09 August, 2021

As a childless woman ...

Loribeth highlighted an article from last year (one which I also missed) that featured an interview with Jody Day. There’s a lot in there that is thought-provoking, but I was struck by this comment:

Anytime you read the phrase, “As a mother…” you are likely to be seeing pronatalism in action - it’s a way of valorizing one woman’s experience over another… because when do you ever see, “As a childless woman…?”

“She’s so right!” I thought. The few times I’ve tried to say, “as a childless woman,” I have purely been explaining myself (instead of being judgemental or self-congratulatory). But it hasn’t always gone down well with those hearing it. Sigh.

 As a childless woman …

  • writing a Will isn’t as straightforward as “I’ll leave it all to my kids.”
  • I have to plan for my old age because nobody else will do it or be there with me.
  • I have to bite my tongue around my friends.
  • I am isolated.
  • my experiences are devalued.
  • mothers have been condescending to me.
  • few people really want to understand my life.
  • the government and policy makers forget about me.

On the other hand, I could also say the following:

As a childless woman …

  • I have the interests of all children at heart, not just selfishly* those I love.
  • my environmental footprint is so much lower than a parent’s.
  • I have had time to work on myself, to grow, and develop.
  • I have compassion for outsiders.
  • I am realistic about what is possible and what isn’t. 
What would you say in a sentence beginning with "As a childless woman ...?"

* Yes, a deliberate use of the "S" word! lol


  1. Oh, I love this! I mean, the negatives are so true and so heartwrenching, but there is power in commiseration. It sucks to have experiences devalued and not just misunderstood, but no desire to understand. However, how strong the positives are! Love it! Especially #1, #3, and #5. The odds are my favorites! :)

    As a childless woman, I can give my mothering energy to my students (appropriately of course), and I have more of it to give because I don't have to split it between home and school. I can connect with kids in the armpit of their life (middle school) and be a trusted adult. I can also have confidence in my teaching skills because I don't fall back on my experiences as a parent with just one or two kids, but what I know about adolescent development and what works for many kids in the developmental moment that I have them. :)

  2. I love both your lists, even with the S word (needs to be said).