Starting just after the NotMom Summit in the fall of 2017, my life has been a series of crazy ups and downs. And while I was given the honor of the Childfree Woman of the Year three years ago, I am often reminded of the heartfelt nomination that my friend Cara wrote about me. It included these words:
I can tell you first-hand that how Laura lives her life, the kind of person she is, and her polite and thoughtful activism have made me more aware of the cultural bias against childfree women and staunch ally of those who choose to be childfree. I can’t think of a single person who better exemplifies what it is to be childfree than Laura LaVoie.
And as I get through such a tumultuous year, I can’t help but reflect on these words and hope every day that I live up to them.
Last October, we lost the woman who was effectively my mother-in-law. My partner’s mother struggled a lot as she raised her boys, but never once did he feel that he was unwanted or unloved. Losing her after a long illness was bittersweet. It was the first time in my adult life that I questioned whether I should have had children while she was alive, but as soon as the thought crossed my mind I was reminded of why that wasn’t in the cards for me.
Just after the new year holiday, my partner also reached milestone after a long and difficult process. After deciding to go back to school to finish an undergrad degree he had abandoned in the 90s, he took the LSAT, applied to law school, and was accepted with a prestigious fellowship to Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia.
And with all of the flexibility we have with being a childfree couple, we could plan a move from our beloved city of Asheville, North Carolina, back to bustling Atlanta where we had spent most of our 30s. This time, unlike the last where we were beholden to corporate jobs, we could do Atlanta on our own terms. We rented an apartment in the small downtown of Decatur, just outside the Atlanta city limits. The walkable area is perfect for my self-employed lifestyle, and for how things will change dramatically once Matt begins school.
As soon as we moved, tragedy struck again. Our 17-year-old Sphynx cat, Piglet, finally began to show signs that her geriatric cat age was catching up with her. Just two days after we arrived, we contacted a local vet with the intention of saying goodbye to our fur(less)baby. Piglet, being a stubborn kitty, died at home the next morning before we could even take her to one final, much dreaded, vet visit. So, now we face this next chapter without the comforting purrs and constant presence of a feline friend. We may be ready for a new cat in the future, but not right now.
Every step of the way, I am faced with how my decision not to have children has affected my life. And even now, at 43, when people start assuming I’ll feel regret I am stronger than ever in my conviction. My life would not be possible had I made the decision in my 20s or 30s to have children, and I am not only okay with that reality, I am happy with it. I live my life every day to demonstrate to others that childfree women aren’t stereotypically selfish. I want to be an example in everything I do, from working for myself to being active in my community. That is what being Childfree Woman of the Year meant to me and what I hope others get out of the recognition during International Childfree Day on August 1st.