MIDWAY : Late motherhood

There has been a lot of talk recently about motherhood. Well, there’s always a lot of talk about motherhood, but the topic has become so freighted with emotion that no longer are people concerned with how women raise their children, but at what age they have them. The judgment calls are out on the mother even before her baby has progressed beyond the embryonic stage.

I’ve heard many arguments for having children in one’s 20s and early 30s: you’re more fertile; you have more energy; there are fewer health risks; and my personal favourite, you’re more likely to get that flat stomach back.

None of these arguments seem much concerned with what is best for the baby. The only times I have heard this taken into consideration is in a slew of recent studies that found it is better to delay motherhood because older mothers are often better prepared emotionally and financially to provide their children with a more stable upbringing.

Such statements have prompted a backlash, with commentators decrying the encouragement this will give to the hoards of young women who are “insanely”, as one put it, delaying motherhood, assuming that artificial insemination will pick up the pieces later.But the idea that young women are tossing back ecstasy pills and laughing in the face of fading fertility is ridiculous. A woman would have to be a blind and deaf hermit to be unaware of the facts about fertility or to assume that IVF is easy, cheap or guaranteed. As a woman in prime child-bearing age but with no plans to bear children in the immediate future, I have a message for all those Cassandra commentators who claim they’re giving us a wake-up call. Let me assure them, we don’t need it — many of us have long been awake, having a very dark night of the soul.

I know a lot of people who married in their mid-20s and while some of them are still happily together an astonishing number were divorced before they reached 30. Maybe modern society is working against biology on this one but personally — and I say that word with emphasis — I would rather have one child when I’m 39 in a stable relationship than four by the age of 33 without a father present, for the sake of both the offspring and, yes, selfish little ol’ me.