It’s been almost a year since The NotMom.com launched on Tumblr as a little blog looking for some resonance among women without children. Well, I found it! With friends like you, and interest from brands that hope to connect with you, The NotMom has truly enjoyed its initial run.
Today I’m introducing an expanded, redesigned format on the WordPress platform. I hope you’ll join the community there. There will be no new posts to the Tumblr site after today.
Please remember to CHANGE YOUR BOOKMARKS to http://www.thenotmom.com.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments and support.
A new study that shows “having kids may not make us miserable after all” is generating headlines in USA Today and elsewhere.
Produced by a German institute, the report states:
“We find no evidence that parental well-being decreases after a child is born to levels preceding the children, but we find strong evidence that well-being is elevated when people are planning and waiting for the child, and in the year when the child is born.”
As I understand it, slightly older parents are more prepared and deliberate about the decision to have a child and they’re happier as a result. One smart researcher warned that the results were not intended to encourage women to significantly wait to “deliver a first baby.”
It seems the belief was that childless people are just hap-hap-happy at levels no mere parent might imagine. Wrong Assumption #45,789. Nothing short of heaven is perfect every day: not adorable kids in the school play nor 40-somethings on vacation. Happiness comes to us all if we let it.
P.S. By the birth of the 3rd child, the study says there’s no uptick in happiness at all.
NotMoms, can I tell you how proud I am of YOU?! You are finding your voice and shouting out loud. Good for you.
I am deep, deep DEEP in research and stats about childless women these days. That’s the fun part of working on my business plan. It is the only fun part, but it’s a goodie. I believe there’s a future for The NotMom. It’s accounting I don’t like.
I’ve said that one reason I launched this site was because when I was deeply afflicted with the ”holy shyt, I’m really not gonna have a kid” blues, the Net was new and there was precious little for women with children. What I could find was about infertility. That was a word for my 30s. At 48 I was just old, and so were my eggs.
Back to the business plan.
It’s still an effort to find women like me online, but options do exist. Childless-by-choice is really carving out a presence known online, carving out its own stream of blogs and websites. The Childfree Life is a good discussion forum, and it’s open to men, too. SavvyAuntie is for “aunts, great aunts and godmothers”, with helpful info about the nieces and nephews. Great idea, great site, and I really want a hook-up with its founder, Melanie Notkin.
I’ve even found a site that shares The NotMom.com’s vision to serve ALL childless women, not just the ones who chose to be child free, or experienced a certain problem. ChildlessMothersConnect “celebrates the mother that lies within the heart of every woman.” Its founder also assists childless couples with adoption at a related website and 501(c)3 nonprofit.
My mentors tell me I should not be as calm as I am to see all this competition. That’s because I’m the NotMom, not them.
I am happy as heck these sites are out there. Giddy, even.
But, I’m not crazy, either. Every one of them is top quality and worth your time. But, look how different they are from each other and from this site. Men? Kid stuff? Not on this site. That’s not how The NotMom rolls. No worries. It’s a joy to know that we’re all rolling together.
NY Times writer Abby Ellin shared an insightful piece recently about the power of ritual. Her story examined the growing occurrence of “divorce ceremonies,” which are just what you think they are. Lots of hugs, nature, vows and perhaps, even a ring. The events are sometimes lavish and always public. The women commit themselves to their re-found single life with the same level of pomp that they used to commit to their ex-spouses.
I totally get it.
Several years ago I participated in a pregnancy loss retreat that was developed along similar lines of thinking. Only in this case, the more apt comparison isn’t a wedding, but a funeral. It was definitely an occasion for mourners to say ‘goodbye’ and hopefully, gain a bit of closure.
Ten women —strangers until that day— spent an entire Saturday sharing their stories and pain. Most were like me, childless by chance or happenstance. One was a 40-something mother still devastated by an abortion she’d had years before. One, I think, had delivered a stillborn baby, the result of her only pregnancy.
From the start it was clear that we were each among the walking wounded. We looked just fine on the outside. On the inside? Better not to look.
The retreat’s most powerful session for me featured solitary walks through an outdoor labyrinth. As each woman began to walk, a gong rang one time as she spoke the name of her unborn child. (Not one woman had to think hard about it: every one of us knew exactly what we would have named our child.) And, although labyrinths look easy, after a few twists and turns, the only easy thing is understanding how the path serves as a form of meditation.
