The Third Career: Revisiting the Home vs. Work Choice in Middle Age

By Milica Z. Bookman | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
The Redefinition of Leisure

I must have touched upon a sore point when I asked Amanda Adams to describe her leisure activities. "People think that just because homemakers are not employed, they sit around all day eating bonbons and watching soap operas. I'm a homemaker but that's so far from my reality! While I do eat candy, as you can probably tell, and I do occasionally watch a soap opera, my days are so busy and so full that I'm hard pressed to describe any leisure activities whatsoever." With this indignant introduction, Amanda took me on an odyssey through her typical day. By the end of her story, I was overcome by empathetic exhaustion although I had not moved one inch from my tape recorder.

Amanda is the mother of a nine-year-old child. She had her son late in life, after numerous unsuccessful attempts. She left her career of 15 years as a computer programmer in order to be a full-time mom. Despite the success and recognition she had attained in her field, she left her job very easily. She knew that she couldn't manage being the sort of worker she wanted to be and the sort of mother she hoped to be, so she made a choice. She chose to have what she thought would be an unhurried existence with unfettered time for her family, in the absence of the stresses and pressures that she was so familiar with in the workplace. Now, as a full time homemaker, she finds herself dealing with time commitments and management issues while performing juggling acts, just like she did before. She is moving at the same vertiginous speed as she did when she was employed.

Amanda's day begins with a jump out of bed. She has a lot to do and she gets moving right away, no point in wasting time. She gets up by 6:00 A.M. in order to read the newspaper and have coffee with her husband before their son wakes up. She then helps John Jr. prepare for school and either drives his carpool or waves goodbye to him at the doorstep. By 8:30 she has tidied up the house and possibly even squeezed in a phone call or two. If she has no pressing commitment, she takes a half hour for exercise--either walking in the neighborhood or, if she has early morning calls to make, then on the treadmill (where she can perform two tasks simultaneously). By 9:30 she has showered, dressed,

-63-

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The Third Career: Revisiting the Home vs. Work Choice in Middle Age
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Part I REALITIES xix
  • Chapter 1: The Profile of Middle-Aged Women with Choices 1
  • Chapter 2: Evolving Expectations of Women with Choices 17
  • Part II INCENTIVES 43
  • Chapter 3 the Transformation of Aspirations 45
  • Notes 60
  • Chapter 4: The Redefinition of Leisure 63
  • Chapter 5: The Reevaluation of Volunteer Work 79
  • Part III CONDITIONS 89
  • Chapter 7: The Accommodating Work Environment 101
  • Part IV CAPACITIES 119
  • Chapter 8: Advantages to Be Harnessed 121
  • Chapter 9: Obstacles to Be Overcome 137
  • Part V BENEFITS 155
  • Chapter 10 Social Benefits: the Economic Contribution of Women with Choices 157
  • Notes 177
  • Chapter 11: Individual Benefits 179
  • Appendix I Method 189
  • Notes 192
  • Appendix II Empirical Overview: Women with Choices in America and in the Sample 193
  • Notes 197
  • Appendix III The Survey 199
  • Selected Bibliography 211
  • Index 215
  • About the Author 219
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