedly "don't have seasons", but the start of school always gives me pause. I'd rather have a more noticeable change in season by measuring the percent color on the trees.

Kids went back to public school this week. I knew it was coming because my Sunday newspaper got thicker about the end of July with all the back to school ads. An entire economy markets to this and the community rallies, except for me. Purple WomenTM are invisible this time of year. It's a little known fact.

What are the true seasons of my childfree life? Will I mark them with my first gray hair as I marked turning 40 by "going short"? The passing of a loved one? Buying a home and choosing a community to finally settle down in? Starting a business?

Ever since I was a child I have always asked myself, "what difference will I make?" That question holds more weight for me, and it is how I will mark my seasons, indeed my very existence. It will not be measured by the pitter-patter of someone else's feet. I will walk there on my own. Well, maybe I'll be riding a horse, or paddling my kayak!

Flickr photo by sacrifice_87, cc
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August 21, 2007

What do we regret?

Most people imagine that I will eventually regret my decision to remain childless. They think of me as childless, not childfree. But what, if anything, will I regret when I get older? This new survey suggests some of the possiblities.

The London Daily Mail reported that a survey commissioned by the U.K based Bradford & Bingley bank revealed that 22 percent of married women aged 35-44 regret their choice of husband. The survey also found that one in twelve of the women surveyed wished they had never married at all.

It is interesting that significantly more women than men wish they had married someone else. However this wasn’t even close to being the top regret revealed by this survey of 1,250 British women.

What were the most common regrets?

Travel: 53 percent of those surveyed wished they had traveled more before settling down.

Money: 37 percent wished they had saved more.

That rings true to me. I have never wished for another husband, never wished for a child. But I do hope to save more so we can travel more often.

Close to one in four British women wish they had chosen someone else to marry. But that is a minority; 56 percent of the married women surveyed said they were "very happy" with their marriage.

Only one in five wanted another kid.

Flickr Photo by shapeshift

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August 20, 2007

Purple What?

I drive around town in a little black Toyota Celica. I was so excited to be moving back to my home country and state of California, I celebrated by ordering my first ever custom plates last fall. Apparently, someone already had PRPL WMN, so I had to settle for PPL WMN. Now, that could stand for People Woman, instead of Purple WomenTM. It's not a bad connotation, but I am pretty happy with what I got, and even if I am the only one who knows what it really stands for!

Unless of course, I am asked by someone directly. I had a reason to stop by a new acquaintance's house on Sunday. He was showing me around when his wife came home from the store. I would describe them as one and a half generations ahead of me, true blue baby boomers with all the trappings, probably three kids would be my guess -- as a purple woman, of course, I didn't inquire. His wife noticed my license plate and asked me about what it meant, so I told her about the blog that I've been running for two years. I said it was about women who are childfree. She made a joke and in a plaintive wail said, "You mean what do you do when the children are gone?" Um, no. That's not exactly what we are doing here.

Her husband came to my rescue; I think I had given him my Purple WomenTM business card when we were first introduced, and he has probably paid us a visit in the blogosphere. He said, "You know two of our daughters are childfree."

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August 16, 2007


A quote by Helen Mirren posted by Childfree New England..

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August 14, 2007

A Woman's Worth

I received my US social security notice today. It tells me what I have paid into the fund and what I can expect to get when I retire. In this climate of fiscal insecurity, with a president who lives by the spend now, pay later credo, I expect to receive nothing from the amount I’ve contributed. My cynicism will be rewarded, I’m sure. You get what you expect.

The fact is I came to this country as an immigrant. I couldn’t work for the first two years as I waited for my green card application to go through, so I volunteered my time working with at-risk youth. My husband was transferred to the United States on a temporary working visa, sponsored by the company that hired him. If he got fired, we would have been sent back.

When I finally got the green card, I started working part-time for a company as a consultant, working for $30.00 an hour, coaching employees of big companies how to be more productive. On the side, I wrote and edited for others. I loved the writing and editing jobs. Problem was they never payed much. So when I retire, my prospects for public assistance are few and grim.

At 45 years old, my pole-dancing days are over, much as I aspire to it on a given night. My prospects for future sustainable income are enhanced by the fact that I used to be employee of the month at Wendy’s, I can turn a phrase, and I have a good work ethic. A thin resumé, at best.

I take solace in the fact that I gave a heroin addict two bucks on Wakiki Beach because he told a good story, sang a funny song, and had a parrot on his shoulder. I need to work on my act a bit, but I figure I could do as well if need be.

Luckily, my husband’s pension is better than mine. He’s been the breadwinner, and he assures me that there’s money there when he eventually gets around to giving notice. But I’m not ready to give notice.

What is a woman’s worth?

What you make of it, I say.

