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

By Milica Z. Bookman | Go to book overview

Chapter 11
Individual Benefits: Personal Fulfillment and Goal Achievement

Elise Troy was an accomplished multitasker, I knew it the moment I walked into her home. There were so many visible signs of ongoing projects and tasks simultaneously performed without a hint of stress. Elise had gotten up from her desk to greet me at the door and had left evidence of bills partially completed and envelopes as yet to be stamped. The living room sofa and armchairs were covered with strips of sample upholstery awaiting her choice and decision. The dining room table was barely visible under copies of matted 12 × 16 enlargements of photographs she had taken (and developed) of her son's sports team, one for each boy in the picture. A journal where she documents her thoughts and feelings lay on the coffee table for excerpts to be read to me. The housekeeper went about her business, flowing silently from room to room, obviously well versed in her duties; the yardman's mower buzzed outside the window; I pushed the tape recorder closer and probed deep into Elise's past. She seemed completely unfazed by the number of ongoing activities. Her cool energy permeated the room and her ability to keep numerous balls in the air simultaneously was obvious. I was duly impressed.

But it was Elise's genuine happiness that made the greatest impression on me. She was happy with a vengeance. She admitted that it took her a long time to achieve happiness and now that she has it, she wasn't letting go. Elise described her past, a seemingly distant past in which she was frustrated, tired, snappy, and unhappy. At that time, she tried to be a good attorney, a good mother, a good homemaker, and a good wife, all at once. "I was frustrated because I tried to do everything and so I couldn't do anything. The more I tried, the more I failed. I'm a perfectionist, yet I found myself being a mediocre lawyer, a mediocre wife, and a mediocre mother. I was tired all the time, I was under a lot of stress and as a result, my disposition was not very pleasant. I was unhappy because in my self-evaluation, I was giving myself a C in

-179-

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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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