Those Moments When You Really Wish You Had Kids

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

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. https://bit.ly/3wVam9p I signed up.

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A lego in the dirt

I found a red Lego toy piece in the yard yesterday. It’s a small plastic rectangle, its holes crusted with dirt. Where did it come from? My life with Fred has never included Legos, although I have played with them in doctors’ waiting rooms and other people’s houses. I have always liked toys with which you could build things. But how did a Lego get here? We haven’t even had any young children visit us in the 11 years Fred and I have owned this house. Our house is surrounded by trees, no other house close enough for toys to wander our way.

The only answer is that the dogs dug up a piece of history from the family that lived here before, the Fends. They had four children, two sons and two daughters. Big pictures of them hung on the living room walls. Their oldest daughter was living on her own. The younger daughter, high school age, had cerebral palsy. We met her crawling from her bedroom into the hallway the day we took our second look at the house.

The room I use as my office belonged to the boys, who slept in bunk beds and left color crayon marks on the walls. While the older boy worked at his computer, the younger boy showed me his craft projects sitting on the windowsill. Now the walls have been repainted, the windows replaced, and the closet turned into a file room. My desk, shelves and writing paraphernalia fill the room where the boys used to sleep.

The Fends fell on hard times and had to leave the house that was probably the only home their children had known. Now it is a home where all signs of children have been erased. Souvenirs from our travels and our collections of ruby glass and shot glasses decorate the living room and den. It is definitely not a childproof house. But why bother? Children don’t come here.

I don’t want to throw the Lego piece away. It’s as if I have found one piece, and now I need to find the puzzle to which it belongs. I think that’s how it always is with childless women. Something is missing. We’ve got one lost Lego and we don’t know what to do with it.