Field Research: In Search of The Non-Moms


searchWe all define ourselves differently. Some of us become one with our occupations: doctor, lawyer, teacher or artist. Others define themselves by age, religion, location or political persuasion. Still others by relationships.  Whether intentional or not, each label gets a value assigned to it.  Try these identities on for size: You’re a young New Yorker social worker who’s also a devoted daughter.  You’re a newly-married 30-something left-leaning Irish Catholic reporter. You’re a middle-aged Canadian small business owner and former Peace Corps volunteer.

If you happen to be female, this weekend you’re also either a mom or a non-mom.  I gotta wonder sometimes in a child-centric society where there’s near chronic “mommy” worship why we need a day set aside anyway. This census report from the US talks about the history of the day and the fact that in this country there are 82.5 million mothers of all ages — sometimes it feels like they all live next door to me. Try to find data on non-moms and you’ll be stumped pretty easily.

There are clearly lots of us non-moms out there (some by chance, some by design, some by biological flaw), but we’re not walking about declaring ourselves as such. Would I prefer to be in the group being recognized this Sunday? I’d by lying if I said no, but just once could we find a way to celebrate more quietly? It’s tough enough to be infertile without being singled out on a day like Sunday. Talk about being made to feel like a second class citizen or, worse still, having no value at all.

See also  A Belief in a Just World? Ah! That's Why Fertiles Don't Care

I could end this post there but I thought better of it. I’m a Californian, a writer, a student of the world, a devoted wife, sister, aunt, daughter and friend as well as a lover of books, wine, film, Michigan football, and travel. Who are you?


14 Responses

  1. DD

    May 8, 2007 2:24 pm

    I have really been struggling with how to pay tribute to the “non-moms” this weekend because you and all the women who have tried or are still trying want to be moms. That has to count for something, right?

    Instead, I will probably use that time to honor my own mother.

    But to answer your last question: I’m a country girl who loves dirt beneath her nails and a rockin pair of 3″ heels in the closet. I am a thin-skinned bitch. I’m an artist always looking for inspiration.

  2. Rebecca

    May 8, 2007 9:59 pm

    I am a wife. I am a friend. I am an honorary sister. I am a daughter. I am a good colleague. I am a writer. I am a journaller. I am the mother of a crazy cat. I am a daughter in law – beloved by some. I am a bisexual. I am the only woman my husband ever loved (he is also bisexual…). I am a survivor. I am a complete music lover. I am a reader. I am just at the beginning of infertility struggles.

    I am also part of the Braces Bunch. I sent you mail today 🙂

    Nice to meet you 🙂 xxx

  3. Deathstar

    May 9, 2007 6:46 am

    I will be performing A Mother’s Story, together with 40 other Vancouver actresses who have intertwined our mother’s stories in a tribute to them. My mother, who lives in care for dementia, will be in attendance. I will do my best to tell her story and give people just a taste of her incredible spirit. I will do my best to make the day about her and not my grief.

    Can’t say I’m over not being able to give her a grandchild who might have had her incredible singing voice (none of her daughters got it), but I will do my best.

    I am a daughter, sister, wife, daughter in law, human mum to a 9 year black lab, proud African-Canadian actress who directs, writes and practices Buddhism as best as she can. Which means resisting the urge to kick the crap out of anyone who tells me, “Well, you can always adopt.”

  4. Carlynn

    May 9, 2007 1:04 pm

    Thank you for your comment about the injections, it is really sweet of you.

    And who am I? I am a reader, a writer, a traveller and an explorer.

    Like that, I look good. It is important to see ourselves as more than just non-mommies. It’s just tough in the midst of mother worship but I think the most important thing is recognising how much our society does revolve around families and kids. I am not saying this is a bad thing, just that we are not paranoid, we do live in a society where children are extremely important and often seen as a vital part of self-fulfilment. Thank you for your acknowledgement of this, I don’t think I would seen it without your recognition of this characteristic of today’s society.

  5. Foreverhopeful

    May 9, 2007 5:46 pm

    Thank you for this. I was feeling down about Mother’s day this week and it didn’t help that I got an insensitive email to remind me of what I’m not.

    You’ve inspired me again to write about who I am on my blog (even if I’m not a mom yet).

    Thank you for this great reminder!

  6. lady macleod

    May 9, 2007 7:45 pm

    I am a mother, I am everyday grateful for that. I lost three children in various states of utero and delivery before I got lucky. I am a loyal friend, a writer, and a lifetime learner.
    I saw your comments on Pluto’s blog and was intrigued. I am glad to be here and have a look into your world.

  7. Mel

    May 9, 2007 11:45 pm

    I think I usually define myself based on the person I’m defining myself for. And I think I usually use the criteria they don’t know. Is that why I still define myself as an infertile woman since the outside world sees me as a mother and doesn’t know (1) how I conceived these kids and (2) how I’m still trying to build my family? It’s an interesting question (and I’ll pass you your Cosmo as I write this). I think I’m a writer. And a reader. And I’m pretty sensitive and probably more introverted than comes across in my blog. And I think about ice cream or chocolate at least once or twice or three hundred times a day. And I am a lover of the colour orange and a hopeless nostalgic. And a mother. And an infertile woman. And someone who always needs to travel with a camera.

    But now if I look back at the list, I wonder about all the things I left out.

    Good question for 4 a.m.!

  8. JJ

    May 10, 2007 2:04 am

    A non-mom here. Sunday will be hard–no doubt, but I am going to focus on the women in my life that have made a difference. But Sunday I will remember myself as a loving daughter, sister, wife, writer, artist, singer, lover of wine, hopeless romantic, Type A, neat freak, and a hollywood gossip addict.
    Thanks for this post…

  9. Mands

    May 10, 2007 7:11 am

    Hi PJ, Thanks for your comment on my blog. Your post is an interesting way of looking at things. I think this is the first Mother’s Day that I am truly dreading, and your post made it clear why that is. Thank you for a very thought provoking post. I would love to read more of your blog when I have some free time.

  10. Aunt Sassy

    May 10, 2007 7:34 am

    I am a semi-conservative LDS woman with a bit of an edge, who enjoys surprising people with parts of my personality they don’t expect. A reader, a traveler, and lover of languages. A wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister and rockin’ aunt. A courageous woman.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Jen

    May 10, 2007 8:18 am

    I am a my mans world, I am a business owner, I am a hard worker, I am a good friend, I am a great listener, I am a non mom but I have worth, I love, laugh and live to the best of my abilities. and in small print, I haven’t quite moved on.

  12. Bumble

    May 11, 2007 2:44 am

    I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, I am a lover of the outdoors, of fine food, of good red wine, of cats, of movies and of books. I may not be a mom yet in the flesh, but I am a mother to my lost babies, and I am me.

  13. beagle

    May 11, 2007 4:15 am

    Just found your blog. I am a non-mom about to turn 39 on mom’s day. I have given up on pregnancy but still hope to adopt. Though time seems to be running out all the same!

    Other than a non-mom, I am a nurse, a friend, a potter, a knitter, a scuba diver, a sailor.

    I hope you have a great weekend anyway!

  14. Bea

    May 13, 2007 4:21 am

    I love this post. I have no good answer, at the moment. Maybe I should say I’m a Work In Progress.


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