Monday, January 27, 2020

My Most Popular Interview EVER Is About Something I'm Not: A Mom

I did a lot of interviews back in my heyday, to the point that I eventually turned down more than I accepted. After a year or two I figured I'd already covered everything there was to know about Cake Wrecks and my unexpected rise to fame, so why keep beating the dead horse cake?

The exceptions were the interviews with a twist: the ones that wanted to talk about something else, something that interested me just because the topic was so different. And of all those interviews, the only one that lives on - the only one I *still* get comments about from readers a whopping 7 years later - is my interview with Laura LaVoie for the site The NotMom.

At some point the NotMom site archived/deleted Laura's interview, though, so when a reader messaged me this month asking for it, I had John track it down on the Way Back machine.

I think this issue is still relevant for a lot of us, so I'm going to re-post the entire article here for posterity. (It's not very long.) I hope it sparks even more conversations and maybe brings a little peace to anyone who's ever struggled with not being a parent.

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Looking for Women Without Children Online? Meet Jen Yates.



 

Childless and childfree women come in lots of shapes and sizes. We are all colors, all cultures, and all ages. As much as we have in common, we are also very different. Some people say it is strange to define ourselves by things that we are not, so let’s determine what we are instead.


Childfree blogger Laura LaVoie interviews women bloggers without children who answer the question, “If you’re not a mom, then what are you?” 

At the third of this series, Laura says: 
 
I proudly admit to being a geeky fan-girl. I spend time watching science fiction television and super-hero movies and reading blogs on similar topics. I know what “steampunk” is. I attend conventions like Dragon*Con and dress up in costumes. I would do it more if I could. So, I was very excited when I had the opportunity to talk with Jen Yates (above) oCake Wrecks and her geek blog, EPBOT. I admire Jen for her geek creds and her ability to take something she loved and create a career around it. She is also a NotMom.
 
 
Tell us about yourself and your blog.
 
My name’s Jen, and I’m mostly known online for my first blog, Cake Wrecks. I also write Epbot, a blog where I get to talk about my passions for all things geeky, DIY, steampunk, Disney, and so on.

Why did you start blogging?

I started Epbot because I needed an outlet where I could just be me, and where I could share the things I’m passionate about without worrying so much about trying to make people laugh. I also wanted to meet and interact with fellow geeks, since we don’t have too many geeky friends IRL [in real life]. It’s wonderful having an online community that really understands and appreciates the same things you do, and it’s incredibly validating to have people you respect see and enjoy things you’ve written or created.

Tell us a bit about your life situation.

I’ve been married to my husband John for 14 years now, and we’ve worked together since our first wedding anniversary. We started out as specialty painters, where I worked for John, and when Cake Wrecks took off we became bloggers, where John works for ME. (Muah-ha-haa!) We have two cats: Lily (mine) and Tonks (his). I’ve never wanted children – even as a kid myself, I never so much as played house – but John did, initially. I talked him out of it before we were married, and these days he thanks me for that at least once a week. Ha!


How do you feel you are treated as a childfree woman?

That changes drastically according to the social setting. When John and I were regular church goers, it was definitely more of a noticeable and commented-on issue. The church we were in at one time had lots of huge families, and it seemed every mom in there was patting me on the shoulder and assuring me that someday I’d change my mind about not wanting kids – which was mildly infuriating.

Then again, I think all moms tended to treat me that way when I was younger. Now that I’m in my 30s, I find people are generally more respectful, perhaps because they don’t see me as the wide-eyed twenty-something who doesn’t know her own mind.

Because John and I don’t socialize with any large groups that have kids these days, we tend to avoid that kind of pressure now. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a little hard watching almost all of our couple friends have kids, though. We happily paint their nurseries, throw them baby showers, and even read their kids a story from time to time – but with most of them, we fall out of touch within a year. Kids are a huge, life-changing event, and that’s an event we just can’t relate to. Not to mention we like to make spontaneous dinner plans, which kids aren’t exactly conducive to.

We’ve been fortunate enough to find a few friends around our age who are also child-free by choice – and geeks to boot! – plus a few parents who are able to socialize and relate on a non-kid level, which is awesome. Combined with all my friendships online through Epbot, I feel like I have the richest social life now that I’ve ever had.

What defines you and your life? 

I believe my actions, my words, and my creations define me. The changes I make in the lives around me, and the people I affect – hopefully for the better. I want to be a positive example online for fellow girls and fellow geeks, and I want to make and write beautiful things that make people smile. If I can do all of those things, then THAT will be what defines me.

What message do you want to send to advertisers and readers about being a childfree woman today? 

To advertisers, I would say to not make the mistake of ignoring or discounting childfree women and couples these days, because we’re on the rise.

