Jillian has the seemingly perfect suburban life with a supportive husband and a cute toddler that she gets to stay home with. But underneath the facade, she’s dying. Slowly withering away trying to keep up the perfect-wife-and-mother act. She can’t help but think what her world would be like if she had stayed with her ex-boyfriend, Jack, instead of leaving him behind seven years ago. And then she gets her chance to find out.
This book followed the very predictable path of second-chance books/films, with the main character going back in time and do things over with 20/20 hindsight. Like all second chance plots I’ve seen/read, Jillian of course ends up realizing that she’d rather be with her husband and child than with her ex. She has to work to move back forward in time. There were some surprises with that, but nothing huge.
This was exactly the kind of book I needed right now. Down to earth, homey, feel-good, warm and fuzzy. I was happy with it, though to be completely honest, it probably won’t stick with me on a permanent basis. There was nothing earth shattering or anything. It was just a nice quiet book for me to read.
It did discuss one thing that really struck me on a more personal level, though. One of the things Jillian has a second chance at is getting to know her mother, who abandoned her family when Jillian was nine. There’s a lot of discussion about the sacrifices women tend to make as mothers, and what happens when the pressure becomes too much (because really, isn’t Jillian’s popping back 7 years in the past just as much as an abandonment of her daughter?). Honestly, motherhood and being a stay at home mom is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, especially when my three boys were younger. There have been moments when I’ve been tempted to just leave. Thankfully, I’ve always managed to keep a grip on myself and figure out how to alleviate the pressure in order to stay. But it’s been hard. I know it will keep being hard. I know that I can’t not do things for myself. I can’t try to be the perfect mom. That would just kill me. Some people don’t understand, but that’s simply what I have to do to survive and keep my family in tact, which is what’s most important.
Mothers who abandon their families are always looked on as monsters, but I feel sorry for them because I have stood at that teetering point of decision before. I know how hard it is, and I know it’s not because of any lack of love they have for their children. Abandonment is terrible, and leaves behind terrible consequences, but I personally can’t blame the mother too much. I feel her pain. I wish I knew how to make mothers out there know that they don’t have to sublimate themselves for their children. They don’t have to stop living. They do have to be responsible, of course, but being responsible does not mean being perfect or living up to any particular media-fed, societal, or cultural standard. They do not cease to exist just because the children are born, and if they treat themselves as such, they will slowly be bent down into nonexistence. And that’s bad. Bad bad bad.
But enough. That part of the book struck a personal chord with me, while the rest was just cozy. I don’t regret reading it. It was exactly what I was looking for.