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....There are two purposes in life. The first is to serve and worship God. The second is to have children. The first is a test, the second is a duty. There are very, very few accomplishments of historic note that are more important than the latter; for all that we may lament the loss of their genetics to the human race, Newton and Leibniz arguably contributed more to it than nearly any line of descendants have, however long.
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. Statistics do not reveal whether the 43 per cent of educated women who are child-free are so by choice or by circumstance, but I believe the Motherhood Deniers, waving the flag for the childless life, remain in the minority. Admittedly a far more confident, glamorous, and witty minority than they once were, but a minority nonetheless.
For the rest of us, childlessness is a source of sadness and regret. Most of those 43 per cent will have gone through fertility hell, or never met the right guy, or left it too late, or have any number of unhappy stories.
But other than such intellectual sports, whose personal accomplishments can possibly hope to outweigh generations upon generations of accomplishments? Whose career can be said to be so important that it outweighs all the prospective careers of her children, her children's children, and her children's children's children? Especially if one considers women's careers, of which fewer than 100 have ever deemed been worthy of historical note.
Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote: "Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad." And the meaningful work of women is bearing and raising the next generation of the human race. Given that more than 40 percent of educated women have deprived themselves of their reason for existence, it should be no wonder that they have, collectively, gone stark, raving mad.