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Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:27 pm 
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I am a writer doing research in support of a woman's right to choose a life without motherhood, free of judgment, pity or feeling like she's missing out on the "ultimate" female experience in life. My inspiration is my own daughter -- I want her to know that living a life that feels authentic to her is what I (and her dad) want for her. Too many parents, friends, coworkers, and the media shove the "woman + baby = happiness" equation down women's throats. I hope that your answers and honesty will contribute to a very important body of work that will "wake up" so many people to the reality that not every woman should be or wants to become a mom. So here are my 2 questions -- and thank you in advance for contributing to an important body of work in support of women everywhere so that they can "lean in" to whatever feels authentic to them (and ignore outside pressures):
1 - Did you grow up hearing assumptions about your life as a female? E.g. people in your life just assuming that you would become a mother someday.
2 - There are so many ways to bring meaning to a person's life - whether female or male. As a childfree woman, what are a couple of examples of moments in your life where you felt fulfilled, proud, intense joy, feeling like you'd touched someone's life?

Thank you again for your time and honesty.

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Prejudices are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education. They grow there firm as weeds among stones -- Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre


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Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:50 pm 
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Very best of luck with your writing and for what it's worth my responses to your questions:

1) No, not at all. There was never any mention in my household about motherhood or marriage, the only focus from my father was academic and my mother and I were more interested in Star Trek. :D I didn't ask and they didn't offer. I also never concerned myself with kids, any kids, not even ones to whom I was biologically related....The media exposure just washed over me, my CFness is innate and as such acts as a Teflon coating.

2) OK this is more difficult to answer and I feel as though the question itself is somewhat loaded in that having meaning is important and 'touching someone else's life' is a pre-requisite to a happy life. I don't believe that you have to have meaning and I'm not bothered about 'touching someone's life'. I don't feel I need to fill my life with 'stuff' whether that be emotional, material, experiences or whatever. It's enough for me to have a comfortable, enjoyable existance.
I feel fulfilled now, sitting in my living room answering this question. I generally feel fulfilled I don't feel that there's anything lacking or missing. I'm happy and content. I can point to times I felt pride, intense joy etc...but they are moments, fleeting, transient, it's the culmination of all those things that have led me to where I am now, picking out a few wouldn't (to my mind) shed any light on why I feel as I do or how I feel as I do.
It's not just the experience or the action that's important, it's how I process it, what I do with it emotionally and mentally and that is in good part genetic not just a product of culture and exposure. I can't point to an activity which would shed light on my biological or psychological make-up which has resulted in me being as I am.

ETA: Interestingly we had a thread recently about those ordinary moments that fill you with bliss. A seeming nothing very much, but it filled you with warmth and contentment and left you with that lingering feeling of joy. Most of the people who responded to that thread indicated that those moments were ones where they were alone.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:20 pm 
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1) I never felt stereotyped as a "female" and I had some leeway on the child thing because my dad has siblings who never married or had children. However, I do think there was an element of "they didn't have kids because they didn't get married or have LT relationships". There definitely was no gender bias in that way and my parents really wanted me to have a good career more than anything; growing up, that's what I had drummed into me - education, career and a stable income.

2) this is tough to answer because I do have moments where I know I have touched the lives of friends and even strangers - who then became my friend - but they are mostly too personal to share. The one example I will cite is one I've shared here before. I made friends with a lonely OAP neighbour who was estranged from her child. She had a terrible upbringing, her husband was long dead, and I know she had a lot of issues trusting people in the end - who can blame her?! - but I know I made her feel looked after in the last years of her life.

I don't think that "touching the lives of others" is essential or anything. But I know it's entirely possible to do this with no husband or children, or even family base. I mean, I get on with my family but that lady neighbour was pretty much estranged from all of hers - but she brought a lot of happiness to me and I know a lot of other neighbours were very attached to her too. She was a lovely person and understood many of us very well.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:57 pm 
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Good luck with the book!! Definitely something I would read ;).