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August 06, 2007

How I Became a Purple Woman

Guest Post by LynnS

As a child, I vividly recall one Christmas in particular - for weeks beforehand, all I wanted was a Glow Worm, nothing else. (If you're a child of the 80s, you might remember!). My relatives seemed slightly puzzled by my choice. They kept asking me why I didn't want a Cabbage Patch doll or Tiny Tears, and they kept insisting I'd change my mind. I stood firm, though - I told them that I wasn't interested in "some stupid, boring doll", even though it seemed practically every girl I knew wanted one.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when I woke up on Christmas morning and found a Tiny Tears doll and no sign of a Glow Worm anywhere. Strangely, though, I wasn't surprised I'd been given a doll. I knew I was expected to play with it and at least give the appearance of loving it. You hardly need to be a psychologist to see the pattern emerging. . .

Other incidents come to mind: when my cousin gave birth to her first child, I congratulated her on the card and not her husband. My mother told me I'd forgotten to put her husband's name down and I told her I didn't. Why should I? She'd done all the hard work, not him. My mother was scandalized, of course, and insisted I add his name but I knew I was right.

I also remember when I was about twelve and letters were sent home from school about the Rubella vaccine. I asked why we needed it and when my mother explained why, I crossed my arms and earnestly pointed out that I didn't need it because I wasn't ever going to have children. (Of course, I had to have it anyway. . .)

In retrospect, it's glaringly obvious that I was what you might call an "early articulator"!
Tellingly, every time I tried to express my feelings, I was pressured, patronized and occasionally treated like I ate babies for breakfast. Unfortunately, some things are slow to change. . .

As I progressed through adolescence, I was bombarded by messages from the media and society in general that motherhood was the greatest experience a woman could have. A childless woman was ( for me anyway) rarer than a unicorn sighting. (I'd never even heard the term "childfree").

The few childfree women I knew were objects of pity and scorn, if not downright viciousness - even though they all seemed far happier than almost all the mothers I knew. From quite a young age, I sensed that the derision these women faced was prompted by jealousy yet nobody was willing to admit it.

I was old enough by then to recognize the financial and emotional strain parenting put on a person. My own mother often seemed stressed out, depressed, frustrated and resentful. I was puzzled by this: she was the first one to lash out at "career women", as they were then called, yet motherhood didn't seem to make her happy. Odd as this may sound, I was grateful things turned out that way: it forced me to open my eyes and think and decide for myself. It meant I learned to disregard society's expectations, no easy thing in staunchly Catholic Ireland in the 1980s, and understand that no one could live my life for me.

When I was 20, I started reading feminist works by authors such as Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf, Susan Faludi, etc. Inspiring as they were (and still are) there was still something I couldn't pinpoint until years later: even feminist writings seemed to assume that women were or would be mothers. A turning point for me came when I stumbled across a copy of Ellen Peck's The Baby Trap in a used bookstore. This book had a profound and lasting effect on me. I felt relieved, thrilled, vindicated. It confirmed what I'd always known and I was so comforted to know I wasn't alone, that there were people out there who shared my feelings. For years my not wanting children had almost felt like a dirty secret.

I was 23 when my niece was born and even though I could see the appeal of babies and why a woman would want one, I still had not the slightest desire to have one of my own. My youngest sister was born when I was 14 so I have some idea of the level of sacrifice, exhaustion, worry and expense involved.

My 30th birthday was a milestone for me, like it is for many people. It was actually quite depressing because I seemed to be the only one who wasn't a mother - it really brought home how isolated I was, even though I've never regretted my decision. Despite being on the receiving end of a few snide comments of the "just wait till you hit thirty" variety, the older I get, the more certain I am that I've made the right decision for me.

Over the years, I've gotten every bingo going - I'm sure most Purple Women will know what I mean. The one that I get most often is "it's selfish not to have children".

Ahhh, that old classic. Except it cuts no ice with me.

I tell people if they look it up in any dictionary, it'll be defined as being concerned only with one's own welfare with total disregard to others, or something similar. Exactly how does my choosing not to have children affect them? It doesn't really - except that it makes them consider their own choices. If that makes them antsy, all I can say is that they can't have been that secure about their choices in the first place.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that I have wondered what will happen when I get older. Will I look back and regret not having children? I truly believe that I won't. And if I do? I would far rather regret not having children than having children and regretting it.
I never volunteer the information that I'm childfree - not because I'm embarrassed about it, but because I can't be bothered wasting energy explaining and defending my choice.
I make it a point never to ask anyone about their children or if they have any in social settings. It saddens me that in the 21st century society persists in glorifying motherhood, while women who choose not to become mothers are all too often viewed in a negative manner.

There is hope, however. I believe that generations to come will realize that parenting is a choice and not a predetermined, unalterable path. If people really think about whether or not to have children, the happier everyone will be.

Ask any Purple Woman and they'll tell you that not conforming to society's expectations can be difficult sometimes, no matter how happy you are with your decision.

Remember that the path less traveled has its own rewards.

And remember this piece of advice my grandmother gave me which I've never forgotten, and never fails to make me smile:

"If it won't make you laugh, it won't make you cry either!"

