Thoughts on the NotMom Summit 2017

Admin’s Log: Stardate 10.10.2017

The emotions are still raw, so it’s hard to get this down in any way that will make sense. I just returned from Cleveland and the NotMom Summit 2017 and I am having hard time processing everything that happened. It was amazing, but that word doesn’t reflect the entirety of the experience. There aren’t words that can.

In reflecting about the NotMom Summit, I couldn’t escape the current news and criticism of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and his unfortunate mistake when addressing a woman reporting on the team. He minimized her experience because she was a woman and all but patted her on the head and sent her on her way. He apologized after his mistake was called to his attention, and maybe it was sincere. Maybe it wasn’t. It’s hard to tell without long term actions to back it up.

I got to thinking about the advice I had been given throughout my childhood and adolescence. The message that “women could be anything they wanted.” The implication that even though we’re not men, we can do things that men can do too. But it is heartbreaking to think that the message we send to young girls is that male is still the default. Much like our culture reinforces that white is also default. And that, for women, so is motherhood.

But the NotMom Summit is trying hard to break that mold. The event demonstrates that women can still be complete and whole women even if they’re not moms. And that’s true for women who chose this life and those who came to it by circumstance. We are whole, we are complete, and we can live fulfilled lives in whatever way we choose.

That womanhood is not just reserved for those who feel like nurturers. Just because I am not a person who nurtures doesn’t mean I am not woman enough.

The NotMom Summit is a unique event. It’s the only event of its kind that bridges the gap between women without children. Some people said we couldn’t do it. Some people said that by Chance and by Choice were too far apart from one another on the spectrum of childlessness for it to possibly work. But we proved them wrong in 2015. And we did it again in 2017.

Now, as I’m connecting with all the new women I met on Facebook, I am thinking of all the ways this feeling can become permanent. Long term cultural changes – perhaps. But also just feeling this sisterhood. Feeling this sense of belonging and connection. How can we keep this going?

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