Childfree Reflections

With Marcia Drut-Davis
August 5th, 2013 by Marcia Davis

Living Childfree by Choice Weekend Reflections: A Tribute to Ellen Peck

Having just celebrated International Childfree Day, I can’t help but think back to the night when I first read, “The Baby Trap” by Ellen Peck.  That book was my liberation from fear in a time where it was automatically assumed that a young married woman would have children.  Knowing it was OK not to fill the world with mini Marcias…. was priceless.  This was the first time I knew I wasn’t alone. It was the first time I didn’t think I needed intense therapy to find my maternal instinct. Ellen Peck was an important influence in my early life. She still is.  I’d like to introduce you to her.
If you research Ellen Peck on the internet you’ll  find out she was a writer, feminist, and childfree activist.  Isn’t it interesting how succinctly a life can be summarized on Google? Ellen and ShirleyRadl created the National Organization for Non-Parents in 1972 . I met her in 1974  helping with the first national convention of N.O.N. in New York City. Non-Parents Day, which is now our International Childfree Day, was her idea!
Ellen was a strong, dynamic woman. You knew what she wanted, when she wanted it and why. When she spoke, I listened carefully partially because her voice was lower and also because I didn’t want to disappoint her. She had a slight lisp which I liked because I once had the same challenge. Her hair was long, blonde and a bit messy. When she was in a room, people gathered around her because of her wisdom to share things nobody heard of before. The word “pronatalism” was big. I never heard it before and found myself repeating it with pride. She had lists of things she wanted and people she wanted me to see to support the cause of childfreedom. I once found myself in the home of Issac Asimov, the prolific  science fiction writer who even wrote a ditty about me. Although a parent, he applauded the right not to have children.
Ellen had a way of attracting just the right people to support the choice not to parent. It was Ellen who contacted “60 Minutes” for media exposure. She knew that to reach more people, media was the way. I had no idea what impact agreeing to be on that show would have on my life. It was Ellen who strongly suggested I do it. She had a way of making you want to agree with her thoughts!
Ellen was a serious woman. I don’t remember too many times when I heard her laughing or saw her smiling. I think the impact of what this new organization meant to humankind weighed heavily on her heart.
Although we kept in touch for a while, I eventually lost contact with her.However, I have never forgotten what her life meant to me and how her simple words in one book changed my life. She inspired me to write my own book because I know the value of supportive, enlightening words on a page.

Sadly, she died in 1995 from cancer. Now, it’s up to us to continue her dream and make the childfree lifestyle a viable choice

 

 

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