by James Glazebrook
International Childfree Day is all about celebrating childfree people, so my wife Zoe Noble and I are beyond excited to see Dolly Parton finally getting her flowers. After six decades of sublime singing and songwriting, Dolly has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, heralded as “a living legend and a paragon of female empowerment”.
The ever-quotable Parton once said, “It’s a good thing I was born a girl, otherwise I’d be a drag queen.” So, maybe more importantly for Parton, the girls of Ru Paul’s Drag Race recently hit the runway for a Night of 1000 Dollies and performed an unforgettable lip-sync! She’s also had a lot to say about art, altruism and being unapologetically yourself. Here are our favourite Dolly Parton quotes that empower us to live our best childfree lives, every day:
“I didn’t have children because I believed that God didn’t mean for me to have kids so everybody’s kids could be mine.”
Born in a one-room cabin on the banks of the Little Pigeon River, Tennessee, Dolly grew up “dirt poor”, the fourth of twelve siblings. A child prodigy who pulled herself out of poverty, she’s since spent considerable time and money fostering the future generations. Through her Imagination Library, she gifts over a million free books to children all over the world, every single month. And she’s inspired other childfree folks to find ways to have an impact on other people’s children, as just one way of finding fulfilment.
“Everything would have changed. I probably wouldn’t have been a star.”
As with many of us, Dolly’s childfree journey hasn’t been straightforward. She always assumed she’d have children of her own, but never prioritised being a mother – she had plenty of other things to do! Since having a partial hysterectomy to treat her endometriosis, Parton’s taken time to reflect on what could have been, and she has absolutely no regrets about how her life turned out. If she’d had kids to look after, imagine the looks, laughs and lyrics we might have missed out on! Of course, parenting is an important and demanding job… but who else could write “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” in ONE DAY???
“He’s always loved who I was, and I loved who he was, and we never tried to change each other.”
Having their own formula to marital bliss, Dolly’s husband Carl Dean shuns the spotlight, content to quietly count his blessings as a retired former owner of a road-paving business who managed to marry an actual angel. Carl delights his wife with spontaneous surprises, writes her romantic poems, and most importantly, supports her while she thrives as the best dang Dolly she can be!
“Find out who you are then do it on purpose.”
This is everything. Dolly fought long and hard to be respected for who she is and has always been unapologetically herself. She speaks to the very core of what We are Childfree stands for – people reflecting on who they are and what they want, making conscious choices that are right for them, and going on to live authentic, fulfilling lives of their own creation.
So, do it like Dolly! We see you, hear you, and celebrate your childfree life. Do you know a childfree person or group you’d like the world to know about and celebrate? Nominate him/her/them for the Childfree Person or Group of the Year!
James Glazebrook is married to Zoë Noble, the founder of We are Childfree, the 2021 Childfree Group of the Year. He provides project support for We are Childfree, which offers portraits, podcasts and an online community that empower living authentic childfree lives.