And to readers, I think I’d say there’s no shame in not wanting kids, so don’t be afraid to question the roles society wants to put you in. Children should never be a foregone conclusion; they should be a deliberate choice. And to readers who are already parents, please remember that not everyone wants the same things you do, so don’t assume a child-free couple is any less fulfilled or happy or selfless than you are. We all have different goals and strengths in this life, and for some of us, parenting just isn’t it!


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Any of you have more thoughts on this? Do you think it's easier now than it was 7 years ago to be childfree? (It seems a lot easier to me, but I assume that's because I'm older and have surrounded myself with more like-minded folks.)

Also, for you parents out there: do you have many non-parent friends? Any tips for making those kinds of relationships work better?

46 comments:

  1. As another couple who have chosen to not have children, I agree that it's easier now. But as you have noted, it may be because we're not in our early twenties anymore. I had one coworker once, who looked at me like I had told her to kill her own children, when I said that I didn't want kids. And then got the same old response of "oh, you just wait!"... And I always wanted to say "wait for what? For the stork to come deliver a baby at our door?". I also feel that it's easier for men than women to say that you don't want kids. People have reacted to my husband more in the matter of him being a responsible man, while people have reacted to me as having failed womanhood. In addition, some have actually thought that my husband made the decision for us to not have children, and not something we both agree on. We still have some ways to go before we have equality...

    I also think it helps with a change of generations. One thing that has pissed me off more than once, is parents asking "when are you going to give me grandchildren?" or when other people ask "so, aren't you going to have kids soon?". It's rude and insensitive to pry like that. And it must hurt alot if someone asks someone who has been trying to have kids that, or who are unable to. Why can't people understand that it's a private matter?

    But the topic rarely comes up anymore, either at work or with friends. And when it does, people are generally respectful about it now. We have both friends that have kids and friends that don't. I think one of the tricks to stay in touch, is to just hang out with them with their kids from time to time. Then I find that it's easier to schedule time to hang out without the kids later, because we don't grow apart. And maybe it's also easier for me as an introvert, since I prefer scheduled (and some times far apart) playdates with friends ;).

    Ok, I think I'm done venting now :P. Hope you are having a wonderful Monday! <3

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  2. I finally managed to reach the age where people don't keep asking me about having kids, thank goodness. My current boyfriend and I are on the same page as well, and fortunately we have a lot of friends with the same feelings or friends with older kids who are willing to socialize outside their kids' playgroups too. I hate how women just tend to get written off, if you're not a mom you just don't exist. I'm a substantial and growing demographic, dangit!

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  3. I'm a parent, and I do have plenty of friends who are not parents. I've always been willing to leave my kids with a sitter for a few hours so I can do grownup things, I often got together with friends in situations where the kids weren't a problem, and eventually, they got to an age where they didn't need sitters, or were off doing their own things. I really think the only trick is focusing on the relationship - just like any other friendship. It's incredibly important to respect others' choices in general, and anybody who can't respect others' choices isn't someone I want to be around. Having children was the right choice for me, but it's arrogant to assume that anyone else should automatically make the same choice, or that my choice somehow makes me superior. Likewise, I have no patience for child-free folks who act like they are somehow superior because they don't have kids. Sometimes I fantasize about what I'd do with all the money I spent on raising kids....

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  4. Thank you for sharing this here. I enjoyed reading it on NotMom, and was glad to revisit it today as part of another childfree and loving it couple.

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  5. As a parent, it's actually easier in most ways for me to be friends with non-parents. Most of my internet friends are also moms because I met them in groups for moms, and we have that major thing in common, and I do have lots of mom-friends IRL from playgroups and church and things like that.

    But, when it comes to actually socializing and having friends that I have things in common with outside of parenthood, it's easier with non-parents. Mostly just because the planning difficulties are cut in half when you aren't trying to work around the schedules of TWO sets of friends. For example my husband and I host a board game night at our house every week. It works our best for us to have it at 8pm, after we put our 4 kids to bed. So, naturally, all of our parent friends are't able to make it because they are also are at home putting their kids to bed. We've been doing it for over 6 years now and it has consistently been our childless friends (who are typically younger and single) who come, but as they get married and usually have kids they move on, or get too busy. As a group we are all getting older and the child-free are much fewer, I'm afraid we are going to have to end our weekly group at some point because we will run out of childless friends. Move it to a monthly weekend afternoon when kids are welcome and able to come.

    We also make a big effort to hold onto our hobbies outside of our kids, where we also tend to spend more time with child-less friends. Book club, volleyball, basketball, etc. When you are just meeting up with friends for dinner or drinks, the conversation tends to start "so what have you been up to?" and the answer is "kids. Always kids. I'm a stay at home mom and have nothing else to talk about." So planning things, like actual activities (what I mentioned above, or bowling, escape rooms, etc.) I feel like keep us from falling into the "she only talks about her kids" hole that can strain relationships.

