The other week, an old friend arrived at our house for dinner.
She is a feisty Oxford graduate who was once beautiful, but she was wearing a skirt that was way too tight - because she had filled out - and she hadn't bothered to redo her highlights.
My heart sank when I saw her because I realised that here was yet another clever, pretty woman who had chosen to sacrifice herself and her marriage to motherhood.
Why is it that when so many women become mothers they turn into boring frumps with one-track conversational minds that rarely stray from the oh- so fascinating subjects of nurseries, nappies and (lactating) nipples.
These women infuriate me. They think they are doing what's best for their children when, really, they are committing the worst form of self-neglect, and insulting their marriage into the bargain.
Most of the women who think having a child entitles them to become unattractive, undesirable and uninteresting are, inevitably, British.
Somehow, women in the rest of the Western world manage to maintain their weight and minds while raising happy children.
And they are also more likely to keep their husbands.
When I had the first of my two sons 15 years ago, I could have abandoned the gym and hairdresser, opted for baggy clothes and ceased to have adult conversations, boring my husband rigid with baby talk.
But I was sensible enough to know this would be the road to disaster.
I instinctively knew it would be better to wait for him to come home for dinner than to succumb to the temptation to eat with the children at 6pm.
Yes, it is hard work to maintain your looks and interests when you have small children, but it is something women just have to do.
At a time when divorce is on the rise and families are breaking up, it seems even more important for women to --consider their other halves.
Men have a profound interest in their own children, but they also have adult sexual human urges - women ignore them at their peril. When a woman puts her child first, she is making a choice.
For every mother with greasy hair and a flabby bum (even though she can afford gym membership) who has lost interest in herself and the world, there is a husband ready to go on the prowl.
WHY DO men sleep with their secretaries? Because they really do want to talk about work.
Children are part of a family. But they are not the family. They are not an excuse to drop standards. Women who prefer the company of children need to ask : 'What am I avoiding?'
They are avoiding life and opting out of adulthood.
Yes, children need stimulating, but they are not entertainment. Nor are they an excuse to let yourself go.
Happy mothers groom! Show me a slob and I'll show you a depressed mother. Recently, a male writer suggested that something resembling a lobotomy happens to even the smartest of women when they reproduce.
He complained that his wife, who once performed in a competitive arena, dressed to kill and kept in shape - who even liked sex now and then - morphed into a frumpy, middle-aged, asexual, insanely dull woman after having their first baby.
These complaints were met with an avalanche of vitriol.
Criticise a mother and you might as well thwack a defenceless, sick animal with a baseball bat for the reaction you can expect.
Trouble is, you might just have a point.
I have many girlfriends who started life in the fast lane, got degrees, landed big jobs and great men, got pregnant - and then it all went pear-shaped.
Many never lost the baby fat (they didn't try). The slinky underwear and heels never came out of the wardrobe again.
And husbands who had to work twice as hard so their wives could pursue a full-time career in babies could not even look forward to having dinner with their wives.
The women had started eating with the children and then (to make the babies sleep), some even got into bed with them.
It came as a huge shock when their husbands started to stay away or, in some cases, found someone who would stay up past 8.30pm.
I remember the point ten years ago at which children became a cult.
Women started going to pre-natal, toddler, organic baking, yoga and parenting classes.
If you were in the sect, you had no shortage of friends, but anyone who suggested there might be a whole (normal) world outside (including me) got shot down.
Men just cowered and complained (to each other).
But when women give everything to their children, they lose part of themselves. The truth is - and no one will admit this - that men dread talking to these sorts of women, let alone be married to one. My husband is one of them.
Adults gather together in the evenings to discuss grown-up things.
Though our children are a huge part of our lives, they are an intimate and private part - and should remain that way. In my parents' day, women were expected to join in conversations about politics and literature (they could talk babies afterwards with the other women).
Mothers today consider children a topic that must be discussed at all times and in all places.
I call it narcissism. When a mother talks to me about her children beyond the polite five minutes - unless it is for important reasons - I consider it insulting.
Women bond through intimacy. The new school of sloppy mothers aren't sharing: they're bragging.
They're saying we have no time to brush our teeth or comb our hair because we have such an important job. We're better than you. Sorry, but how is it that European women manage to raise non-violent, happy, confident children and still look fantastic?
I recently went to a retreat called the Hoffman Process where no one was allowed to discuss their real identity. For seven days we didn't utter a word about our children.
We had to start conversations based on our life experiences, ideas and feelings. I left knowing these people better than some female acquaintances of 20 years.
Many women use children as a shield to keep other people from getting too close. It looks benign because the subject (babies) is cuddly, but it's almost a hostile act.
I also know women who only discuss children with their husbands to avoid dealing with the real relationship they have.
Children are not oblivious to being used as an excuse for not getting on with other things.
We live in a society where children are pushed to the brink in a host of ways.
Meanwhile, their mothers check out of normal adult society altogether.
Living through someone else is a psychological illness, not a badge of honour.