[Editor's note: AlphaGirl reviewed The Baby Trap for us last year. If you are interested in picking up a good book in the childfree genre, just click on the book review topic a little lower in the sidebar to see all our reviews. If you click on the link under the title "Feed Your Mind" and purchase your next book via, you will be supporting this site!]

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August 01, 2007

Other People's Children

In childfree circles Other People’s Children, or OPC, is sometimes used to refer to the progeny of parents, often in a negative way. For example: A perfectly good meal can be ruined by OPC.

However, I’m a people watcher. Imagine the fun I would miss if I weren’t surrounded by children in many of the public spaces I frequent.

For example, I was sitting in the Buffalo airport recently watching families load their kids on planes. I was amazed at all the stuff parents have to bring: car seats, stroller, diaper bags, blankies, the treasured stuffed animals, the snacks, and the sippy cups. Getting these kids onboard can be like herding cats onto the arc, so US Airways gives priority boarding to people with children.

Do I resent that parents are invited to load first? Absolutely, not. I want them to get the extra time they need to get seated, strapped in, reassured, and comforted with toys and goodies. Because I have to share a plane with them.

Happy kids are fun to fly with. They laugh, they remind us how wonderfully awesome clouds are, and sometimes they make honest, and hilarious, observations about things adults don’t like to talk about. Like what happens when the toilet flushes—where does it go?

On the other hand, unhappy kids are not fun to fly with.

On the trip to Buffalo, I shared a row with a man and his son. Fifteen minutes into the flight his seat was being kicked by the child seated behind him. He very politely, but sternly, requested “Please, could you stop kicking the seat.” The child stopped but then started up again about five minutes later. Again the man asked, quite a bit louder this time,“Would you stop kicking the seat, please? “ I was surprised that the parent accompanying the child behind us didn’t disapline her child, but the child did stop kicking.

I thought, “Wow, it worked.” Later, he offered a snack to the child behind us, the former offender. Very charitable, I thought. Then he started talking to the woman seated behind me. Clearly they were married. The kid who was kicking the seat was his son.

Hmmmm. Could it be that parents are just as annoyed by their kid’s behavior as non-parents are? I watched this man clean up after in-flight snacks. The cups was emptied and dryed with the napkin. The slightly damp napkin was used to sweep up stray pretzel crumbs off the trays. I began to suspect this man liked his surroundings to be kept neat and tidy. Yet with two young boys, I doubted they were.

Childfree people have an enviable automomy. We lead relatively self-directed lives. We don’t have to worry how a child’s behavior might reflect on us, or how we will manage to clean up the messes, or get two kids and all their stuff cross country. We can avoid OPC if we want to. Parents don’t have that luxury.

Yet, this guy appeared pretty happy with his lot. We chatted. I found out he was on vacation with his family, flying to Western New York. He was headed for Cooperstown, NY, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, to attend a softball tournament and cheer on his son’s team. Every father’s dream…

So I was left thinking, “These are the joys of parenthood. This is what makes up for the all the hardships, worries, kicked seats.” Perhaps that is why the childfree occasionally complain about other people’s children. We get the inconveniences but without the benefits.

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Purple Down Under

Guest Post by Helen
Childfree Australian
(Australian spelling!)

In Australia, we’re heading into an election campaign, so an important issue that affects all women is starting to get some attention. I’m not talking about the environment or the economy. The issue is paid maternity leave.
Australia is one of the few OECD members that does not have a paid maternity leave scheme – instead we have the baby bonus, that ‘removes discrimination against non-working mothers'. A recent survey found that 76% supported paid maternity leave for working women, with 78% of those in support of paid maternity leave in favour of the financial responsibility being shared jointly by employers, workers and the Federal Government. 71% supported a scheme funded by employers and employees only. This would be on top of the already generous package of assistance offered to new parents who are entitled to up to 12 months of leave (which many employers contribute to), a 30% childcare rebate and flexible working arrangements. A state politician is even calling for parents to get extra votes so the rights of children will be explicitly recognised in our society!

Paid maternity leave wouldn’t cost much in comparison to the existing benefits for families. But that’s just the nominal cost, which would cover the salary of pregnant women for up to 6 months after the birth of their child.
A far greater cost may be paid by those who won’t benefit from these arrangements: women who are not planning to have children.
The assumption that everyone wants children exists in law. The Sex Discrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against ‘women of child-bearing age’ on the grounds of pregnancy or potential pregnancy. However there are still indications that this happens on a regular basis.

Small and medium businesses say that they cannot afford to pay employees who are not working, as well as paying for temporary staff to cover for them. Business organisations argue that employers won't recruit women if they know at some stage they'll be required to pay thousands of dollars in benefits and staff replacement costs.

I’ve got to say that as a Purple Woman I find this pretty insulting. I don’t want to be judged according to my potential to breed but according to my potential to contribute to the world. Just like men are judged.

Flickr photo by chrisjohnbeckett (cc)

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