She's having midlife regret over no kids

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: I am a 55-year-old married woman with a very good life, friends and family. I wanted children, but a long list of life events and illnesses led to that not happening. I have learned to live with it, but find that at this age I am particularly saddened by the loss. I watch the children of my friends and siblings graduate, get married and have babies. I joyfully buy gifts and attend their events, but I can't help feeling robbed, left out and lonely. In my heart, I feel I don't have value in the world without my own children, even though my head tells me that's not so. Any ideas for how others have dealt with this?Going Solo

DEAR GOING SOLO: Loss is part of the human condition, and one element of modern life is that we tell ourselves it is possible to bypass grief or loss when actually what we have to do is learn to live with it.

You sound like a balanced person who has faced the reality of childlessness with grace. At the middle stage of life, many realities and regrets take on new resonance, and your burden now is to experience these losses and regrets -- and still choose to live well.

Of course, it is not too late for you and your husband to have children in your life -- through mentoring, fostering, adopting or maintaining close relationships with young friends or family members.

However, raising a child might not put a stopper in that sense of loss you feel. Parenting is not all birthday parties and graduation ceremonies. It does not offer any guarantees for fulfillment. Any parent who is being honest will say that being a parent is much different than they expected, and many parents, while loving their children, have regrets about their own choices.

A book I like that you would find helpful is "Complete Without Kids: An Insider's Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance," by Ellen Walker (2011, Greenleaf Book Group).