Julia Skinner knew from the time she was 7 years old that biological motherhood was not in her cards.
“Having kids was never something that spoke to me,” Skinner, today the founder and director of Root, a community platform for food history and education, said. “It can be a very great path, and I’m glad other people do it, but it was not and is not for me.”
After spending years sitting with this certainty, she decided to move forward with formalizing it in a permanent way: by having her tubes tied. Because she was 30 at the time, she was cautioned by friends that finding a doctor willing to perform a tubal ligation surgery on her would likely prove difficult. Fortunately for her, though, the OB-GYN she went to in Tallahassee, Florida, had also gotten her tubes tied and called the surgery her “best decision ever.” Skinner’s own procedure was scheduled for two months later.
“I had the best and smoothest and most supportive experience,” she recalled. “I remember coming out of the surgery and being in the recovery room and feeling so light and free and happy. I had this whole bodily reaffirmation that I had made the right choice.”
It was a pivotal, powerful moment in Skinner’s life — and one she felt like celebrating.
Knowing the number of women and womb owners who’ve made the same decision (sterilization is, after all, the most widely used form of contraception in the United States), she went online, assuming she’d find the stories of others who’d thrown parties to celebrate their own tubal ligations. She was surprised, then, when her search came up short.
“Lots of people get tubal ligations, so I thought surely someone has had a party like this,” she said. “And yet, there was only one mention I could find online. It was on a conservative mom blog, and the person was saying, ‘One of my single friends invited me to her Not Baby Shower, and I obviously stopped talking to them because why would you celebrate that?’”
Skinner saw plenty to celebrate in achieving total agency over her body — an agency she’d craved since girlhood — and was pretty sure others she knew would feel similarly. Thus, the idea for Not Mother’s Day was born.
Held the day before Mother’s Day, Skinner explained that Not Mother’s Day is a space for women-identifying folks in her community — regardless of their parenting status — to celebrate the non-relational achievements in their lives.
The idea wasn’t to deride the choice to have children, but instead to emphasize that there are other choices women make that are worth celebrating, too. For her first such celebration, she invited fellow childless friends and her mom and grandmother (“they flew out for it and were so excited”), as well as moms in her community to join.
“I invited some of my friends who are moms, too, and I was a little worried about it because I didn’t want to make them feel like this was some judgement on their choice to have children, because it’s not,” Skinner said. “It wound up being really cute, and we played games and hung out and celebrated, and it was just this supportive space.”
Now, Not Mother’s Day remains a yearly tradition in Skinner’s circle, filling a gap that had previously been felt by many.
“We still do Mother’s Day with our families, but then Not Mother’s Day is a space where people, especially those of us who don’t want kids, can celebrate all the cool stuff they’re doing when maybe they didn’t have those spaces to feel validated in otherwise,” she explained. “I’m lucky that I do have those spaces in other parts of my life. But it’s wound up being a cool, empowering thing for my friends who didn’t have those same support structures.”
Ultimately, Skinner said the experience has illustrated just how crucial these types of spaces — and the representation that comes with them — are.
“There’s such a need for creating these intentional, supportive spaces and for finding and building those communities,” she said. “For me, with this one choice I made to tie my tubes and in celebrating that choice, I’ve created space for the life I want to live.”