1) yes, I always assumed I'd end up with kids, because 'it's just what you do.' Never really wanted them, imagined myself as a mom, or anything like that, but I did always want to be married, and I just assumed whoever I married would want kids. Imagine my happiness when I met DH, who had the same feelings exactly-he didn't want any, but just assumed he'd end up with a woman who did. That said, my parents raised both me & my sister to be financially independent, professional women. Our mom is a doctor so we had a great professional role model. Our dad is very proud of our career accomplishments & always encouraged us to reach for the stars professionally- not so much on the find-a-husband-and-pop-out-a-baby front. My parents don't care if I have a kid or not. My sister is pregnant (and this will be her only child), so they'll have one grandkid, and they seem happy with that.

2) I am a very supportive & loving wife to my husband. He appreciates me and everything I do for him (and he for me) and we definitely make each others' lives better. I have 2 rescue dogs who I know in my bones are happy that they were rescued by me & my husband. I am very good friends with some older ladies in my neighborhood- both childed and not childed. I try to help them and chat with them and I feel that I really do make a difference. One of my neighbors has a wonderful dog who is very old and needed to be driven to the vet 3x/week for 6 weeks. She doesn't have a car, so I took her every time. She was so grateful, but I was just happy I could help. I plan to help my sister with babycare and she is already grateful that she will have someone she can rely on for childcare. I also volunteer with children at public schools in NYC, but I don't feel like I am touching their lives in any way- they don't seem to care if I am there or not!

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Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:16 pm 
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1)- yes, I was constantly bombarded with all of the female stereotypes. :oops: And I blew them all up. :D I was lectured about caring for my baby dolls- I had more fun running "science" experiments on them (i.e. I had a doll that had hair that changed colors with hot vs. cold water. I set the hair on fire to see what color it would turn- answer is black, HAHA). The rest of the time when I was forced to play with a doll, I carried it around by the foot. I threw fits and refused to wear dresses because I just didn't like them. And I remember becoming depressed as a young teen when people told me that I would have babies one day. My mom finally told me that it was ok for me to be the person I am and make my own decisions. I am so grateful for that "permission"-- it allowed me to open a door to becoming the content fun-loving CF woman I am today.
2) A moment of pride was when I came up with a treatment idea in the OR that the surgeon hadn't thought of and saved a patient's life on the table. Seeing that patient's smile in recovery room was worth all the bad days I had that week! A moment of pure joy was waking up after my sterilization and seeing my hubby's smiling face- such a feeling of freedom had never existed before in my life. A moment of knowing I had touched someone's life was when I showed up as a surprise to help a new friend with a project-- I drove 5 hours because I knew it was important to her- no one else showed up for her and she cried because it meant so much to her to have someone care for her even when I didn't have to.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:36 pm 
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I'm arguably a woman. I have a vagina, I was born female, and I was raised as a girl. That said, I identify genderless. Take that as you will.

1. I definitely grew up with the assumption that I would be a mother, I don't think anyone in my immediate sphere ever thought of parenthood as a choice. I think the biggest thing that made me feel dread/not realize it was a choice until later despite not liking kids was the phrase "When you have kids..." I think we need to eliminate that phrasing from the social dialogue. It should be "If you have kids..." Treating parenthood like an inevitability ruins lives. I also grew up being told by anyone and everyone that I would never find a partner that would stay with me if I didn't want kids. My stepfather called me very unkind things for even daring to suggest I didn't want to have kids, and he told me repeatedly that I would probably be pregnant before I even finished high school.

2. I have never felt like I have to make anything of my life, I only have to live for myself, and I think perhaps that is the most fulfilling thing about my life. The most joyful moments of my life follow a bit of a theme: the day I realized I didn't have to have children, the day my partner committed to having a childfree life with me, the day my doctor agreed to sterilize me, and waking up after my sterilization and realizing I was free from the burden of fertility that had plagued and appalled me since I was old enough to understand what it meant. Some of my most fulfilling activities are my writing and my art, but everyone has something that makes them happy. Sometimes for me it's as simple as finishing a good book, or having great (safe) sex.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:10 pm 
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supportwomenschoices wrote:
1 - Did you grow up hearing assumptions about your life as a female? E.g. people in your life just assuming that you would become a mother someday.
2 - There are so many ways to bring meaning to a person's life - whether female or male. As a childfree woman, what are a couple of examples of moments in your life where you felt fulfilled, proud, intense joy, feeling like you'd touched someone's life?

