One of the thing that has helped me so much in my recovery from unchosen childlessness has been hearing other women’s stories. Over the last few years I’ve got to know some amazing childless women and it’s been a privilege and a delight that I wanted to share with you. I know that it would have made a huge difference to me when I was still struggling if I’d been able to eavesdrop on conversations between women who’d recovered from their childlessness and were moving on with their lives in ways that felt meaningful to them. Firstly, because I didn’t know women like that, and secondly because these conversations weren’t (and still aren’t) part of the mainstream narrative. It seems that the media is still stuck on shaming, untrue and unhelpful stereotypes such as the ‘selfish’ childfree women and ‘foolish’ childless ones. It is my hope that this interview series will go some way towards shifting that.
This video interview with Karen Malone Wright, Founder of the US website TheNotMom.com was recorded in September 2015, one month before the first NotMom Summit in Cleveland, Ohio.
** UPDATE / 2017 **
The 2nd NotMom Summit takes place on 6/7 October 2017 in Cleveland, OH and tickets are available by event, by day or for the whole summit. I’m speaking at lunchtime on Saturday 7th October. Some of the most interesting writers, thinkers, artists, film-makers, activists and sheros in the childless/childfree firmament will be there – please come along! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-notmom-summit-2017-tickets-20234987392
In this frank, friendly and taboo-busting discussion we discuss, amongst other things:
- Karen’s own story about how she came to be a ‘NotMom’ (her term) even though, as an only child she’d grown up wanting to have a huge family. Her story includes signposts which ma be familiar to many of us, including an early failed marriage to ‘the wrong guy’, fertility issues, her second marriage ‘to the right guy’ in her mid-30s, some ambivalence and a medical diagnosis at 41 that made it inadvisable to continue trying.
- She talks movingly of how the grief that hit her when she knew she definitely wasn’t going to be mother ‘floored her’ and the surprising way that she found to both ‘say goodbye’ to her dream of motherhood, and begin her path to moving on…
- We discuss our shared experience of being childless after having had an abortion in our 20s, and how this experience is still very rarely spoken about openly – and how this leads to a double silencing of grief and shame around childlessness, both internal and external.
- Karen and I discuss whether the experience of being a childless woman of colour is different in the UK and US, and what that might be about…
- She tells us more about how she got the inspiration for TheNotMom.com and what led her to create the world’s very first conference for women without children ‘The Not Mom Summit’ in Cleveland, Ohio.
- And finally we talk about the way that women like Karen and myself choose to see each other as collaborators rather than competitors. And how this ethos need to be extended to the sometimes difficult gap between childless and childfree women. I admire that TheNotMom.com addresses both audiences, and so does TheNotMom Summit. It deserves to be a huge success and I wish everyone involved the very best of luck, and a great weekend.