If childfree by-circumstance, can you share your journey with us?
I was born in a place and a generation where the expected path for a woman was to become a mother. We were encouraged to have a career, but becoming a mother was a given. I took a long and twisty road that led me to begin to question this assumption. I explored the possibility of a life without children. And then I met Bill, the man I wanted to spend my life with. He didn’t want kids. We married with the plan we would be childfree, but soon after, I began to doubt my decision. I wasn’t sure — was this doubt my own, or was it the pressure I was experiencing from outside? From the sense that I was disappointing others? I’ve written about my story in my memoir, THIS PARTICULAR HAPPINESS: A CHILDLESS LOVE STORY. I have traveled a path of being sometimes childless and sometimes childfree. Now, at 62 I fully love my life as it is.
Do you have any pets?
Yes I have a new pup named JoJo. He’s part Aussie and part poodle and I’m kind of obsessed with him at the moment. He thinks I’m all right too. But whoa. I always said if I was going to have a dog I might as well have a kid…it’s kind of like that– the little dude needs ATTENTION.
What was your first job?
Driving trucks hauling wheat and potatoes.
What is your occupation now?
I’m a writer and author.
What is a typical day like for you?
My days are fluid. Some days I write (working on some essays, a novel, and writing songs…all very slowly), some I play music (baritone ukulele), every day I spend time with my husband Bill, walking the dog, getting some exercise in. Plenty of time in the garden. I hang out with friends and family. I have weekly music lessons and a weekly writing critique group. Pre-Covid I had a regular date with one of my little great nephews. Life is full…no day is ever the same as the one before. Sometimes the day goes by and I don’t know where it went but I’m pretty sure I fit a nap in.
Do you enjoy any hobbies?
Gardening is a LONG time thing. Lots of raised beds for veggies and fruit amidst the flowers and shrubs.
Last year I started playing ukulele and quickly went from that little soprano uke to a baritone, which suit my (alleged) singing voice. Yep, I who never sang am singing sometimes too and writing songs alongside my other writing.
The dog is a kind of brain twisting hobby. Figuring out how to teach him good manners, and how he is teaching me how to teach him.
Do you have a special talent or skill?
I could say writing and playing music are skills, but they are endlessly being refined. I’d say my best skill is my curiosity about people and connecting beyond small talk. We are all so damn fascinating. I’m particularly interested in what comes up for us in relationship with the other.
If you could master a new skill instantly, what would you like to learn to do?
Singing and playing guitar.
What’s an interesting fact about you?
I’ve had three solid careers. Social Worker, HR Manager, and Author. I love the idea that we keep shifting and growing and learning and our work life can shift with us.
Do you have any “stupid human” tricks?
I’m 62 and I can still do the splits.
Are there any accomplishments you want to brag about? (Don’t be modest, we want to know!)
Yes…I’m pretty proud of making the decision to begin writing when I was in my early 40’s. I think it saved my life…finding a place to channel my creative drive that, up until then, was coming out in tidily arranged utensils and well organized files and meeting the business GOALS of the company I worked for.
I studied the craft of writing and began to have short stories and essays published. And finally my memoir. A shining moment was being at the podium at Powell’s books (the big fabulous bookstore in Portland) for my book launch.
One of the great pleasures that has come from writing has been the community of writers. I have taken what I’ve learned and given back through offering writing workshops to people who are experiencing homelessness or other profound hardships (through our local library). The writing I see from this group blows me away.
My husband and I also work together leading workshops on communication and team building and relationships for emergency services workers.
What do you enjoy most about the childfree lifestyle?
I adore the kids in my life and I have gotten to be aunt, great aunt, dear friend to so many young people. I know they see me as special and a kind of resource that is different.
As a younger person, as my friends were parenting and locked in to schedules and plans and school holidays and sports, I was fully aware of the freedom my childfree lifestyle gave me to do what I wanted when I wanted, to travel, to have a disposable income I may not have had otherwise.
Give us your Top Three recommendations for travel destinations that you have visited?
It’s been a long time ago that I was there, but Egypt was one of the most fascinating places I’ve been. The history there is soooo long, so old, it gave me a perspective.
Switzerland is a stunning country…every little piece of land put to good and tidy use.
The southwest desert of the US (the national parks in southern Utah and northern Arizona. Again, it is the sense of the ancient that is revealed in the layers of earth and erosion. And each park is different. I’ve been there at least nine times (in summer and fall and spring). Each time fully captivated.
Is there a travel spot you REALLY want to visit?
I’m loving staying closer to home these days. I’ve traveled a lot and am happy to be here. I’m drawn to warm climates and would happily return to Belize for some snorkeling, to England and Switzerland to see friends, to Banff and Lake Louise to once again have my eyes and heart stunned by all the beauty.
What do you want people who are not childfree to know about this lifestyle?
We have made clear, well-considered choices, usually much more deeply thought through than the decision to have children. Most of us love kids, and feel we can give to the world through other than a parenting legacy.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Continuing to explore, learn, be curious…especially about the experiencing of aging as a childfree person. I hope to be part of a community of people who are consciously addressing and planning for how to help older people face this third face of life in good care.
I’m also interested in supporting people who are in a similar circumstance as I was in—partnered with someone who did not want to have children– and helping to offer reassurance that it will all be okay. There is no right or wrong. Love comes in so many ways.
Do you want to give a plug for anything?
I absolutely LOVE the Childfree Girls Podcast and have appreciated the way they embrace and explore the lifestyle without excluding those of us who are childless by circumstance.
I’m also a fan of Jody Day and Gateway women who have supported the childless not by choice community.
What is your favorite quote?
“And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? I did. And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.” – Late Fragment (by Raymond Carver)
FREE SPACE – Put anything else that you want to share here!
When I was younger and struggling with my decision about whether to have children or not and facing my own private sadnesses, there was no community. No one to talk it through with, very few childless role models who spoke up about being childfree or childless. I am delighted that the conversation is happening now and that there are resources like the Childfree Family, and the Childfree Conference in July 2021 (and btw, I will be one of the panelists!).