There was a famous commercial of a woman all made up, dancing to this music and a woman’s voice singing:

I can bring home the bacon

Fry it up in a pan

And never ever let you forget you’re a ma-a-a-n…

And at first glance it seems very empowering, to see this woman who can do so much, but over the years I’ve gotten to thinking if our mothers, who single tasked, whose clear job it was to stay home and raise the children, didn’t have it better in some ways.

Yes, there was a lot of physical toil. My mom tells me of times when she had to be up till 11 pm washing diapers that she’d soaked all day so she could ring them out and they’d dry by morning or else she’d have nothing to put my little brother or sister in.

But I sometimes wonder if many women don’t work just as hard today.

When my kids were young, not only did I take care of my own four kids (including twins) I babysat up to eight more because my husband’s income didn’t stretch as far as we needed, and all the while I was doing that, I had this crazy dream that I might one day become an author.

And now that my dreams have come true, my kids are grown and I can enjoy my grandchildren, don’t I work just as hard? Only now it’s more mental work and mental fatigue.

And I’ve realized something. There’s no way I’d bother if the stories I feel need to be told, were already out there.

Sometimes I think how much fun it would be to just sit back and read my stories, not having had to do the work to write them! (I know that sounds a tad arrogant but please forgive me.)

I get the pleasure of reading other people’s stories, but what if I could just go along for the ride of my stories without having expended all the sweat and effort involved in producing that ride?

Oh wouldn’t that be grand!

All the women I see, seem to have been seduced by Oprah to go out and find their passion, to ‘fulfill’ themselves. Even while she often assures the audience that motherhood is the hardest job in the world.

Our society gives motherhood lip service.

But in reality, we don’t value motherhood. And mothers know it. Which is why they’re so busy multi-tasking, distracting themselves, when they need to focus more on getting a few things done right.

I’m not saying you can’t have dreams. Not at all.

That would be completely hypocritical of me.

But I did decide a long time ago that there are a few priorities in my life and everything else is optional.

Getting a big fancy house was optional.

Getting a nice fancy car was definitely optional!

Same for fancy designer label stuff! Optional!

Keeping a spotless house was desirable, but sometimes unattainable. Instead I kept it reasonably clean and tidy.

Same with spotless kids.

But taking time to guide and nurture those kids, was NOT optional.

Cooking nutritious meals to maintain health was a priority.

Starving myself so that I’m a size ten was NOT!

Exercising regularly to maintain health is also a priority.

Having vitamins is a priority (even though they’re expensive–I’ve seen both my mother and mother in law lose teeth and bone strength through lack of calcium so I was determined to learn from their lesson.)

Training to meet some kind of unrealistic fitness regimen IS NOT!

All you women who might be reading this, I will give you the same advice I give my daughters, and try my best to live up to myself. Life itself is a marathon, it is not a sprint.

Find a balance.

Find what is most important to you, and focus on that.

Do not distract yourself.

You cannot be all and have it all. It is just not possible.

Because you cannot do justice to all aspects of life, at most you will have a superficial existence. A jack of all trades and master of none, kind of scenario.

There are too many women like that out there right now!

Invest in your children.

They need you.

Invest in your family, you need them.

And don’t forget to invest in yourself.

But have balance.

And never, ever, ever, try to live up to other people’s standards.

Set your own and stay true to them.