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  6. I chose not to have children when I was with my ex-husband and that was the best choice I ever could have made. I now have 1 toddler with my current husband and she's the best thing since sliced bread! It is harder to get together with certain friends but that's mostly a scheduling thing. We have a lot of friends both with and without kids (or with older kids) and it's all good whenever we get together with any of them. I have to say - having friends who are real friends makes it easier. We know some of our friends without kids are by choice, by a combo of choice/timing, and some who are trying but don't have kids yet. So we just roll with it. We tend to host and go to a combination of family friendly and just adult things, we let our 2 1/2 year old go off and make friends with our friends kids who are 5, 7, 11 and the like. And they all get along well and have fun together. We're probably 1 and done and our friends who have an 11-year old were 1 and done as well and when the kids get together, the 11-year old gets the "rent a sibling" experience and everyone's good. It's also hard for parents of 1 kid to avoid the "when are you having the next" question which I find more infuriating than the "what do you mean you don't want kids" questions. But that's just me. I work full time as does husbot, we have a house, cars, etc that we like to be able to afford, along with food and clothing, and we want to be able to provide EXPERIENCES for our daughter - having another would delay that and/or make certain things impossible. And we don't want her to have to grow up any faster than she's ready. So she'll be the "big cousin" instead of "big sister".

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  7. It's mostly gotten easier for us because I think I'm old enough that I'm past the "ideal" window for having them. So it's clear I was serious when I said no. That being said it does still rear its head sometimes. I think the most frustrating/hurtful was when I caught wind of my father in law making an offhanded comment that maybe hanging out with my husband's cousin and her new baby would "make me change my mind about kids" as though it were only my decision. It was a mutual decision, and in fact, my husband was the one to first vocalize "You know, I think we are doing well without kids. I don't think they would improve our situation". I'd never been gung ho on it, but I'd been considering it because it was a thing I thought he really wanted. Even when we were talking about it, though, we were going to adopt. Which still got flack from people when we mentioned it, as though adoption was only for those who for sure can't have them other ways.

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  8. I think a lot of the problem comes from people not being able to imagine a world outside their own perspective or experiences. Since I didn't have my daughter until my mid-thirties (we waited for various reasons), I got my share of pressure from family and strangers alike about having kids. Now that I have one child, I've gotten lots of questions about when we're having more. We're not. It just never ends. People can't imagine just having one child, just like they couldn't imagine not having any to begin with.
    As for the advice, it helps to have pretty great friendships beforehand and to catch up when you can. Try to set plans, but know that life gets in the way. Don't make your child the focus of every get together or meet up and be flexible. Since our daughter is young, we can't stay out as late as we used to some nights, but we try to make up for it. If you really want to maintain friendships, you have to put in some effort. It is the same with my other parent friends, we have to put in the time. I have dinner once a week (pending illness or scheduling issues) with my best friend, who also has a son and this definitely helps us get some friend time in. All you can do is extend the invite and hope the schedules can align. Sometimes it will be easier than others and sometimes life gets in the way. You can't take it too personally if plans fall through. If you really like someone's company, it will be worth the wait and effort.

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  9. I'm curious if your perspective in the past 7 years on hanging out with your friends that are parents has changed as your friends' kids have gotten older. It's easier to get together once they're out of the baby/toddler stage and can be more reliably left with a baby sitter or at home by themselves. Have you found it easier to get together with those people? Or did the friendships just fade away completely?

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    1. So glad I read the comments first, because I was going to ask the same thing. I'm friends with some parents, but their kids are all old enough to be left at home for a few hours.

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    2. Sadly most of those friendships I mentioned faded away entirely, since most moved away. (Florida is such a transition state; we're used to folks who move here and away again pretty often.) We do still have friends with kids, but since this is a whole new batch (ha!), the kids are all still pretty young. So yeah, still haven't reached that point with friends where the kids are old enough for them to socialize much!

