“Wow! We really screwed things up for ourselves with this whole ‘Women’s Lib’ thing!!”
That’s what she said.
And I took there, slack-jawed in the kitchen, wanting to argue, but not even knowing where to start. This was my grandmother, a woman who stands tall (metaphorically ;-)) as one of the finest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. A woman who decided in the 1960’s that she wanted to go back to work. And when her husband, who frequently went to Europe on business for 4-6 weeks at a time (and was a traditionalist, to boot) protested, they debated for weeks. The debate ended when she famously told him, “I’m sick of playing bridge and I don’t like shopping. I’m bored. I can either get a job or a psychiatrist.” …and went back to work. This woman served during WWII, raised 3 children and buried 2 of them and still, on the day of her daughter’s funeral, had the wisdom and fortitude to hold me and tell me that, “Life has never been fair…but it IS beautiful. Please…don’t forget that.” This is a woman I have loved and looked up to my entire life.
And she apparently thought women’s lib was a bad idea.
I should’ve had a little more faith. Because after a beat or two she said, “we told them ‘I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan’. We should’ve said OR!”
Does anyone else remember that ad campaign? “I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. And never let you forget you’re a man!” Did anyone think that through? I think that translates into: I’ll make money, take care of everything at home AND make sure you feel good! Thats a pretty big list. Maybe we could’ve thrown an ‘or’ in there somewhere…;-)
It’s decades later and women are, in fact, rocking it. Bacon, pans, men. All the things. By all accounts, women are earning more degrees than ever before, breaking into traditionally male-dominated fields in unprecedented numbers and earning more than ever. And children are still managing to be born and grow and thrive.
Do you know what else we’re busy doing? Berating ourselves for not being perfect.
A few weeks ago, I had coffee with some friends. These women are, I’m pretty sure, what many younger women aspire to be. Bright, Funny, Educated, Beautiful – both by virtue of genetics and because of their kindness. Conversation traveled and, before long, it came to exercise. Most are devotees, but one of the women shared that she doesn’t exercise…and she feels guilty about it every day. Why? Because she knows that she “should”.
WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL?
She has managed to find a way to bring home the bacon AND fry it up in the pan…(I don’t know about that last part, but he always seems to be smiling, so…) and now somehow…that’s still not enough. I’m not saying that exercise isn’t important. I’m saying that everything is important. And, if you can’t quite manage to do absolutely everything perfectly all at the same time….well, that’s only because you’re human.
So just in case you find yourself a little overwhelmed…remember the ‘or’…because Grandma thought we really missed the boat on that one, and I think she may have a point. We can do anything…but we cannot do everything. And we definitely can’t do it all at once.