Madison Avenue was more than happy to oblige, bombarding us with iconic images of what women were now expected to be:
I think I saw that slogan in one form or another at least 5 times a week. I remember attending a free concert in Central Park where sexy women in Jordache jeans handed us free packs of Virginia Slims. Heaven help us all.
Even my traditionalist mother, who had never worked a day outside the home, was caught up in it. “What an amazing time to be a young woman,” she’d say. “You can be anything you want.”
I swallowed it hook, line and sinker. More. More. Add on more. Give me a full-time job, hobbies, aerobic exercise classes, marriage, babies. I can do it all!
Until one day, I looked like this.
It wasn’t until about 5 years after my mother died, after Anne was born, that I started realizing some important things:
- I’d been deluded.
- There was a reason my mother went into the garden and dug in the dirt for her sanity.
- I could find her there.
- Doing less might just be more.
Slowly, slowly, I learned to say “no.” No more committees. No more workshops. “I can’t do that for you right now.” It took me over a decade, and even then, Dave will tell you that I still do too much twenty years later.
I hope that our daughters are finding a better work-life balance than we were able to have. They certainly have role models from those of us who wised up. As my contemporary, Oprah Winfrey now says: