If you’re not a mom, then what are you?
I was so excited to discover Karen Malone Wright’s website at The Not Mom. Just after publishing the short rant here about finding a plethora of freelance writing jobs for “Mommy Bloggers” but nothing geared toward women who didn’t take that path, The Not Mom was like a breath of fresh air. It isn’t as though I hate kids – or mommies for that matter - but it seemed like there was a segment of society that was being ignored and left out by online advertisers and marketers. Much like Karen, I couldn’t find my own voice. So I just started talking.
I’m 37. I knew by the time I was 21 that motherhood was not for me. My husband and I have been together for over 17 years and the decision was mutual. I simply don’t feel any sort of maternal instincts and decided it was better for me, and for society as a whole, if I remained child free. But it is amazing how you get treated in our world when you’re old enough to have children but don’t have any.
“You guys would be great parents!”
“Just wait until you have kids!”
“You’ll see. You’ll be ready one day!”
These statements are as inappropriate as walking up to a pregnant stranger and touching her stomach. That strangers feel the need to make these types of judgments when they don’t have all of the facts is appalling. In our case, not having children was a choice – but what about the people who didn’t choose? Do you think they like to hear these statements over and over again? I was brought up to believe that if I didn’t know what I was talking about to keep quiet. I find that intrusive and statements like these only cause undue stress on the recipient. What benefit can it even provide the person asking?
In my early thirties, just after moving to Georgia, I made an appointment with an OBGYN. I just picked a doctor who was near my house and set up an appointment. When I arrived I was greeted by an older southern gentleman. I’m not one of those women who cares either way whether my Gynecologist is male or female, so I didn’t really think anything of it. As I sat on the table wrapped in a napkin waiting for the exam to begin he looked over my chart and said to me with his southern drawl, “So, why has a pretty young woman like you never been pregnant?”
I was taken aback. Why would someone ask this question? Even if he was my doctor, why would that be any of his business? If he wanted to find out if I had been trying unsuccessfully to have kids there were a dozen different ways he could have obtained that information. Asking me why I’d never been pregnant before seemed not just intrusive but insulting.
I never went back to that doctor.
Shortly after that experience I discovered the Child Free by Choice movement. I thought these might be my people. But when I attended a social meet up I found that I had as little in common with them as I did with people who had kids. It was an awkwardly forced social situation and I just wanted to leave.
There are many reasons for women not becoming mothers. Sometimes it is circumstance. Sometimes it is choice. Regardless of the reason, their experiences should never be invalidated. The prevalence of mommy-centered websites, and subsequently, mommy-centered advertising, is like being told “Your choices are incorrect” or “You're really missing out.” There is a demographic, an aging demographic, of women looking for a place to talk about themselves and their experiences of interacting with a world geared primarily toward families.
As women without children it is our responsibility to create that place. What does it look like? What kinds of things do we discuss or showcase? What do women without children want to read about?
If I’m not a mom, what am I? Those things are countless. I am a tiny house builder. I am a brewer and beer lover. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt. I am an adventurer. I am a writer. I am a seeker.