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  10. Hey Jen, long time follower and current mom and mom to be (due April) and I love hearing the side from non-moms/child-free women. I actually don't love the term "non-moms" cause though I have a handful of friends who are not moms, many of them do a beautiful job being a motherly figure to my kid. I would say in my realm, most of my non-mom friends do desire to still have kids, with 1 or 2 being the exception. But we make relationships work solely in the life stage we are in. My husband and I are blessed with 3 grandparents who almost always love the chance to take care of their grandkids, so we can still pull the occasional spontaneous event off. But we are also much more diligent planners now! Additionally, I think it is equally as important for moms to get out without kids (with or without spouses) from time to time. It makes me a better mom to be away from my daughter for a day or so and I think a quality marriage can get lost in mothering, so my husband and I make time for each other as well. I 100% think that this way of thinking came easier for us as we married later (33 and had kids later--34 & 36) than the average couple today. We both had put our careers ahead for awhile. I also am involved in a large church with many big families feel the pressure and stigma from some that we are choosing to "only" have two and that I have no plans to be a stay at home mom. I agree with the comment above that women are for sure judged more on their reproductive activity than men. I cannot tell you the number of times people find out our second child is a boy (after the first being a girl) that I get a comment like well now you have the set so you can stop. We had always planned for two so girls or boys did not matter to us. But I have had the question of birth control type/form asked of me way more than my husband. And family planning questions, as well as my choice to continue to work, worded in assuming ways rather than questions. (ie: So after this one, you will stay home?--Nope, I make enough to support even more kids in daycare if you believe it!). Sorry for the side-rant! Anyway, I think in my life, I have been taught that all relationships require some work. If I want to see my friends, we both have to make it work. I get that kids, moves, marriage, etc can come and go, but if you value the person you just make it work. In my case, it meant a change in some relationships. As a single girl, I had a best friend who I would see often 3-4 times a week. We lived close and it was easy to stop by after work or have her over for dinner. When I got married and moved, it made life much harder, it did not mean I did not want to see her, it just meant I couldn't see her as often. But when we did plan time together, the relationship was my priority, I was not hanging on my phone or slightly distracted, so our time became more about quality over quantity! I do not want to take all (or even most of the credit here), we both had to commit to it and work at it, but the relationship was of value to both of us so it was worth it! (Also, should add that counseling has been a godsend for me in all relationships, so it is for sure not 100% my intentions but knowing healthy boundaries was important). It has made moving from singleton to married to mother that much easier in figuring out relationships. Do I always get it right? Heck no, but my friends give me grace (and lots of love). So I don't claim to have the secret sauce but that is an insight from the other side. Also, I have the utmost respect for people that do not want to be parents choosing to not. It is a hard line to draw and one that I am sure comes with lots of "peer pressure." (Unlike you, I played house and dolls my whole childhood, and had a thick desire to be a mom early on, but it happened later in life for me--and not without trouble, so I think I appreciate this gift that much more). Many thanks for all you do and your transparency on so many topics!

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    1. AUGH girl I FEEL YOU on the assumption that as a working mom I must long to stay at home with my daughter. HAHAHAHAHAHA NOPE. I think the people making those assumptions never had a high needs/spirited kid. My daughter is much happier when she is outside the house, and so am I! If she wasn't enrolled in daycare we'd spend all our time either at the library, a park, or the science museum. Sounds awesome up until you think about what it would be like to do that EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. For hours on end, no less. Nah, our family is much happier with the current setup.

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  11. For me it's lots easier as I've entered my AARP years :). I still get the "but who's going to take care of you when you're old?" question, as if having a child is a guarantee of elder care. (It's not, but I digress.) What's gotten more difficult is that friends whose kids are grown are finding they now have lots of time they don't know what to do with, and don't understand that just because we did not have children doesn't mean we don't have committments and responsibilities! I'm glad we get to see them more, but sometimes helping them to understand we're not footloose and fancy free and can't just drop everything on a moment's notice (a common fantasy I'm given to understand!) gets tiring. What's also better is that our younger friends with kids are committed to balancing work, family, and friends. They're marvelous parents and their kids are terrific - my outside impression is that this balance is working out well for everyone.

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    1. My answer to "who's going to take care of you when you're old" is "the nurse that I will be able to afford from all the money I saved not having kids!" I also get "where are you going to go for Thanksgiving/Christmas when you're older?" a lot. That one is usually, "someplace warm."

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    2. Yeah I have to admit, this scares me a lot, I see how much I help my dad and wonder who will help me when I need it (since all my friends are the same age as me - and I don't have many good ones because I have trouble making friends)

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  12. Honestly, the hardest part was my mom, who would have loved to be a grandma (I have a brother with developmental disabilities, so all her hopes were pinned on me). She had to kinda take some time to process that she was never gonna have bio-grandkids. But thankfully she's come around and loves our dog as her fur-grandbaby and has "adopted" a few couples in her town to act as surrogate grandma.

    A lot of my friends have kids and it does make getting together harder, but I'm always glad to see them, with or without kiddos. I have been lucky to receive very little pushback from anyone else; I do think being in my late 30s has now stopped those comments by and large.

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  13. I feel like I get discriminated against at work when it comes to being able to do things outside of standard work hours. If they were excluding someone who had to leave to pick up kids they would worry about that but because I have evening commitments that's seen as a choice to opt out of the team fun.
    I've never been told I'll change my mind and never had pressure from family which I'm grateful for.

