7 A.M., The Young Housewife: Waving good-bye as the school bus pulls away and her husband drives off, she turns to dash through the kitchen and notices a forgotten lunch bag still on the counter. “Always something,” she sighs. That’ll mean a quick trip to school before noon. She slathers peanut butter on a cold piece of toast, slurps up all the milk left in the cereal bowls and heads for the laundry, nearly tripping over the dog. Poor guy, he was only trying to tell her he hadn’t been fed yet. With a bag of smelly dog food in one hand and a bundle of stinky PJs in the other, she pauses a moment to wonder if she should have taken her mother’s advice and gone to business school.
7 A.M., The Mid-Life Matron: Waking from a restful night’s sleep, she plans her day as she heads for the shower. Her morning ritual lasts about an hour and twenty minutes if she takes time for the eyelash curler. Patting the last hennaed hair in place, she prepares a nutritious breakfast of lo-cal, high protein 22 grain cereal with fresh fruit and a Bloody Mary.
7 A.M., The Great-Grandmother: Having fallen asleep only three short hours ago, she turns over in bed, glares at the clock and pulls the covers over her head to drown out the birds chattering outside her window, thinking “If only I could get back to sleep.” Meanwhile, the cat sits patiently on her chest, waiting to be fed.
10 A.M., The Young Housewife: Still making beds and vacuuming, she realizes she forgot to turn on the washer.
10 A.M., The Mid-Life Matron: Fussily fashioning place cards for an upcoming bridge tournament, she finishes off another Bloody Mary and wonders if there is time to run out and place an order for an assortment of frosted gourmet brownies to serve the bridge players tomorrow evening.
10 A.M., The Great-Grandmother: Several brief naps later she gives up on sleep, climbs creakily out of bed and heads for the kitchen. Bleary-eyed, she scoops cat food into the coffee maker, reaches out to turn it on and turns on the TV instead. Getting caught up in a dramatic reality show, she sits down to watch. Frustrated by the “To Be Continued” ending, she shuts it off and looks around for her coffee, wondering why she’s still hungry. And why is the cat so greedy when she just got fed? They did both just eat, didn’t they? She finally gives the cat a little more food just to quiet her down.
12 Noon, The Young Housewife: Dropping the third-grader’s lunch off at school, she learns that she is expected to provide 4 dozen brownies for tomorrow’s Bake Sale. The notice has been at the bottom of a grubby backpack for days. Aware that there is no chocolate in the house for the brownies, she stops at the market long enough to run in and grab a package. 45 minutes later she comes out with 5 bags of groceries and a copy of “How A Busy Homemaker Gets Back Into The Work Force” that she picked up at check-out.
12 Noon, The Mid-Life Matron: Looking forward to a working luncheon with the ladies from her “Voters Anonymous Group United” or “VAGUE,” she changes into her favorite pant suit, checks her makeup, pats her hair, grabs a briefcase and dashes off. Cheek kisses all around, followed by a glass or two of wine and she opens the meeting only to discover she brought her make-up case instead of the briefcase. By now the ladies have all had a second wine and are giggly enough not to care about voters, anonymous or otherwise. The business meeting turns into a discussion about absent members’ make-up; how much each wears, who overdoes it and who needs it most.
12 Noon, The Great-Grandmother: Still puzzling over the unsatisfying breakfast, she brews a cup of coffee, horrified to find it smells and tastes like cat food, and switches to herbal tea. She carefully spreads a layer of peanut butter over a lettuce leaf, adds some baby carrots to a paper plate and, scooping the cat out of her recliner, sits down to lunch. She turns on her TV and gets about 10 minutes into her favorite soap opera before falling into a deep sleep.
3 P.M., The Young Housewife: Stopping at home just long enough to unload the groceries and stuff the wet laundry into the dryer, she hurries back to school to drop the soccer player off at practice, the pianist off for a lesson and the kindergartener home for a play date. By then, the laundry needs folding, and the dog needs walking, then the soccer player and the piano player both need to be picked up. There’s barely time to wonder what to fix for dinner. If she worked in an interesting office, she’d at least get a break about now.
3 P.M., The Mid-Life Matron: The V.A.G.U.E. members lunch on a trendy Mac ‘n Cheese with Bacon, broiled asparagus tips and more wine. This is followed by Irish Coffee for dessert. Another successful luncheon meeting past, another round of cheek kisses and home they go, much merrier than when they arrived.
3 P.M., The Great-Grandmother: Her eyes pop open after another nap, and she still feels hungry. She tears into a box of brownies that she happened to have in the pantry, eats several and dozes off again.
6 P.M., The Young Housewife: “Since Daddy is working late, we can call out for a pizza” she announces cheerfully. “Aw Mom, not again. We had pizza last month.” These have to be the only kids in the universe who hate pizza. Sighing, she reaches for a saucepan, a box of mac ‘n cheese, some bacon and a bunch of asparagus.
6 P.M., The Mid-Life Matron: After the late lunch, dinner is casual. Having placed a large order of frosted brownies for the bridge tournament, she’d been unable to resist picking up an extra dozen for herself. Before she knows it, most of these are gone. As she nibbles, she sips on a tall Gin and Tonic and makes phone calls for the “Friends Of The Orphaned Sea Urchins,” reminding members of the coming fundraiser.
6 P.M., The Great-Grandmother: Waking up from her most recent nap, she realizes it’s almost dinner time. She surveys an array of meals in her freezer, decides on a mac ‘n cheese with bacon and a side of broiled asparagus tips. After eating, she tidies up, then heads for the bedroom to slip into something comfy. Much to her amazement she’d spent the entire day in her robe and slippers! Well, too late to bother changing now.
10 P.M., The Young Housewife: Pulling one last pan of brownies out of the oven, she decides 3d graders won’t care if they’re frosted or not, throws all the pans in the sink and trudges wearily off to bed. Five minutes later the kindergartener needs a drink of water. Ten minutes later the dog needs to go out again. “Would working mothers have all these distractions?” she mutters to herself. Well, of course they would, she knows that. Realizing she already has the most important job she could ever want, she falls into bed and drops off to sleep.
10 P.M., The Mid-Life Matron: She spends 30 minutes in her bathroom applying various facial products to her complexion, exploring anything that even faintly resembles a blemish. Finally satisfied, she makes a strong nightcap, picks up the latest romance novel, and heads for bed and another restful night.
10 P.M., The Great-Grandmother: Asleep in her recliner with the TV blaring away, she suddenly jerks back to reality, grabs one last brownie and totters off to the bathroom. She manages a quick wash and brush, and drags herself off to bed where she tosses and turns until dawn, longing for sleep, forgetting she’d napped all day. The cat snuggles down behind her knees and sleeps soundly.