THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Reconciling Careers and Motherhood in the 1980s by Molly McKaughan

THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Reconciling Careers and Motherhood in the 1980s

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Career women reveal what it's like to delay the childbearing decision until the late 20s and beyond--and how motherhood has affected their lives, their careers, their relationships. McKaughan (a former senior editor of New York magazine) distills the experiences of nearly 5,000 women who responded to a long questionnaire she ran in Working Woman magazine, 103 of whom she interviewed further. They detail their reasons for delaying childbearing and explain why most of those who had intended to remain childless had changed their minds or were having second thoughts. Many had difficulties conceiving late in their reproductive lives, and some failed. Those who succeeded describe their handling of pregnancy and work, the reactions of their bosses, the amount of their maternity leaves (frequently skimpy), their deliveries, and their reactions to motherhood. They confirm that juggling children and work (87% opted for full-time) is difficult and frequently exhausting. This was especially true for the surprising 20% of older single mothers (half of whom had been artificially inseminated). Those who can afford fulltime nannies have a relatively easier time than those who use sitters, day-care facilities, or a frequently changing pastiche of arrangements. Throughout, McKaughan cites recent studies on the demographics of marriage, fertility trends, child development, etc. to help interpret and provide a framework for what the women--an unusually articulate bunch--are telling us. Despite a tendency for cutesy subheads (""Babies, Love 'Em or Leave 'Em?,"" ""The Monthly Concerto"") McKaughan has made a serious and important contribution to the sociological literature on that relatively new and ubiquitous phenomenon: the career mother.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1987
Publisher: Doubleday