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  14. We got married and never wanted kids and that was 20 years ago. We moved out to an Ozark farm to live our dream. We raise veggies, chickens, horses, rabbits and ourselves. Here if our farm animals don't work out we can eat them. Can't do that with kids, there are laws :) But we have the time and energy to be a happy work from home couple. We had neighbors who also did not have kids. He died one day age 90 and she had to move into a nursing home for 6 more years of her remaining life. They were able to afford the 5k a month care as they saved up and had a trust. She had many friends who visited her including us.Kids are no guarantee of elder care and we have witnessed that first hand and are making plans. We love our freedom we have to do what we want and not what society wants. It is your life to live as you want. Kids or no kids you can still be a couple of great human beings :)

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    1. If the animal doesnt work out, we can eat them. Omg i just about DIED! Lmao

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  15. I was alllmost 30 when we got married. We tried a few times, only to lose each one early on. We finally decided that we weren't meant to have babies. So we are rock star Aunt and Uncle instead! I will take a daughters face to my grave, but we have no regrets.

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    1. Hey, Sue. I lost a baby a few months ago. God has blessed us with others, but I know what you mean. Each one is a sweet soul and printed on my heart, this side or that of eternity.

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  16. You have no idea how much of an impact this article made on me so many years ago when it was first shared. I was under 30 with a preschool aged kid and had been rude to an old friend a year or two before over her not wanting kids, and talked disparagingly about people who didn't want kids because I thought they were selfish. Your interview opened my eyes and helped me be more understanding and kind to adults who didn't want to have children. I have also worked to be the friend with kids who still had childless friends and hung out with them - we host D&D and other role playing games twice a month and most of the players don't have kids - and we do stuff with them outside game nights too. Two of my close geeky female friends are child-free by choice and that doesn't change our friendship, even as I've had more kids (three girls following their geeky parents' footsteps). Thank you for sharing this again and reminding me there's always ways to improve and be more friendly to our fellow humans - as I give my dragon-loving toddler more banana :) Much love Jen and John! <3

    P.S. I have always defined myself by more than just being a mom - I'm a maker: baker, jewelry maker, painter, writer, crafter... I love my kids but I'm a person without them too! :) Thank you for being an inspiration to geeks of all walks of life!

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    1. Edit: I should add, I am accepting of people wanting to be child-free, I don't think they're selfish anymore :) We all choose our own path, and if you don't want kids that's fine with me!

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    2. Honestly - it is kind of selfish? But I don't see that as a bad thing. Because parenthood is not a thing to be entered into lightly, and why would you want someone to be a parent who is ambivalent about it? And it's not like it's selfless to have kids - you do it because you want to pass your genes/values/traditions etc on, right?

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    3. Thank you Lizzy for sharing your story :). I would say that both having children and not having children is equally selfish/selfless. You (hopefully!) make the choice based on what YOU want. I think we should all try to be understanding, kind and respectful on how we all chose to live our lives, as long as we're not hurting anyone :). We are all just living our own lives in the end, and should not try to live anyone else's or tell anyone how they should do it.

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  17. I never wanted kids really. I never had the almost overwhelming maternal drive that a lot of women seem to have, which is great for them but I couldn't really relate to that. I met the love of my life at 39 and married him at 40. He had four kids and while open to having more kids with me, he understood that I was not going to give him that. Now, 25 years later, I have shared a blended family and that's been just fine. His kids had a mother and didn't need me to be that for them. I meet women who are mothers who are often unsure of what they have in common with me, since so much of their identity is that of mother, but that's ok. I can usually find something we are both interested in other than motherhood. Plus, I know I can always ask about their kids and not be concerned about an awkward silence, lol.
    My parents never pressured any of us (4 kids) to marry or to give them grandchildren. I have two nieces and two nephews I would throw myself in front of a bus for. So maybe that's a little of the maternal coming out in me.

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  18. To answer your second question: My husband and I have been married 4 years and have a 2 1/2 year old daughter. She's quite feisty and had required us to change our lives up a lot. Even with all those changes, I've still maintained friendships with the women in my life who don't have kids/aren't married. The key to that has been flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. My friends understand that I have a lot more restrictions now and are willing to hang out with me & my daughter in places where she is welcomed and comfortable (plus they understand naps and bedtime are sacred!). Think picnics at parks, leisurely hikes (cause toddler pace), hanging out at a kid friendly brewery, meeting up for an early dinner or lunch, going to the local tea shop (my daughter is already a tea snob lol), helping out on one friend's farm, chatting on my couch while my daughter naps. Honestly it's a whole lot of what we did together pre-kid, just adjusted to her needs.

