What was once a convenience is now considered a necessity. Has the introduction of technology changed the role of the housewife Though technology has altered processes and priorities, and in doing so complicated the life of the homemaker, her central role has changed little in the past 100 years.
Estel is an 82-year-old great grandmother that has lived in the same house since her marriage 60 years ago. She can recall her first refrigerator and how magically it kept food cold without the constant attention of adding ice. The gas range was another miracle addition to her kitchen. Other bits of technology are scattered around her house, mostly unused. A blender, electric grill, and bread maker sit idle waiting for instructions on their intended purpose.
She would probably dispose of them had they not been gifts from well-intentioned family members. With every new baffling gadget, she calls the gift giver, on her dial telephone, to say how much she appreciates it. She has no answering machine, no tortilla press, and has never owned a seal-a-meal. The one high tech device she likes is the microwave oven, but she still can't set the clock after a power failure. Her meals are slow cooked, the old-fashioned way and even the simplest dish is reminiscent of a family gathering around the dinner table.
Janet Janet is Estel's daughter and to compare the two you would think that Janet is the Bill Gates of gadgetry. Her house has vacuum outlets in every room powered by a central unit in the basement. Of course she has the requisite cell phone with all the latest phone features. Her stove is a new induction style without burners that produces almost no heat on its own. In the corner is an often-used cappuccino-making machine. On the deck is a gas grill the size of a small car with a remote control and an alarm that pages you when the food is done. I wondered how it knew that I liked my steak medium rare
Of course all these time saving devices come with a price. Janet works full time at a professional job that can be quite demanding. As she hurries home from work, she spends most of her evening trying to figure out which gadget to play with and countless hours searching for the long lost instruction booklet. For parents with children at home, the cost of time saving technology may be too great. In her book, "It Takes A Village," Hillary Rodham Clinton observes that "unhurried time", that meaningful moment of undivided attention is what children need most from their parents (Gardner 13).
The third generation housewife, Melodee, grew up with her mother Janet's love of technical wizardry. Yet, she has taken it to a whole new level. Melodee can hear her newborn twins breathing from any room in the house. She orders her groceries online and watches her house from work. She has a microprocessor controlled, fourteen-day programmable coffee maker. She starts her car from her kitchen. Yet, the closest I've ever seen Melodee approach cooking was to heat a precooked dinner in the microwave. Without that microwave oven I'm sure her and her husband would both starve. However, it may take them weeks to know it as they are so busy with the kids, work, and text messaging that they rarely see one another.
When you see Estel, Janet, and Melodee together, you realize that they are three