At the center of the maze, each NotMom put a farewell gift to that unborn child on the grass. (I left stuffed Mickey Mouse and Pooh dolls I’d bought in Disneyland in 1982 and carefully tucked away in a trunk for the baby “destined” to come within a few years.) Then, we each walked out of the labyrinth empty-handed.
As amazing as that day was, I’ve been unable to convince the facilitator to repeat it. She received healing from the experience, too, but she doesn’t look forward to repeated performances. Of course, there was nothing we did that day that was unique at all, and yet the 10 of us agreed that we went home lighter, brighter, and ready to start the rest of our lives without the old, heavy baggage.
At the time, I thought the power of the day was communion with other NotMoms. Now, I believe peace came from the ritual itself. At last, a public honoring of something that was so important to me, and yet basically hidden from public sight.
Rituals aren’t limited to what The Powers That Be say they are. What’s tucked away in your heart that needs to be honored? Celebrate or say goodbye formally, with intention and design.
Mother’s Day is just over 2 weeks away. In addition to the traditional meanings and activities that day, it’s also the first step of this site’s migration to a WordPress platform. The NotMom.com will stretch out into more of the space that “.com” provides, adding conversation and expanded info, including NotMom stats, and lifestyles.
I want to make it clear: No thoughts here of disrespecting the day that we remember the woman who gave us life. I’m glad there is a Mother’s Day. Truly.
However, reading comments to this blog and others for childfree and ‘by chance’ women, and by talking to women I know without kids, it seems clear that this holiday has hidden speed bumps. My childfree friends are sort of peeved to be confronted with ubiquitous pinks and cheery unearned good wishes. Women who once dreamed of their own Mother’s Day breakfast in bed had responses that ranged from sad to bitchy when asked a simple question:
“As a woman without children, what impact does Mother’s Day have on you, if any?”
Some women said they prefer to stay at home on Mother’s Day to avoid being given a free flower or other business “gifts” to women customers. Either they quietly accept the rose or whatever, or they refuse it, saying “I’m not a mother.” Consensus feedback is that gift givers generally push it more firmly in your direction saying “Take one anyway” adopting a tone bordering on sympathy. No childfree woman ever wants that kind of sympathy, and few By Chance women can bear it.
What about you, Dear Reader? Does Mother’s Day affect you positively, negatively, or not at all? Do you spend so much time with your own mother that you really don’t think about the more personal side of the day? Or do you go to the movies and lose yourself in a good comedy?
Your response will be a part of The NotMom.com’s inaugural expanded, redesigned format on Sunday, May 13th. Simply leave your comment by Tuesday, May 8th. Or, tweet me at @TheNotMom or drop a line on Facebook.
Everybody knows I love comedian Kathy Griffin, who happens to be a NotMom, too. During the premiere of her new BRAVO talk show this week, she dished on celebs and REal Housewives as usual. There was only one taped piece, her introductory sessions with her new production staff. Each was confronted with bizarre questions and tasks like shaving her armpits. One poor dude had to imagine removing his new boss’ tampon for her.
You were warned. Bizarre.
The skit got me to thinking that it wasn’t that long ago that I thought the “Have a happy period” campaign by Always sanitary pads pushed TV’s limits. Tampax Pearl promotes itself as a surefire way to outsmart Mother Nature and keep trucking straight through That Time of the Month.
Of course, the terms “va-jay-jay” and “vagina” are so casually (and inaccurately) used on the most unassuming broadcasts these days that it seems strangely logical to talk more openly about basic body functions.
The problem is that ad agencies create 30-second spots as though only women of menstruating age will watch them, all alone. To be in the room with a young child when a ‘plain-speaking’ commercial airs is an obvious challenge I wouldn’t wish on anybody. The uncomfortable moments we don’t talk about happen when it’s an adult, not a kid, who makes you grab for the remote to change the channel. The guy I’m talking about has a sense of humor only slightly above giggling at the sight of underpants.
You don’t know anyone like him? He exists. Sad to say, he might even work for the Secret Service.
Personally, I’d be happier if there were as many condom commercials across the channels as there are happy periods.