What Would You Change If You Could?

I have been watching a show on Amazon Prime called “Being Erica.” It’s about a young woman who meets this charismatic therapist who makes her write a list of all the things she regrets in her life and then sends her back in time to redo those parts of her life. Most of the time it doesn’t work out the way she thought it would, but it’s always fun to watch.

Erica is 32 years old, single and childless, and not doing well with her career. In the episode I watched last night, she throws a baby shower for her best friend but finds she is clueless about babies, and her friends don’t include her in that part of their lives. She does not get chosen to be godmother, which she really wanted, because she has never been a mom. Her friends think she should be happy being “wacky Aunt Erica.” Sound familiar?

In that same episode, Erica is sent back to her bat mizvah, a Jewish coming-of-age rite. Although she looks 13, she knows she’s 32, single and childless, but nobody else does. Her mother sits her down to talk about her future, which will of course include marriage and children. What if that doesn’t happen, Erica asks. What if I’m 32 and still single without children? Oh, don’t think such terrible thoughts. That will never happen, says her clueless mom. But we know it did. As it did for many of us

Of course, this is part of the stereotype of Jewish mothers, but in my generation, it was really all mothers. Of course you’re going to get married and have children. You might work a while, but your family will be the most important thing in your life.

Then there’s the book I’m reading by a much older woman, Sue William Silverman. In How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences, a memoir that takes us back to her early years—more time travel—she has no plan to have children. As for husbands, well, she’s had two so far, and I have quite a few pages left to read. But she never saw herself as the motherly type.

Here are two views of women without children and trips into the past to rethink their choices. So far, neither Erica nor Sue has changed the ultimate outcome for anything, only her attitude about it.

What about you? If Erica’s therapist, Dr. Tom, demanded you write a list of regrets, what would be on it? What would you want to go back and change? What would you do differently? Would it be worth it? Something to think about.

For me, everything I think about changing in my past leads to thoughts of what I would have missed, and I don’t think I want to risk that. How about you?

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IMPORTANT NOTICE: As I have mentioned before, I’m putting together a “Best of Childless by Marriage” book from the blog. I am including many of your comments, all anonymous or by first names only. Many of you are better writers than I am. If you have any objection to having those comments in a book, both print and online, please let me know at sufalick@gmail.com, and I will remove them. I don’t want this to be an issue later, so please speak up by the end of June. Thank you. 

8 thoughts on “What Would You Change If You Could?

  1. Sue,
    Where do I start? In reference to having children, I should have married my beautiful Cuban girlfriend when I lived in Miami. A job transfer and promotion came up. Ana (my Cuban girlfriend) wouldn’t leave Miami and I didn’t want to stay. Anyway, I’ve always wondered “What if ?” We’d have gotten married and had children. Sue, she straightened my cocky Redneck behind out. From what I’m given to understand, she never got married. God put the right woman in front of me and I was too stupid to see it.

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  2. I’m not sure about this, as I think we never know how those other roads not taken might have turned out, and things that we love in this world might not have been possible, giving us new things to regret. I think life is a bit of a trade off. What would I have changed? Maybe some of my more recent career decisions, but even then, they were dictated by events and health etc at the time.

    Ultimately, I’d want to go back and change some little things – the things I said (intentionally or unintentionally), or perhaps the things I didn’t say, that hurt people. And I’d eat smaller meals!

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  3. lol. I like Mali’s parting sentence of eating smaller meals. I lost a bunch of weight after my first divorce. No appetite, and I worked out a bunch because I didn’t have anything better to do. It was the only time in my life that my weight matched the government standards for my height. 🙂 I remember quite clearly the meal that put me back on the eating track. It was a glorious combination of chicken and noodles and mashed potatoes. Delicious, but I regret eating that WHOLE meal. lol.
    I’m like you, Sue, I don’t like to play “what if”. I’ve been through a lot, but it all seems to have made sense when I look back at it. Big portions of it anyway. Although, there are a few surprise plot twists that I’m currently counting on God to deliver through on.
    I do regret not investing in good times and friends in my early years. I was expected to work a lot in high school. Plus I always had a boyfriend that I thought I needed to focus on. I missed out on a lot of carefree fun stuff. I sure wish a parent would had said, “No boyfriend for you, Miss! Here’s a $20. Have a blast at the amusement park.”
    I had hoped to break my habits in my middle age, but it’s hard to change. I haven’t give up on me yet though. Some days my husband and I goof around so much that I forget how old I really am. I’m always surprised when the gal at the ice cream place calls me “ma’am”. Or I try on an outfit and see how ridiculous it looks on me. At least I have the dream marriage I always wanted. That is a gift.

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    • I lost weight when I got divorced, too. Ran, ran, ran all the time. You’ve got to do something. I needed parents like that, too. Go have fun? It was more like “stop wasting time.” Oh well.

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  4. I watched Being Erica about ten years or so ago when it was on television here in the UK. I had a bit of a crush on Doctor Tom, ha ha. I found it very poignant at the time, as I was a similar age to Erica and felt like I was looking into a black hole. I used to wonder what I might change if I could. I found myself thinking about it again last night after I read your post and it kept me awake. Nothing in my life is how I want it to be and I have so many regrets.
    I wish I’d left my partner six or twelve months before the time I eventually decided to, when my health let me down and I missed my chance to leave. Actually, I wish we had never met. The guilt crushes me sometimes.
    I wish I’d got the results I needed at school. Then I would have gone to the uni I was ‘supposed’ to go to. I got a C in a subject I needed to get a B in and really should have gotten an A in. It was enough to change the course of my life. I missed the grade because I suffered a family bereavement a couple of months before the exams and lost my focus for a while.
    When I was a student in the wrong town, I caught a virus that left me with CFS/ME. If I’d not been living in that town, then I wouldn’t have caught that virus… but then maybe I’d have been hit by a bus in the town I was supposed to be living in. As Mali said, you can’t ever know if things would have been better had you taken a different path. If you thought about it too much, you’d tie yourself up in knots.
    I do wish I’d set boundaries, thirty years ago. I have always been a doormat. I saw a meme on Facebook last year that said, “Be careful what you tolerate as you are telling people how to treat you”. That really hit home. I had an unhappy childhood due to adults putting their own needs first. Then I lost my health at 19. I’ve never had a full time job, let alone a career. On bad days, my biggest regret is that I was ever born.

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  5. I would have gone to a different college. At the time I kind of half assed my applications and wound up at my safety school, a small mediocre liberal arts college in my home state. I was devasted at the time and I think it’s when my perception of myself changed from smart to failure. I met my husband at the school so it was what directly led to where I am now. I also always wanted to experience living in another part of the country but after college I got a job locally and moved in with husband and just kinda got stuck. If I could go back in time, I’d send out tons of applications to schools all over the county, bigger schools where you have the chance to meet more people. And I wouldn’t place such importance on being in a relationship while in school. I would wait for the right person, even if that meant staying single. Or wait to be in a relationshi when we are both more mature and know what we want.

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