Next month I will be speaking on a panel at the first ever, on this planet, or any other, NotMom Summit.
Below is a little teaser.
THE NOTMOM INTERVIEW: DANI ALPERT OF ‘THE GIRLFRIEND MOM’
Childless and childfree women come in lots of shapes and sizes. We are all colors, all cultures, and all ages. As much as we have in common, we are also very different. Some people say it is strange to define ourselves by things that we are not, and so, with the ‘Mom” label out of the way, we share the many other components that make us who we are.
In this series, TheNotMom writer and childfree blogger Laura LaVoie interviews women without children with public voices who answer the question, “If you’re not a Mom, then what are you?”
Dani Alpert is a writer, Pilates instructor and sometime performer in New York City who shares personal stories on her site called The Girlfriend Mom. We are excited that Dani will be speaking at The NotMom Summit in October. She has identified an entirely new category of women that many NotMoms can relate to, those who can answer the question, in the dating world, what happens if you fall in love with someone who already has children?
Tell us about yourself, your blog, and your career.
I’m a writer, and a Pilates instructor. I was living in LA and working in the entertainment business, but after 16 years I had had enough. I spent time traveling and when I landed back in NYC, that’s when I became a Pilates instructor.
I started The Girlfriend Mom blog in 2011. I had been dating a divorced father of two, and I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. The blog was an outlet for me. It was a place to rant and rave about my new lifestyle choice, and the struggles that I was having.
I like that you differentiate yourself with the title “girlfriend mom” because “step-mom” would be too real. What makes it different for you?
I didn’t know what to call myself. I wasn’t married, so “step-mom” didn’t resonate, especially the “Mom” part. But I was also more than just a girlfriend. Putting the two together made sense to me. When I described my role, I literally was a Girlfriend Mom.
The lines get blurred when you’re not married. Roles are not clearly defined and it’s more difficult to describe yourself; to yourself and to others. For me, Girlfriend Mom didn’t have the gravitas that step-mom carried, and I thought it was funny.
What kind of relationship do you have with your boyfriend’s kids?
I met the kids when they were 13 and 8 years old. They’re now 21 and 16. We always got along, and there was always respect and kindness. They embraced, and accepted me, from day one. I was lucky in that way, but I also never thought it would be any other way. I was quite naive when we met each other.
Although their father and I are no longer together, I have a strong relationship with both of the kids. We’ve had to make a lot of adjustments, and it’s been challenging and at times heartbreaking but I broke up with their father not with them, and maintaining the relationships was very important to me.
Do you believe that women without children are treated differently by others?
I can only speak to my own experiences, and except for the occasional, “Are you having kids?” or “Do you have any children?” I was never treated differently. I have many friends who are childfree, so I never felt alone, or different.
What made you want to participate in our upcoming event, The NotMom Summit?
Since I started writing as The Girlfriend Mom, I’ve heard from other women in the same, or similar, situations. I felt that I could be of service at the conference and assist others who are navigating this type of relationship.
I’ve heard other childfree-by-choice women say that step-moms (and girlfriend moms) haven’t actually chosen a life that is child-free. What do you think of this position, and why do you think so many people get invested in this subject?
I don’t spend a lot of time reading, or paying attention to what others say, especially concerning this topic. It’s loaded and fraught with negative opinions and it often pits women against one other.
Who’s writing these rules anyway? Why are women telling other women that they can’t be called childfree-by-choice? Is there a CBC police? People should not assume that they know another person’s situation, or how they define their Childfree by Choice status.
I chose to be childfree, which for me meant not having biological children. I also did not turn and run when my lover turned out to be a father of two. Please read lover, like luva. You can’t legislate who you fall in love with.
For me, being in love was the priority. I decided to deal with the kid part of the show, and see how I felt, and to see if I could make it work. I had never dated a man with kids and I wanted to see how it would unfold. It was not always easy, but it was the right choice for me.
The misconception is that all women who choose to be childfree don’t want any children in their lives. This isn’t the case. There are just as many variables, and factors, surrounding a childfree woman, as there are in relationships in general. There isn’t one way of being childfree.
What message do you want to send other women without children?
Any message for Moms who judge the choices of childfree women?
Please don’t judge. One never knows where life is going to take them. Think before you speak. And keep your eyes on your own paper. Clean up your own backyard before you decided to stroll over into mine.
What about advertisers who seem to completely ignore the market of women without children?
I think it’s still a modern concept, and probably difficult for Madison Avenue to pin us down and characterize us, which may or may not be a bad thing.
To hear more from Dani and other great speakers, come to The NotMom Summit in Cleveland OH on Columbus Day weekend, October 9-10, 2015. We don’t think there’s ever been a conference quite like it. Make history with us!