In years to come, the answer to, "Do you remember where you were and what you were doing the day you discovered you couldn't have it all?" will be as memorable as your recollection of the war's end or the first time your child turned off a light.

To some women, the moment hits them in the middle of the night when the family is asleep and they're still packing lunches and emptying the dryer. To others, it's an offhand remark from their mothers: "Why don't you get yourself a schedule?"There is only one certainty. The moment will come.

It came a few years ago to Carol Orsborn. The New York Times did a story on the Mill Valley, Calif., woman who "had it all." She enjoyed a successful career that was exhausting her, two children on a treadmill of activities, a husband who worked long hours with her, an upscale house, and a week that was two days longer than her stamina.

Carol Orsborn was unique in that she vowed to drop out of the rat race and rearrange her priorities. I went to California to interview her for "Good Morning America." She had traded her structured aerobic classes to row a boat in nearby Sausalito to "get my head on straight and think about my life."

When she and her husband cut their hours at the office (the Orsborn Public Relations Group in San Francisco), the house in San Rafael with the maid's quarters and the hot tub had to go. Instead of car-pooling the kids to soccer, karate, music lessons, French, gymnastics and Scouting, she spent more time with them. Her husband opted to assume a share of the housekeeping and child raising.

It made a good story, but as I sat in a rowboat with this bright, idea-driven young woman, I had a nagging suspicion about how long this would last. After all, she was young, ambitious and caught up in a generation that fought old age with Oil of Olay, made installment payments on their lives, and planned their families as if they were scheduling a dental appointment.

A couple of weeks ago when she returned my call, I said, "Carol, it's been five years. Are you still rowing a boat in Sausalito?" She laughed, "No." I knew it.

"But everything else is the same. Actually, I'm calling from our vacation. We still live in the same house and have the same priorities. Given a choice between values and success, I still choose values.

"What happened to our agency? It's crazy, but in spite of our spending less time there, business has boomed. We've started to publish a `Life-Driven Business Newsletter' for CEOs, and I've had time to write a book to be published this winter called "Inner Excellence, Rewards of the New Work Ethic."

The Orsborns may not constitute a trend - but they could start a run on rowboats.

991 ERMA BOMBECK