I read a novel last week about an unhappy woman who woke up fifteen years earlier, with a chance to redo her life. She was living with her boyfriend with whom she broke up but always regretted it, and had her career once again firmly in front of her (except with the advance knowledge of how to get ahead.) She was pretty psyched.
This is actually not an uncommon trope in “women’s fiction.” Or as I like to call it, “Books that Are Fun and Easy and Few People Die and No One Questions the Existance of God.” Because I hate the title “women’s fiction.”
(I’m reading J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints for All Occasions right now. It’s an amazing book. But SERIOUSLY GUYS CATHOLICS ARE NOT ALL REPRESSED BADDIES.)
Anyway, I can think of four or five books that I’ve read or skimmed that have pretty much this same plot, with variations of endings. And it always kind of bugs me.
First of all, these women all wake up in their maiden (ha) beds and stretch and realize they don’t have a mom pooch anymore and so DUH IT’S 2005 AND I HAVE A CHANCE TO RESET THE WORLD!!! without any problems understanding this at all.
If I woke up in an unfamiliar bed and thought it was 2005 I would immediately head to the hospital because clearly I had gone insane. But that’s just me.
It’s an attractive idea, isn’t it? Knowing everything you know now, as an old boring adult (always a married mother in these books) and being able to use that wisdom except you have the thighs of a 20-year-old?
I catch myself wondering about this- I think we all do. I can’t imagine only having to worry about myself. To just get things done for me- for my job, for school, for whatever. But just worry about ME. I can’t imagine being as thin and in shape as I did when I first thought I was fat. I can’t imagine my body before it bore a child. I can’t imagine kissing someone who has never seen me give birth. It would be really cool and fun to be able to do that right?
Except…not. In all these books, these women all are married. They all have children.
I am married. I have children. I am overwhelmed and wish I could wear all the size fours in my closet and watch TV whenever I wanted and eat whatever I wanted and spend my money on me and all those other things.
But none of them are as important as my husband. As my children. Sometimes I remember that if I had sat somewhere else the day I met my husband, my son would not exist and another woman would be raising my daughter. I would be thin and cute and probably pretty successful, but would I want that?
I’d much rather have this body and this soul and this relationship where I can only ever be with someone that has watched me push out a child while swearing. I’d much rather have the hugs and the kisses and the headaches and the crankiness and their soft little bodies cuddling in bed with us on Saturday mornings. I’d much rather have the constant nagging worry that I should be eating better, getting more exercise, doing more to volunteer work, teaching them better, have a cleaner house, be more loving and patient and kind and whatever and still get to hear their little voices say prayers I taught them and go to confession with my husband because it’s so important to us. (Not with with him, just at the same time.)
If I woke up in the past with a better body and more money and chances at all sorts of exciting things? I’d do everything I could to get back to here.