Recently I took a short personality test: Which literary character are you?
I’m a reluctant heroine.
Those tests usually are soon forgotten but the result I got from the quiz stuck with me.
A reluctant heroine, that’s exactly how I would describe Sloane Harper, my main character, although I’d never thought of her in these terms before.
She isn’t a superhero. She has no special powers except that of packing a neat diaper bag and making awesome waffles. She had no ambition to become a heroine till life threw a challenge her way.
Much like most moms around me.
The challenges can be small. Make sure the house is running flawlessly, nursing your child back to health while meeting up deadlines for work and feeding a starving husband when he comes home after a long day at the office. Remembering to post that birthday card to your great great aunt on your way to yet another PTA meeting, laundry from the dry cleaner balanced deftly on the top of your head, six inches heels making you sway with each step. Kissing tears from your child’s beloved face in the morning, him clinging at your leg, saying goodbye when you only want to snuggle with him a while longer but work is awaiting and bills won’t get paid magically by themselves.
Tiny challenges, heartbreaking challenges sometimes. Challenges you take on reluctantly because there is no other choice.
Women care, too much sometimes, about everything and everyone, and very rare are those that will shy away from a new challenge if it means improving the lives of those they love. Through all my female characters, I try to capture their selflessness and courage.
Kind, caring, bright, superficial, tough as nails, no matter the sort of women they were before, women tend to be transcended by love and motherhood.
We become life jugglers.
Anyone who’s observed a mother up close can attest to her acrobatic skills.
A husband, the kids, a job, hobbies, a household to run, school clubs, our insecurities, our hopes, time for our loved ones, time for ourselves – They are so many balls we strive to keep up in the air. We fall asleep worried that we’ll drop one, or worst, all.
We wake up each morning with checklists swirling in our mind, breakfast to be cooked, groceries to be bought and doctor appointments. The lists usually run a few decades, sometimes all the way to buying a condo for retirement.
I mean, just two days ago I was planning my daughter’s Bat Mitzva while waiting at the cashier. She’s one, eleven more years to go – no time to waste obviously. Tomorrow I’ll probably pick a dress for her wedding.
Oddly enough, the more we multitask, the better we fare. As superheroes, we need a challenge, we strive on adrenaline and the fear that we’ll let our charges down.
Our life often resemble a circus act.
As reluctant heroines, we never hoped for such responsibilities, we often fear we took on too much. Fortunately, between shear stubbornness and endless love, we manage somehow. Plus, life as a way to work itself out, lending us a much needed hand at times.
This is why I love woman fiction and above all, reluctant heroines’ fiction. They are so much like us. They are us. And amidst the mistakes and clumsiness, these heroines manage to save the day. And start again the next day.
They are real women, lovers, mothers, kick-ass everyday wonder women.