    NotMoms who want to stay friends with Moms - please understand that we can't "just push her bedtime back" and that we really don't feel comfortable at places where kids get major side eyes and snarky comments. The years before age 5 can be really rough and isolating and full of changes that we don't necessarily embrace with open arms. We need you to remind us that we're so much more than just Mom. Oh and if we start babbling on too long about poop - snap us out of it. That's a sign of Mom Myopia. :)

    I'm not sure what advice to give if you're reaching out and being flexible and your mom friends still drift away, except I guess maybe they were just meant to be in your life for a season. Friendship is a two-way street after all. One party can't be making all the effort all the time.

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  19. It always amazes me that we identify women as Moms or Childless-Child Free, but no one identifies men that way. It's accepted that men can do whatever they want--be a dad or not and there's no further discussion/debate/comment, but women are not afforded the same luxury.

    I am an only child and grew up in a big community of extremely large (mostly Irish Catholic) families and frankly, I had my fill of kids by the time I was hitting puberty. Most of my friends were middle of the pack of siblings so I was around kids all of the time. My refuge was my closet lending library and my own bedroom that I only shared with a guinea pig.

    As I went through high school and college, I tended to migrate towards friends who were on the same page as me--kids come much later, if at all. I wanted to travel, get a degree, have a career, be financially independent and if the fates were right--a loving spouse and then....maybe have kids. When I turned 29, (single and in my career) I learned I had significant ovary damage due to cysts and my "someday maybe" plan became "good luck with that" plan. I was disheartened and disappointed--not because I couldn't have kids, but because the choice was no longer mine. I didn't feel broken or damaged goods or somehow less than because I wasn't going to be a Fertile Myrtle, but I was pissed that that I no longer had a say in that choice.

    When I met my husband at 37, he already had three kids and our relationship bloomed. I was the nice lady who hung out with Dad and made great dinners and suggested fun things to do. My hubby and I took the long view approach and didn't force our relationship on the kids and let it happen organically. We've been together just over 20 years and I have a fantastic relationship with his adult kids and their spouses. I didn't try to replace their mom, my goal was support my husband's relationships with his kids so that our relationship could be strong.

    Now that I'm on the dark side of 57, and have already lost my own parents, I will admit there are days when I wonder "what if" had I had a child of my own. They say you can't miss what you never had, which to a point is true, but I do sometimes feel like I'm missing out on that adult friendship I see friends having with their adult children. Or that joy they have when grandbabies happen. I will never be first in their lives because my step kids have parents an in-laws that come first. I'm ok with that--but I suppose the wistfulness is just a bit of aging. But overall, I'm 99% totally ok with not having my own kids. (My Mom was the only one who ever commented on my childless existence and I would just shoot back at her that she should have had more kids--instead of pinning all her hopes on me.)

    I'm a live and let live kind of person--if you're desiring children, be a parent. If you're not, then don't have them. There's billions of humans on this planet. My not adding to that number is ok.

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  20. From a very early (pre-school) I declared I was never having babies. My brother was three years younger and had a myriad of health problems. At the time all I saw was a wailing, smelly, fun-squashing interloper who made us have to get rid of the dog -who was there first, I might add - because it didn't like him. I thought the dog was on to something. In retrospect I feel for my poor mother trying to juggle a sick baby, rambunctious toddler, and an Air Force pilot husband who was often gone for days at a time with no family around for support. Nevertheless, it cemented in me an aversion to procreation that has never abated. I'm turning 50 in March and have absolutely zero regrets. My husband is 23 years older and has two grown children who each have two children. We are a close and loving family. The grands have known me their whole lives and I'm as much an elder figure as anyone else. Often I've joked that I'm cultivating relationships with them and my cousin's two children so that I will have someone to visit me in the old folks' home. I also am going to Paris to celebrate my birthday, have been to 4 of the 7 continents and will add a 5th in 2021 on the trip I booked with a friend I met on another trans-continental journey. That would not have been possible in our circumstances if I were a mother. I freely call myself selfish and don't want to have to consider the needs of children when planning my life. We have a cat instead of a dog for the same reason. Once a male friend who is 10 years younger asked me if I ever thought about changing my mind. He was considering proposing to a woman who had also declared that she didn't want children. I felt glad that he came to me with this important of a matter, looked him right in the eye, and told him that personally I never considered it. That was something they'd need to figure out before marriage. They did get married and eventually had two delightful children that they love completely. She made the decision that was right for her. I feel like I made the decision that was right for me and haven't looked back. That's all anyone should ever be asked to do.

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  21. My spouse and I waffled back and forth about having kids. We were licensed as a foster family for three years and did respite care. That showed us that we liked each other more when we didn't have to care for anyone other than ourselves and our dogs. These days whenever we're in public and there's a baby/toddler having a meltdown, we look at each other and grin because it's not us. I'm in my late thirties and work at a software company with a lot of individuals in their 20s to 30s. 90% of them do not plan to have children. The child-free life is definitely on the rise!

