Career women are evolutionary dead ends
Earlier this week, a broadsheet newspaper ran a triumphalist piece by a 42-year-old who claimed she was wilfully and joyfully childfree. The writer was one of a growing number of women, she claimed, who believe having it all means not having a baby. I call them the Motherhood Deniers.
To an extent, that writer is right. Unburdened by motherhood and the personal sacrifice it requires, a woman can dedicate herself to her career and create a home with all the delicate ornaments, sumptuous fabrics and hard edges that have no place in a family environment.
Where a decade ago, just one in nine women remained childless at 45 and were considered rather peculiar at that, now that figure is closer to one in four. For women with a university education, like me, that figure rises to 43 per cent - an extraordinary figure which signifies a seismic social change.
Among my friends, relatively ordinary women as opposed to media types, I am not alone in being childless. And there are many more examples in the realms of the super-successful, from Oprah Winfrey and Cameron Diaz to Helen Mirren and Theresa May.
Of 192 female directors among 1,110 FTSE 100 board members, it is estimated that just under half of them are childless.I had an intern recently, a 21-year-old Oxford graduate, who told me confidently she never wanted kids because it would get in the way of her career. I told her she was mad. While a child-free life looks fun on Facebook, no number of career highs, nights at the theatre, weekends away or adult pleasures can disguise the fact that it feels - there is no other word - empty.Between today and the end of my life, I hope there are a few more decades. But, as time goes by, the idea of dying without children feels unnatural and sad.
Then again, while women who don't have kids often flag up how wonderful it is to have so much time on their hands, I can't help noticing it's women with kids who get the most done.
My sister-in-law has written two books, has three kids, and a much bigger home than me. JK Rowling was a single parent, and she's done all right.
The Motherhood Deniers are terribly excited about their friends. None of whom will be able to wipe their own bottoms in 40 years time, let alone those of their chums. And we all know nephews and nieces are not in the business of dedicating their lives to maiden aunts.
I have never met a woman who regretted having children. She surely exists, but not in my experience. I have met, however, older people who lament never having kids, for whatever reason, and I suspect some of the noisy Motherhood Deniers will eventually join their number.
Spengler's Universal Law #16: Small civilizations perish for any number of reasons, but great civilizations die only when they no longer want to live.