Add this new book to the growing number of books out there about the childfree choice: No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood. It is a collection of essays edited by Henriette Mantel, a New York comedy writer.
I am reading the book right now, enjoying it, and went to a book event this week in San Francisco where four of the contributors read, and then opened it up for discussion. Some high points:
Maureen Langan, award-winning comic and broadcast journalist, talked about how at 41, she underwent IVF four times, surprisingly got pregnant “easily” but miscarried. She remarked about how the idea of having a child felt like her life would be “constricted.” I wondered why if she felt this why she tried IVF not just once, but four times….I hope her essay goes into this.
Vanda Mikoloski, is a comic and a budding entrepreneur-she is starting a line of men’s underwear called “carpe scrotum” – that alone got the audience roaring. Some things she mentioned that contributed to her not wanting kids: she experienced death in her life, and as a result “closed her heart,” put on emotional armor, and dated “jerks”…
The line I loved most related to the childfree decision from Andrea Michaels, former LA stand-up comic and game show writer, was, “I don’t describe myself in other’s terms.” Take that to heart, childfree!
And Bernadette Luckett, who has worked as a stand-up comic and is now working on a documentary about teaching vets the art of stand-up comedy, talked about how her mother’s attitudes about childrearing and parenthood influenced her, as well as a “lingering fear of pregnancy.”
Some good discussion ensued, including Maureen making the point that the question that really needs to be answered is, “What is the nurturing part of your life?” Motherhood is certainly not the only way for women to answer this question for themselves.
I also loved a comment by a 23 year old who said it is now a “political statement to have kids.” Some younger people have concerns about bringing children into the world right now.
She also commented that having children is seen as just a “different way to go about life.” That made me smile. This view coming from a Millennial is a good sign toward the social acceptance of the childfree choice in that generation.
Another young woman asked whether there were essays by younger women in the book – the panel said not really, as Mantel sought out friends more her age who don’t have kids.
It made think – maybe that is the next essay collection that needs to come out. In 2007, a similar book came out called Pride and Joy – it’s a collection of essays by women from all walks of life. But is not from younger women either…
I am in the midst of a decade long longitudinal study of childfree women. I am tracking forty women who were in their twenties when the study started over two years ago.
These women will have their stories, but until this study completes, childfree women and men out there in your 20s- even 30s, any takers to begin collecting your stories?
Anyone else read No Kidding yet? Please share your thoughts!
Tags: childfree women, childless by choice women