Those Moments When You Really Wish You Had Kids

Photo by Tara Winstead on

As I was standing tiptoe on the step stool after replacing a light bulb in the office, fighting to hold the glass cover, the metal thing that goes over the hole and the knobby thing you need to screw in to hold it tight, my arms screamed in pain, and I knew that any second I would either fall or drop everything. No wonder my father and my mother-in-law waited for the “kids” to come over when their lights burned out. I’ve had four go this week. I have run out of bulbs. The fixture over the kitchen is hanging crooked because I couldn’t get the metal plate thing back on and gave up. Also, plaster from the ceiling above the fixture was falling into my hair.

I got the office light hung because I had to. I was still in my bathrobe at the time. When I went to get a blouse out of the closet, the sliding door came off its track. It’s wide and heavy, and I have a bad back. It’s sort of in place now, but I’m afraid to touch it. It’s like this all over the house. I’m perfectly willing to pay someone, but finding a reliable handyperson around here is difficult. I have had several. Some were drunk, some were idiots, and some came once to start a job and never returned. Then there’s the guy who hung a door meant for indoor use on my garden shed. In the cold weather it has buckled and swollen to the point I can’t open it. I had to borrow a shovel from my neighbor because all my tools are in there, along with the spare key to the house.

It’s crazy to live in a four-bedroom house alone. I do not want to move into a senior residence like several of my friends have done lately. I just want someone to help me take care of things. Lacking a husband makes it hard, but most women outlive their husbands. I can look back at the women in my family who gutted it out alone. But they all had adult children who helped them, who did everything for them in their very old age. I know, I know, having children is no guarantee they’ll be around to help, but most of the time they are.

The view from my window today is gorgeous. Blue sky behind winter-bare alders and spruce trees. Red deck and railing that I painted myself. A lush green lawn. I love my home. But there’s that door I can’t open. And the kitchen fuse blew for no reason the other night.

I’m a family of one woman and one old dog who follows me around expecting me to take care of everything. Married people who have children soon expand to more and more people. Husband and kids. Grandkids. Great-grandkids. And all of their spouses. So many people. And I’m just one.

The other night in the hot tub—repaired recently at huge cost, and now I wonder if it’s leaking—it occurred to me that if I had had children with my first husband, they would be in their 40s by now, and their children would be in their teens or 20s. There might even be a great-grandchild. If I had had children with Fred, they would be in their mid-30s. And I would not be driving alone to California for Thanksgiving. I’d be spending the holidays with my kids. In a self-pitying fit of depression, I shouted to the world, “I should have had kids! I fucked up!”

And the world said . . . nothing. So I buried myself in work and got over it. If you dwell on these things, you’ll go nuts. The truth is, I didn’t f-up. I never really had the opportunity. End of story.

I should be boosting you up, giving you advice. But this is the 773rd post at the Childless by Marriage blog, and I’m running dry. Please, tell me your stories. Submit a guest post. Share in the comments how you get past those moments when you just can’t stand it, when you might have very logical reasons for being childless, but suddenly none of them make sense. Most of you are much younger than me and are still in the middle of your journey. Tell us about it.

We’ll talk about Thanksgiving next week. Between now and then, you might want to attend Jody Day’s webinar “Reclaiming the Childless Holidays!”  next Saturday. If you can’t attend the live presentation (9 a.m. PST), you can watch the recording later. Register here. I signed up.

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6 thoughts on “Those Moments When You Really Wish You Had Kids

  1. Hi Sue –

    My name is Jenna and I am 38, childless by marriage, and I just want you to know I have found so much solace in your blog posts. I would love to tell my story through a guest post sometime!

    I also want you to know you are not alone. We are all your extended family even though we might not be able to be there physically.

    All my best and happiest holidays,


    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Sue, I can relate to your post. Whilst I am married, and my husband is handy, up until last year my husband and I spent the last ten years helping his parents – he was the handyman, I was their computer-tech etc. I would really struggle to cope if he wasn’t here, and I saw how dependent his very capable parents were in their 80s and 90s. We’re hoping to move into somewhere that is less complicated to care for in the next five or so years, but that might be easier said than done. And I have no relatives living within a seven hour drive. This part of ageing is scary.


  3. Hi Sue. I’m sorry you are feeling such a loss right now. Prayers that the rest of your life will balance this feeling and that you will soon be shining bright. I will think to send you a piece. I’ve been feeling new things that I could probably share.

    Hugs! Anon S


  4. Hi Sue, I’m 46 and also childless by marriage (unless you count non-custodial step-children). I just recently discovered your blog and have been going through it slowly, but it’s so comforting to know that I’m not alone. The thing about step-kids is that I know full well, once my husband is gone, I’ll have no family left at all — the step-kids like me well enough, but steps generally aren’t interested in continuing relationships just with a step-parent who wasn’t in their full-time home. My father died thirty years ago; my mother is unlikely to see 2025; and I expect that my brother will also go before me. He also has no kids, so there aren’t even nieces and nephews.

    Before I got married in 2019, I had days when I wondered if I shouldn’t just disappear since I’ve made no difference in anyone’s life. I still have days like that. I’ve raged at God for not letting me die already, more than once, since there was no purpose for keeping me in this world. I’ve been so angry at the Church for having nothing for people like you and me. None of what you’re going through is unusual, needy or otherwise selfish: it’s normal, and you’re not alone.

    I wish I had magic words for you, but unfortunately I don’t. Know, though, that people are still finding their way to you and that you matter. Sending you virtual hugs and prayers.


    • Catherine, thank you so much for this comment. I will treasure it. I am sorry for all of your losses. I do have one brother, and I keep telling him “you can’t die,” but of course we have no control over these things. Here’s a big virtual hug. (((( ))))


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