Initially, when reading this book, the author and main character, Gretchen, come across very Pollyanna. Ultra normal, controlling, unrealistic, helicopter parent, the kind of mother that carries bandaids and polysporin everywhere, alone with PB&J sammies with the crusts cut off in her bag of infinite wonders. This was the Gretchen that came across in the novel, at least at the start. As I read on, she does start to seem more real than at the start. She yells, she gets fed up with her kids, she doesnt always follow through on her various tasks. This brought her closer to me as a reader, instead of putting herself on a pedestal with a picturesque lifestyle and family where nothing ever goes awry.
As Gretchen began to feel closer as a character, her happiness project did as well. I realized that my dislike for Gretchen at the start was not making me any happier with myself and my own life, and while I later felt closer to her when I saw her various flaws, without those flaws I had no reason not to like her either. So why did I? What about her at the beginning - as a picture perfect mother and person - threatened me to the point of disliking her? Why did I even care? It’s not like I even knew this woman, or that she had any effect on my life whatsoever. I read on…
I found that, in short, she wasn’t the cause of my dislike for her, I was just projecting my own unhappiness with my various flaws and insecurities onto her since she seemed so perfect at the start. She seemed to have everything figured out that I struggled with. She was a super woman at all the things I sucked at. But resenting the author of this novel for finding her own happiness was not adding to my own.
So, through a relatively unconventional response to this novel, my distaste for Gretchen caused some sort of self reflection that helped me to stop comparing my life and my self to others. I have to make myself happy through my own accomplishments, and by learning to like Gretchen, I learned to like myself a little more too.