sibilities need to be reviewed and rebalanced. By now we have the experience
to think for ourselves. If we ask ourselves honestly, we see that we knew
which commitments were right for us at each stage. At this time, we can
create a path for the present, finally rejecting stereotypes or conventions if
they don't work in our lives. Personality, family, and national and world
events all become part of our psychological makeup. By implication, this
also means that as the grown-ups, we can shape events which will mold the
children to come.
Midlife is the time to listen to the accumulated experience of women
before us -- their victories and defeats. Whatever used to be the "right" way
to do things, our own voices can guide mindful decisions based on the
realities of our own lives. Yes, there have been contradictions throughout.
These will continue. As May Sarton's writer, Hilary Stevens, says, "The
women who have tried to be men have always lacked something: we have
to rest on Sappho, Jane Austen, Colette . . . , we have to be our selves."18
The quote in the chapter title is from a lecture given by Helen Keller in 1929.
Carl Jung, ( 1971), Marriage as a psychological relationship, in
(Ed.), The portable Jung ( New York: Viking), p. 165. Original work published 1931.
William Chafe, ( 1991), The paradox of change: American women in the twentieth century ( New York: Oxford University Press), p. 152.
Terri Orbuch and
Lindsay Custer, ( 1995), The social context of married
women's work and the impact on black and white husbands, Journal of Marriage
and the Family 57:333-45.
Chafe, Paradox of change, p. 169.
Betty Friedan, ( 1983), The neftminine mystique ( New York: Dell).
Myra MacPherson, ( 1985), Long time passing: Vietnam and the haunted generation ( New York: Doubleday), p. 35.
Paul Light, ( 1988), Baby boomers ( New York: Norton), p. 19.
Her reference is to
Marilyn French 1977 novel, The women's room.
Mary Catherine Bateson, ( 1989), Composing a life ( New York: Plume Press),
Bernice Neugarten and
Nancy Datan, ( 1973), Sociological perspectives on the
life cycle, in
P. B. Baltes and
K. W. Schaie (Eds.), Life span developmental psychology:
Personality and socialization ( New York: Academic Press).
Barbara Reinke, ( 1985), Psychosocial changes as a function of chronological
age, Human Development 28:266-69.
Rosalind Barnett and
Grace Baruch, ( 1978), Women in the middle years: A
critique of research and theory, Psychology of Women Quarterly 3(2):187-98.
U.S. Census Bureau, Martin O'Connell, chief of the bureau's fertility statistics
Datan, Life cycle.