Both women run counter to what their friends, families and society consider to be normal. Both are childless and have a scene in which they are told by someone close to them that they are pregnant. Neither takes it well. Suttie is in a motorway service station when her best friends/ housemates tell her that they are having a baby. She reacts by cramming a whole tube of Rolos into her mouth, cracking a joke, mumbling “Well done” through a gob-full of caramel and then running into the sea, naked and alone. “I was aware that I should be pleased for them but my heart was plunging deep down into my trainers, and no amount of Rolos could stop it,” she writes in the opening chapter. When Amy’s sister tells her she is pregnant in Trainwreck
, Amy manages an “Ugh” before starting an argument. Her sister finally loses her rag, yelling: “I’m not a crazy person because I got married and had children. That’s what people do.”
Well, not everyone – as Isy and Amy know. They represent a growing sector of society who have not quite got round to growing up, or what that has traditionally meant. Unshackled by mortgages and children, they flit around the margins of adulthood like Peter Pan in an American Apparel crop-top. Turning 30 no longer means turning into an adult: we are buying houses later, marrying later and having children later. If we do any of those things at all.
In 2013, over 3.3 million adults aged 20 to 34 in the UK were still living with their parents
. The age at which people buy their first home has risen
from 28 in 1995 to over 30 in 2015. In the late 1960s, 76% of brides were under 25, in 2012, it was 14%, according to the Office for National Statistics
. The average age at which people marry in the UK is now 33 for men, 30 for women, while the average age of motherhood
is now 30. The list goes on.
The reasons for this are myriad, but increasing equality for women, a post-Baby Boomers economy and an impossible housing market are at the forefront. In November 2015 The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) published a report
on why women are putting off having children. The top three reasons cited by women under 40 for waiting were wanting to be in the right relationship, to be financially secure and to own their own home; a lot of the women said they were concerned about combining work with childcare.
“The rise in the age of first-time motherhood reflects so many positive developments in women’s lives – access to higher education, the ability to progress in a chosen career, all backed up by being able to control their fertility through contraception and abortion,” said Clare Murphy of BPAS. “These gains should be celebrated. People take the decision to have a child extremely seriously, and for the majority of women, finding the right person to do that with and ensuring that a child is being brought into a situation of financial stability is what matters most.”