Guest Post by Veronica Martin
Veronica Martin is a Seattle-based lifestyle blogger who likes kitties and dresses with pockets
I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but somehow I found myself being that childfree person who follows mom pages on social media.
It could be that friends tagged me in non-kid funny memes shared on the pages, or maybe it was that back in the day I read a couple of blogs written by moms. I remember when that Elf on the Shelf post written by Jen Mann was all over the place and even though I had never even heard of such a thing as the Elf at the time, she cracked me up and I kept reading her blog and eventually her books. I dig funny women and I especially dig women who are funny in a snarky way.
Anyway, regardless of how it happened, I now follow mom blogs/pages. I’m clearly not their target audience, but being aware of current topics and issues around parenting at least gives me something to talk to my mom friends about. Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, more and more of my friends are either having kids or talking about having kids, and it’s nice to still have something to contribute to the conversation when I’m the only childfree one in a group. And, I’m not going to lie, reading about all of the fears and struggles moms deal with reinforces to me that I’m making an awesome decision for myself by parenting cats and not kids. But the thing that I’ve noticed most prominently as I peruse the comment sections of mom blogs is that it’s a virtual gathering place for people who share similar lifestyles. Those moms find their tribes in the mom blog community, they find solidarity and empathy and a place to rant.
In my experience, being a childfree woman can get pretty lonely. Our numbers are growing, but we’re still in the minority and there’s still a stigma around our decision to not be moms. Reading mom blogs showed me that they have their own tribe, and I need my own too. As much as I love my husband, he can’t really understand what it’s like for me. Right or wrong, guys just don’t get the kind of reaction to being childfree that we women do. If another man happens to ask my husband whether he has children (which does not happen all that often), the conversation seems to go something like this:
“Do you have kids?”
“No, I don’t want any.”
“Cool. Did you see the football game last night?”
I know that being childfree doesn’t make me selfish, uncaring, or incapable of nurturing. But I also know that my friends are starting to move on into mommyhood and one by one I will watch them slip away and our relationships will change. They will call their mom friends before they call me because those people are the ones who understand what their lives are like. And it won’t mean that they don’t value me anymore but it will mean that for the rest of our lives there will be this huge difference in how we live that will set us apart.
And it will mean that I will need my own tribe to talk to so that I don’t feel alone.
And so I recently embarked on a mission to find an online childfree tribe. What I found first were Facebook and Instagram feeds that shared some funny memes and things, which was great, but I was looking more to find an online community. I dug a little further and under the Groups section of Facebook, I found private groups dedicated not just to childfree lifestyles, but ones that got even more specific. I requested and was granted access to a group for childfree wives, and another for childfree cat ladies, and so far being in those groups has been amazing! In finding these women, I’ve found a group of people who are living the same kind of life I live, and who can understand my particular struggles and triumphs. I’m free to gripe in the wives group that I’m exhausted after a long week at work, knowing that no one is going to chime in and tell me they worked all week and chased after their kids. I can coo over the photos of a new kitten in the cat lady group, without anyone being a downer and saying their baby is cuter or somehow else turning the conversation around to kids.
The most important thing I’ve learned from reading mom blogs is that all of us are out here doing the best we can with the life that we’ve chosen and that it’s super important to have people we can relate to and who share our experiences to hold us up. No matter how happy we are or how fulfilling our lives are, there are going to be times when things are hard and being able to reach out to a support system can make all the difference in the world.