Thank you again for your time and honesty.

first off good for you for supporting your daughter's decision to be CF or what ever it is she wants to be. Not enough parents do that for their children IMO. But to answer your questions

1) I did grow up with the assumption that i would one day have children. The thought saddened me then as it does not. Only now i realize i don't have to have them if i don't want them. And if society doesn't like it then oh well. My life not theirs. i remember doing the who "when i have kids" game. But my story or plan would always be to get a job that paid me enough to ship them off somewhere else until they were 18, then i didn't have to deal with them any morel. And i've probably mentioned this somewhere else before but the realization really hit when i worked at a day care one summer. While all my co workers were playing with kids and having fun I was disgusted and frustrated most of the time. To make them quiet and tire them out I would run mock military drills. They call me drill Sargent by the end of the summer and I asked my doctor if he would accept my last check as payment for a tube ligation.

2) Honestly I feel like that when I just listen to one of my friends who needs to talk. Which can be often depending on the season. But doing volunteer work with women's rights agencies, and right now going to school. Even though I seem to be getting a lot of bingo's and shocked looks when i say i don't want kids I still enjoy learning. But most I'm excited about graduation. It will bring me that much closer to working in my chosen career field. And that whole feeling "real love" I feel that with my boyfriend. I don't need to do a science experiment in my uterus to find my true love. :)

Hope that helps. I look forward to reading your finished product


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Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:37 pm 
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1 - I don't recall any specific times when people assumed I would have kids. I'm sure people assumed it and made mention of it, but either it didn't affect me or I just don't remember. My mom's best friend and her husband are childfree (in their late 50s) and my dad's best friend and his wife are childfree (mid-70s), so it was never something "weird" to me. In first grade I told my mom, "I want to be like Grandma and not have a job". She was a SAHM, but her kids were grown up and gone and all I thought about was how much fun she must have all the time!

2 - I was a Big Sister for about five years to a girl age 10-15. I had so much fun with her and really felt like I made a big difference in her life. She learned about the world outside of her roots/family, and had experiences she never would have had due to their financial situation. She taught me a lot about how similar people are even if they come from completely different backgrounds.
I've also helped take care of a coworker several times when she was ill or laid up from injuries, as well as helping friends through difficult times (death of a parent for instance). Otherwise, I feel fulfilled every time I see or think about my husband, my family, our cats, our dog, etc. etc.

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"I have no adoration for very little babies... An ugly baby is a very nasty object -- and the prettiest is frightful when undressed..."
Queen Victoria


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Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:00 pm 
Did you grow up hearing assumptions about your life as a female? E.g. people in your life just assuming that you would become a mother someday.
Not that I can remember. My parents were terrible and didn't really want to deal with us in the first place so my mom made it clear that she didn't care whether we ever had kids or not. I never played with dolls or did girly things and was always someone who marched to the beat of their own drum, so I doubt anyone ever really expected me to follow a traditional path.

As a childfree woman, what are a couple of examples of moments in your life where you felt fulfilled, proud, intense joy, feeling like you'd touched someone's life?
I do a lot of photography and one of my favorite subjects to photograph are insects. I post them on my website and Facebook and I get intense joy and thrill out of people who start to see these "nasty bugs" in a different light. Some start to lose their fear, others see a beautiful creature where previously all they saw was insignificant, some start to pay attention...I feel like it wakes people up a little bit and introduces them to a world that they didn't even know existed. Same with travel photos that I show.
I volunteer at out local shelter as a photographer and I get such a kick out of seeing former shelter dogs out at the dog park enjoying their new lives. But what really sends me into orbit is when they mention seeing a photo of the dog and that that's what prompted them to visit the shelter. That's the greatest.
Also taking care of my husband. He has an ungodly stressful job that affects a lot of people. Making sure home is a refuge is a good feeling.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:52 pm 
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1. Yes, I was expected to get married. I don't remember any verbal expectation that I should have children. I think that's because my mother did not have any maternal qualities/nuturing skills. She had 5 children in the 1950's and when I asked her why she said it was because "that's what you did back then." My parent's expectation was that I support myself, by marriage and/or employment.
2. Many things in daily life bring me joy and fulfillment. I trail run and something as simple as listening to the birds sing as the sun comes up starts my day off nicely. I volunteer and perform productive activities to touch both animal and human life.

It's quite narrow minded to think that a woman can only know joy, etc. if she has a child. I never had any maternal feelings so it made sense not to repeat what my mom did and have children just because that is what you are supposed to do.


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