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  22. I'm 35 and still wondering if I want to have kids or not. My husband is really good with children and I'm sure he'd be a great father, but we both feel pretty good with our life right now. Keep meditating if I want to have children because I want to or because that's how I was raised. I'm pretty sure any path we choose will be fine, but maybe it's this age where you have to really make the choice so keeps coming to my mind. Also the pressure from our parents it's hard! Other people seem fine with it, but I think that's because our lifestyle looks like the "no kids type" for the outsiders XD

    We keep in touch with our friends with kids, but it's mostly online or via text, some of them don't even try to meet up, others make the effort and I'm grateful they don't drift away. Sometimes I get kinda mad with those who make their lifes all about their children and even look down on me if I say I'm tired or really busy "Imagine if you had kids like me!" I try not to judge, since i'm not in their shoes but man, those kind of parents make me don't keep in touch.

    Everyone has their own path and should be acepted with it, don't judged by it.

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  23. I too do not have and never have wanted children. I am 8 years older than hubby so we had to have the 'kids' discussion pretty quickly in our relationship. He 'wasn't bothered' so we decided if the answer wasn't a definite yes, then it was a resounding NO! I have never had a gaping space in my life that only a baby would fill, however, if I didn't have my 4 pawed furries, I would be bereft.

    There are always many reasons why a couple are childless and I would never be so insensitive to ask and like many others here I got the 'you will have to hurry up with the kids' conversation as we got married when I was 33.

    Fast forward to the age of 44, I had to have a full hysterectomy. Even though all my friends and family knew my opinion, I still had several people feeling sorry for me because my choice of having offspring had been taken away.

    I will be finishing work soon, going home with my lovely hubby to have a tasty supper and relaxing time in front of the telly with a good film and 2 Rag Doll cats and a mini sausage dog to cuddle. Tried to cuddle the goldfish once, they didn't like it ;0)

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  24. When my daughter was three, she declared there are three kinds of grown up worms: Mommy worms, Daddy worms, and Friend worms, which are grown up worms that don't have kid worms. All of our child free friends thought this was hilarious, and we still refer to them as Friend worms sometimes... Our family is far away, and we have a few friends who are like extra aunts and uncles to our kids. It's very special to us. But I won't lie - it is strongly motivated by our friends interest, because I am not the greatest at balancing relationships and am pretty introverted anyway, which doesn't help. I will say, I am enormously supportive of the "friend worms" and their choices, which I think is a huge key to maintaining those relationships. I am also motivated somewhat by the idea of my daughter having role models that are women without kids.

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  25. I am a notmom and I will be 36 this year. I wanted them.when I was younger and then life and circumstances decided that it wasnt for me. I'm not against people with children and I love kids I just dont personally want them. Most of my friends have kids that I try and see as often as I can and I have others who dont have kids. I am the the honorary auntie so I feel fulfilled without children and a without a life partner. Kudos to you and John and I love your blog thank you so much for sharing!!

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  26. I probably said something very similar to this when the article first came out, so forgive me. I agree with a lot of the comments that I have read on here. It seems if you aren't doing things the way "everyone else is" you get questioned. When are you going to get married (this before you even find mr/mrs right) when are you going to have children (the second you say I do) if you have a child "when are you going to have more?"
    It was so nice to finally be old enough that they stopped asking those questions and seemed to stop judging my life choices. Now I still get asked if I have kids, but they don't ask why any more. Which is nice.

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  27. I'm a mom, and have several friends who are "not moms" :) I really appreciate those friendships for offering something different than my day to day life, and for giving my an excuse to ditch the kid and go out alone. ;) Some of them are close enough that they're like extra aunts/uncles to my kid, and I really appreciate that she will have other, non-parent, adults in her life. Also, not the same, but we got a lot of pressure to have a second child once we'd had out first, which is not for me. I think the majority of society has some idea of exactly what a family will look like, and if you don't conform in whatever way they question, which can be quite irritating.

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  28. I mentioned some of it a bit earlier, but my husband and I have four children: two "topside" that we have to parent and pray for (!!), one with Jesus, and one baking up now. It's not about whether or not we "want" them or how they fit into our lives, or our finances. There's nothing like holding a dead baby to impress on you that each one is an eternal soul, dearly beloved by their Maker, and a privilege to shepherd and steward for a season. My identity isn't in being a mom, or not a mom, it's in faithfully serving with what God in His wisdom has given us.

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  29. As the (very happy) mother of a toddler, bring on the child free friends! We host our big monthly DnD session at our house, because it's way easier to wrangle the child in familiar surrounds. Because everyone else is child free, there are six adults to one child - a ratio sufficient to ensure someone has a spare pair of hands for him at any one time!

