So if you are between the ages of 20 and 44 and still childless, you belong to the group labeled “otherhood.” That’s “motherhood” without the “m.

Something about “other” rubs me the wrong way.

But Melanie Notkin, who coined the term, explains it to us:

Otherhood is living our true authentic life, whether or not that life is the life that we excepted. I think when media and marketers and society begins to talk to us, we have to make sure who is listening, are we listening as a woman who feels less than or as a woman who feels empowered and equal too. When we begin to realize that and know that then society and the media and marketers will believe us. We have to do our part as well. And our part is to find that new kind of happiness, to keep living authentic lives, to keep moving forward, and to literally turn the page to our next challenge.

And she’s written a book about it called “Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness” with chapters titled “The Dating Bermuda Triangle,” “Where Are the Suitable Men?” and “A Date With Destiny.”

Oh, good Lord.

While I agree that the 38 percent of us who fall within childbearing years but haven’t produced said child have the flexibility to travel more, and we can buy more beauty products and more expensive groceries (Wegmans!), I highly doubt all of us consider ourselves insignificant and unhappy, and we’re not sulking because we think the media caters more to the moms in that age bracket.

And we’re surely not scrambling to jump aboard the “otherhood” train. Let’s just accept that we’re childless for now, and every commercial isn’t going to pertain to us. I mean, really, do we want to be included in an ad for mom jeans?


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  • SimplePseudonym

    I think the book is written for a particular type of audience and this is drawing the term out of context. I know many women who are coming to the end of their fertility window and don’t have children b/c they never found a romantic partner to settle down with (and didn’t want to have children without a husband). They would find support and validity in reading a book like this. “Otherhood” is just a (very clever) catchy title, not meant to label all women without children as “others,” but rather give a succinct term to how it feels to be an older woman who always wanted children but was never under circumstances to have them. Women who never wanted children or don’t feel that they have a life void b/c they didn’t have children aren’t the target audience for this book, but the concept of “otherhood” is something that many women struggle with and often have to struggle with alone b/c amongst the liberal pro-feminism circles, admitting that not having children created a certain void or lack of fulfillment is taboo.

    I think the best thing is to have two life plans: one for if you have children and one for if you do not have children so that either way, your life will be fabulous. :)

    • SimplePseudonym

      but starting at age 20 is pretty dramatic- you’re a college junior at that age!

    • chanela

      RIGHT! i thought i was the only one that was like *pause* when i saw that. 20?

  • chanela

    why do the statistics start at 20 though? you can’t even legally drink , yet you have a baby?

  • Chauntelle

    Why do people always have something to say a bout childless women and men? My hubby And I are travelers, living semi stree free lives, we are business owners. I mean, can’t we just live? Damn!!!

  • copelli21

    You know, there are some women, such as myself who are truly happy with their lives without children….and “YET” has nothing to do with it.

    I have known since I was about seven years old that I did not want kids. Not interested at all. No clock ticking. No pressure from my family. My mother told me that she could tell that I meant what I said (I was a willful child :o)

    Anyway, In spite of all these ‘knowing’ people who kept telling me to “just wait…you will change your mind and you’ll have kids”…..guess what? I didn’t. I haven’t. I won’t.

    I know what I want my life to look like and children are not a part of it. I don’t apologize for it. It doesn’t make me less of a woman. It’s not from lack of opportunity or lack of financial means. It’s my choice PERIOD and lawdy be go figure, I am happy with my choice. Would not change it, even if I were given 3 wishes.

    Women need to stop allowing other women and people in general, to define who they are.

    You can choose motherhood to be a part of your womanly experience, but it certainly does not define it.

    “Otherhood” my arse.

  • constance

    I understand exactly what you are saying Honest Maddie. I too am childless and I drift between want to adopt children and worrying that if I did adopt kids how will I raise them on my own, since I am not currently in a relationship. I am 27, but older people have had not problem asking me why I do not have children, as if it is any of there business.

    I think the point you were making, which apparently other people dont get is that yes as a childless woman, sometimes you can feel insecure and as if you’re life is incomplete. And that is what the book is about, how society puts pressure on women to be a mother and the insecurities that can arise when you aren’t.