Mommies, Community and Me, the Non-Mommy

A tweet passed through my stream a few months back that caught my attention. It was from a local blogger to a bunch of other local bloggers about how great it was to meet up with everyone. "Oh," I wondered. "Did I miss an event?" Scrolling through I realized I did... and that I didn't. There was a local meet-up but it was mommies, of which I'm not. "Oh," I thought. "Oh, I wasn't invited to hang out because I'm not a mommy." Such is the life of a non-mommy.*

I know these women and I know that they didn't exclude me intentionally. I know that they were a bunch of moms just getting together to hang out with their kids. I know that if I could ping them and say, "Hey guys, I know I don't have kids or anything but I'd really like you hang out with you guys next time." I know that they'd all say, "Absolutely!" I know they never gave a thought to excluding anyone, it was just a meet up of local moms. How could that be exclusionary, right? I know this but I won't lie -- the unintentional exclusion still stings a little.

I'm not a mother. I'm not, nor have I tried, to have children. Currently we're still saying that we probably won't have children, though we're keeping a foot on that fence. At this point, my non-mommy status is by choice. (At least as far as we know. We've never tried to have children so we're only assuming that we can.)

I've blogged about the fact that I'm child-free by choice. I've blogged about the fact that I'm really not great with children. I've also blogged that I don't hate children and that I'm perfectly fine hanging out with women and their children (though preferably not at Chuck E. Cheese).

I've been the only non-mommy at events. I will watch your kids while you go the bathroom. I'll keep an eye on your kids while they are running around the playground and if they fall while you are at the other end of the park I'll go and check to see if they are ok. I'll hold your baby while you are tending to another child.

I'm a non-mommy, not a child-hater. I'm not going to sit there and "preach" about the benefits of a childless life. No, I'm not going to tell you how you should raise your children. Yes, I will sometimes offer an opinion if it is something you've asked for an opinion on it or for which I have a strong opinion. (I'm pretty darn good with book recommendations for kids, for example.) If you mention something about parenting that you are looking for input on and I've read a blog post about it I may send you the link if you aren't familiar with it. I'm not going to tell you how to live your life any more than I'll let you how expound on how I should live mine.

I know that I can be a bit of a curiosity at times. I know that I am a non-mom who doesn't want to be a mom and yet wants to hang out with moms and sometimes their children. What people sometimes don't see is that I don't necessarily want to hang out with moms; I want to hang out with women. I want to hang out with smart women who are interested in the same things that I do and happen to be active online. These women, and many of my mommyblogging friends, happen to be all those things. They also happen to be mommies. Does that mean we should exclude each other?

I've been told that I don't have the same experiences as these women. I've been asked if there's not a "better" community for me to join. I'm confused.

I'm confused because I've heard many of these women that I know and love (and who are not the ones asking me this) say that they aren't just mommies. They are women. They don't want to be defined solely by the label of "Mommy." They don't drop their friends that don't have kids when they have theirs. Should I not want to be friends with them after they have children? I think if that were the case it would make me a pretty crappy human being.

I don't want to be part of the mommyblogging community, exactly. I want to be part of community of women and mommy or not, we're all women. Whether or not we have children is one part of our lives. Yes, a big part, but mommy or non-mommy is not all that we are. I have good friends that are moms. I have good friends that are not moms. I have good friends that would very much like to be mothers.

It's a fact that cannot be ignored that most women my age either having children or want to have children. If I exclude everyone who fits those two categories from my life there would not be many people left.

I fail to see why I should not participate in the conversation on a mommyblog and if I participate why I should not consider myself a member of that community. I did, once upon a time, say that I wasn't part of the mommyblogging community. Someone quickly corrected me. They reminded me that I support mommybloggers (which is easy as they are pretty awesome), that I participate on their blogs and that I am friends with them. Why wouldn't I consider myself part of their community?

Why indeed. It's not whether or not we have children that forges the connection between us. It's who we are as people and women.

But maybe I'm wrong. Can a childfree women be part of a community of women that have children? Can a blogger without children be part of the mommyblogging community?

*Please note that this is not about these lovely, lovely women who I know would drag me along if I so much as hinted to a glimmer of a thought of not being included. This all comes from this conversation on BlogHer about non-mommies, mommyblogging, and community.