    Oh, and child-free friends make the best babysitters. I'll tee up two friends who don't know each other, one to babysit while I go out with the other friend - then trade back the next week so the other friend babysits while I go out with the first friend.

    Also, curiously, we're in the minority of our friendship group having had kids at all - and we're 30. I'd never assume other people want to or plan to have kids; from my lived experience, it seems like most people I'm fond of aren't all that certain on the whole procreation business at all.

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  30. I had kids "late" (after 35) by choice and my kids are still toddlers. Mostly people weren't too bad when DH and I were child-free, but I think that was partly because in addition to both working full-time, we also raised rare-breed sheep; when people would ask if I had kids, I'd say "no, I have a farm" and that usually diverted them. I definitely got some "told you so" vibes when I finally did have them, mostly from my dad, who's an Eastern European immigrant. As far as non-parents being friends with parents, I'd just say: please be patient with us! Especially when our kids are little. My friends are still important to me and it breaks my heart a little that I can't be there for them as much as I used to.

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  31. As one of 6 kids (last 2 when I was 16 and 18,thnks dad) I never wanted to have kids. I love babies but 3 to 13yrs I can do without. And I have. HOWEVER - I have 4 delightful nephews to spoil and 2 families who have shared their kids with me. All the fun and none of the expense!!!!

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  32. As a 34-year-old married woman who is child-free BOTH by choice and by illness, I get extremely frustrated when people imply I should already have children, or that I'll be having them soon. I'm also a college student, so unfortunately I rather frequently have peers, faculty and staff members asking about 'how many kids do you and your husband have' or similar and when I say none, just cats, they're like 'oh I'm sure it'll happen soon!' as if that's something I want or even something physically possible, which it is not.

    The most frustrating part is when they won't stop, even after I insist I'm happy childfree, and I have to pull out the big guns and say "Actually I have a condition that makes pregnancy extremely difficult and dangerous so I can't anyway" and then they act like it's the biggest tragedy ever. Ugh. I am more than my uterus and what I choose to do with it! I am a student and a wife and a baker and a cat owner and so much more than my unused, broken-ass, useless uterus!!!

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  33. Because I think it's none of anyone's business whether or not we have kids, I deflect questions in general. There have been only a couple of times when people have been persistent enough to make me angry, at which point I typically say "We don't have kids, we have MONEY". It lets them know we're done talking about it. I almost felt badly about it one time when his 11yo was watching, and he then had to explain to the kid that they'd rather have him than money, but it was his own doing. He was a stranger until that evening when we had dinner at the same communal table in a B&B.

    I do get sad when great friends don't have time anymore, but we've successfully navigated a few relationships through the first years.

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  34. Hi, I think it's great that you know your mind about not wanting kids. Having children is SO MUCH WORK, even when you are 1000% sure you want them, and it's no good for the little ones -or you- if you're not sure. I wanted 4 kids and only had one, and now I'm blessed with one granddaughter who is the light of my life. I even started a blog about her (aliyahrose.com) and I couldn't be happier.

    My sister and her hubby had 4 kids, and she got questioned a lot as to why she had so many. I suggested she look at them quizzically and say, "What an odd question." It would work just as well if you didn't want/have any though. It's your business. I think you are both wonderful people, and I love your blog, although this is my first comment. (I read your New Year's Resolution post, and it really resonated with why I started my blog - similar reasons. I want to spread happiness and smiles, and also revel in my family.) You're blogs were the first ones I ever got interested in, and they really influence the freedom I feel when I write. I just want you to know that you are wonderful people and you touch my heart.

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  35. Sometimes it is also up to the moms to make a bit more effort for the notmom friends. I remember the kids birthdays, buy them presents, read them books, play with them, celebrate their successes, ask about school etc. Sadly, the attention and care doesn't always go equally in both directions.

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  36. I'm a little late to the game, but I'm 66, married almost 47 years and child-free by choice. My husband would have been fine with children if I had wanted them or changed my mind. I've known I didn't want children from the time I was a kid. Kids are great, but demand a lot of time, effort and money - a that is plain simple fact of life. That being said I certainly have had a number of people ask (sometimes quite aggressively) WHY don't you want children and my answer has always been, "I guess I'm selfish" Also, I know many, many women who wanted children, had them and have said to me, "I love my kids, but if I knew then what I know now I doubt I would have had them." Yep. I also have had a number of people say that Ron Howard's movie, "Parenthood" absolutely hits the nail on the head. I have no regrets about my choice, I've always enjoyed animals and have been a Cat mom throughout my life. My husband has been a willing Cat Dad. My husband retired at 56 and I still work (mostly because I want to) and life is good.

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