Facebook Twitter

THE WOMAN WHO HAS IT ALL ISN’T LEFT WITH VERY MUCH

SHARE THE WOMAN WHO HAS IT ALL ISN’T LEFT WITH VERY MUCH

Do I "have it all" yet? I hope so. I'm half-dead.

We're only two years into what I call our Paula Zahn decade, where women are balancing home/husband/children/physical fitness/social conscience - not to mention a cello between our knees - and if I become any more fulfilled, I'm going to have to sleep on fast-forward.It sounded so great when I heard there wasn't anything I, as a woman, couldn't do. "All" sounded so all-encompassing. It's turned out to be the "all" of one-size-fits-all. All of what?

I'm from a generation that remembers what it was like to be bored, shallow, depressed and unfulfilled. After we put our kids on the yellow school bus, we went back to our kitchens, drank coffee and knitted until lunch. Then we'd take a plate of cholesterol and park ourselves in front of the TV and watch "As the World Turns" until 2:30. We'd watch Ralph Nader on "Donahue," so we'd have something meaningful to talk about at dinner. We had an hour to whip through the house, put two cookies on a plate and meet the school bus.

I don't know how I got to be Robo-wife, but it probably started with the peanut-butter commercials that told me I was responsible for the well-being of my children, and the laundry detergent manufacturers who dumped on me, saying my husband would never make it in the corporate world unless his shirts were sparkling white. It was up to me.

And if that didn't put me on guilt overload, I began hearing about what a source of untapped energy and talent I was and that I should volunteer it for the community. I did that. Then someone suggested that I should be paid for all this expertise and get a job. I did that. The slick magazines came along and said, "Why work for someone else? You should be running the company." Running for Congress. Running for your health. Running for the bus. Running . . . running . . . running.

I've been doing it ever since. I iron while I watch TV, shop for groceries at midnight and, if I have something to worry about, I have to do it during my good-time period. There's no quiet time for me anymore, which is the price I pay for "having it all."

I wondered the other day if I could go home again. Was it possible, for just one day, to recapture the suburban slowdown of two decades ago? While I was having coffee, three calls arrived from the East. I picked up a rug I'm needle-pointing and was interrupted by flashes of guilt for things I'd have to do tomorrow if I didn't do them today. Donahue had on transvestites who had been their own prom dates.

It wasn't the same.