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In response, many of us have carved out our own spaces.
Some find that none of the terms suit them and have crafted their own.
And while life outside the prescribed path can feel like a constant search for a new template, this struggle isn’t just relegated to those without children, those who can’t have them or those who can’t decide.
Increasingly, mothers themselves are expressing the same frustration with the maternal script— namely, how following it often comes at the expense of their own success and happiness.
The numbers are even more dramatic in the United States, where nearly half of all women in their child-bearing years do not have children—that’s the highest number since the 1970s, when organizations such as the US Census Bureau started collecting such data. One 2014 market-research study, led by public-relations firm De Vries Global and Melanie Notkin, author of , surveyed 2,000 women in the US.
It found that 40 percent without children were prioritizing their career; another 34 percent were waiting for the right relationship.