Monday, 30 June 2014

Bella Forcella - A Grown-Up Blog

Women in their 30s and 40s grew up with "Sex And The City". From when it first hit our TV screens here in the UK back in 1999 to the release of the second movie in 2010, fans have watched Carrie and co move on from quick flings to serious relationships to marriage.

I think it would be fair to say that their glamourous lifestyles don't exactly reflect those of the viewers', but that didn't stop us lusting after Louboutins and throwing back cosmopolitans (see HERE for my take on this SATC staple), while hoping that someday we'd find our very own Mr.Big (or Aidan - you choose).

However I found myself relating very strongly to one of the themes in the second movie - that of Big & Carrie's childfree marriage. 

The fact that "childfree" has just been underlined in red by my auto-spell checker just goes to show how non-integrated this situation is in today's society. There is a subtle distinction between "childfree" and "childless" (note: childless does not get underlined in red!!) and that is choice. Childfree people have chosen not to be parents and childless people have, sadly, not chosen that particular path.

Before I go any further with this post, and as it is a post which is intended to give you a better picture of me and my vision for this blog, a little bit of background is required here. My husband and I do not have children. We tried for 5 years and it then took us a further 2 years to get over the fact that it wasn't going to happen and then move on with our lives. I'd say for the majority of that time we were a childless couple, but from the point where we decided the stop trying, that we weren't going to adopt and that we were going to consciously enjoy our lives without our own children - we became childfree.

Anyway, back to Carrie. The bits of this movie that really hit home for me all occurred in the first hour and a half (I mean, I love SATC, but it was a bit long!!), initially at the wedding where Carrie has to explain to a fan that her and Big won't be having a baby and that it will be "just us two" and later on when in their hotel room where one side Samantha is noisily getting it in with one of the grooms' brother and on the other where Charlotte's child is making a racket: "There Big and I were - somewhere between wild sex and a baby".

My roaring 20s have passed and I'm happily in a settled relationship but there's no baby. I have pretty much come to terms with this, however it seems as though the mass media is yet to catch up.

According to Gateway Women (a support group for childless women - in 5 women are reaching the age of 45 without having had children and there are estimates that for the generation born in the 1970s this may rise to 1 in 4. A quick calculation of all the women I know who are in their 30s and 40s and showed that 42% don't have children, or have children who are aged 20+, (that's 26 women out of 62 - whom I know through work, school, uni, friends of friends, in case you were wondering as to the size and scope of the poll).
That's a large number of women who have to trawl through numerous articles with the heading "Fearne Cotton - She's the DJ who ditched the Rolling Stones for breastfeeding" (yes, Red Magazine - I'm looking at you), "Mariella Frostrup thinks becoming a mother makes you more employable - not less." (Red, again), "Family Friendly Places to Stay" (yup, you guessed it) every time they pick up a lifestyle magazine. 
I'm not "picking-on" Red magazine, as the only lifestyle mag in the UK out there for women in their 30s & 40s it has to strike a balance and address its entire readership, and I am a regular reader, however there seems to be a  general assumption that women of this age are either mothers or intend to be. 
But it's not just the media that have't noticed childfree/less 30 & 40 somethings, neither has the high street. Unlike Ms. Bradshaw, and despite not having children to provide for, sadly most of us do not have oodles of cash to spend on stylish designer clothing. We therefore go shopping feeling far too old to go anywhere near the shops of our younger days (Topshop & River Island) and end up at M&S and Next or with our head in a Boden catalogue. I don't know about you but I want, and am prepared to pay for, something a little more stylish and a little less mumsy than what's on offer. I'm not as skinny as I was in my twenties and even if I was I would still want to dress as a grown-up (hence TS and RI being out!), but my idea of dressing as a grown up does not mean that I want to dress like my mum (who dresses beautifully, by the way, but she's 27 years older than me).
This isn't a "women without children vs. mums" rant (that's what the Daily Mail's for) or the opening shots of a war against parenthood - I just feel that this growing demographic needs more of a voice in today's society and that the Bella Forcella blog will be part of that voice. To quote Gateway Women - we may not be mothers but we’re here, we care, we count & we ROCK!!
I'm not saying that Bella Forcella will be a completely kids-free zone, I have a new niece or nephew on the way which I'm very excited about, but the intention is that this is a grown up blog for Grown Ups. 
Which brings me to my final point, and the essence of my blog. Big explains to Carrie "Every couple has the right to make their own rules. We’re adults without children; we have the luxury to design our life.", and Carrie tells the girls "Big and I are trying to make our own rules. You know, figure out what works for us, as a couple, not what society says should work for us."
Now I'm not suggesting that SATC2 is the perfect manifesto for how to live your life in the modern world, but that the idea that we don't have to conform to what society expects us to do is certainly one that should be explored further.
My husband had a major health scare last year, and that coupled with the realisation that we weren't going to have children made us stop and take a look at our life. It really is too short to be unhappy and things really don't work out as you had planned. 
We're in the process of finishing the renovation of our gorgeous 4 bedroom (family) house and then will sell up, free ourselves of a mortgage and live in our tiny but perfectly formed city centre flat so that we can fulfil all of our travel dreams and pursue adventures in business and who-knows-what! We're going to make our own rules and live an exciting an happy life - the bella vita. I hope you'll join me on our journey.
I'd be really interested to hear your thought on the issues I've raised in this post. Do you feel that women without children are marginalised in society? What are the "new rules" that you're living by? Should there be a SATC3?


  1. Very interesting topic, and something I think about all the time. I am child-free, but would like them one day (I think, although my mind changes hen I'm surrounded by them), but love my life without. I have learnt never to make life plans, they rarely pan out the way you want! I planned to be married with three children by now, and guess what? I'm not married and I have no children, but I'm very happy. The last 2-3 years have taught should never ever assume that women (and men) want a child, you never know what their situation is. They might be childfree or they might be childless. I absolutely hate it when people say to newlyweds...' so are you going to have a family soon?' There is no set path in life, and sometimes it's more exciting to go off piste.

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Roseann. It's great that you're enjoying life as it is and aren't expecting children to "fill a gap" (as I think I was). By some miracle it might still happen for me (but I'm certainly not banking on it!), however if it does it will certainly be a different experience than it would have been a few years ago (less obsessed "mummy", more "it has to fit around me").

      Thank you also for touching on something I forgot to put in the post - I hate it when someone asks if you have a family, meaning "do you have kids?". I don't have children but I DO have a family - a husband, mum, dad, sisters, brother, niece and nephews.

      It's good to know that there's company "off piste"! xxx

  2. Beautifully and perfectly written Mrs F. It sounds like you and Mr F have an amazing future ahead of you making your own rules and living life to the full. Much love and keep blogging, I love reading your posts :)
    Ps I must check out that cocktail tip!!

    1. Thank you, Janine! It's taken a while to get here but I'm excited about what's in store for us :-) I also love seeing all your photos from your travel adventures!!

      Take care and make sure you whip up a Cosmo for yourself, pronto!!

      Lots of love xxx

  3. Excellent blog Rachel. As you know I am a late starter myself due to situation (or lack thereof!) . Others have fertility issues, a partner who doesn't want children, or a whole host of other reasons. Society's expectations of people and their production of children is one thing the assumption everyone wants to and indeed that everyone can have kids needs visiting. I hope your blog makes people question themselves BEFORE they ask people the question - who knows what they might be going through?
    More important, I wish yourself and the Mr some fantastic adventures and hope we can share some of them xxxx

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, Jo. We're looking forward to some Forcella / Salter-Davison adventure collaborations!!