Listening to an interview today, I heard a young Maori man talk about his desire to go somewhere where being Maori was normal, the standard state of being.
Whilst different, this need to belong, the yearning to be amongst people who are the same, made me think of childless women. Whilst we might have accepted we'll never be part of the wider "norm" of women who are mothers or who expect to be mothers, we do still yearn for a place where we feel normal, where No Kidding women are the standard, or at least we are not seen as different. Sometimes we can achieve that in work gatherings – I don't really recall being asked if I had children at any time in the 11 years I was on a Board of Directors (although I faced other sexist issues over my time on the Board), and I also remember going on a course when, for two wonderful days, the issue of anyone having children was completely irrelevant and ignored by all attendees. The fact that I still remember the relief and freedom that two-day course offered me ten years ago is a testament to how rare these times can be, and to how unrelenting the pressure to be "normal" can be. (Though it also reminds me that I feel this pressure so much less, if at all, these days.)
I am lucky too, in that I have some friends without children. In fact, a week or so ago a group of women – all mutual friends of a friend – went out for dinner and a community theatre performance, and it was only afterwards that I realised that only one of us had children. We had a great time. Yes, my friend showed videos of her new nephew, and I felt forced to ooh and aah over him for her sake (she is also involuntarily No Kidding). But once that was over, we all relaxed, had fun, and best of all, felt normal, and that we belonged.
I hope that you all manage to have the occasional evening like this, when you can shed your childlessness, and just be.