Mothering middle-aged women

Sandra Butler,  Age 79

Hello everyone,

As I approach my 80th birthday and move into my next decade of candles, I’m delighted to let you know about my newest book, It Never Ends: Mothering Middle-Aged Women written with close friend and colleague Nan Gefen, and published by She Writes Press.

As mothers enter the last decades of our lives, the historic roles we’ve held with our daughters often shift and change in complicated ways. Now that we are no longer central in caring for them as we once were, many women report experiencing a recalibrating of authority, autonomy, and independence.

It Never Ends is a long overdue exploration of the complex challenges and unexpected rewards of aging mothers in their relationships with their midlife daughters. Based on interviews with women between 65 and 85, we illuminate the complex issues of closeness, distance, longing, and need that arise. Mothers reflect upon the ongoing effects of the past on the present, the cultural, familial, and interpersonal conflicts that remain, and the varied and often invisible ways they continue mothering. The book reveals mothers’ courage as they reflect on the mistakes they’ve made, acknowledge their regrets, and search to come to terms with their relationships as they now are.

I’m delighted to join you on these pages and eager to hear your response, thoughts, questions and ideas about how this conversation can move forward.

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5 Responses to Mothering middle-aged women

  1. Blog Mavens says:

    This book sounds intriguing and useful for so many. I’ve written a blog post about your book on Women At Woodstock, and it’ll be published tomorrow. I’ve also scheduled an email to my list and postings to all of my social media accounts on the same day. Good luck with the sales!

    Ann Voorhees Baker

  2. Blog Mavens says:

    I have retired 4 months ago. Now I have more time then I ever had. I have two daughters, age 39 and 44, I have a 42 year old son. All local, son being the closest in distance. I read your blog on mother and daughters and your new book. It was like you have read my heart. I ordered your book thru kindle books. I started to read it today. I am still in the first chapter, and I can not stop crying. I may not have the same story but I have the same pain. It feels comforting to know I am not alone. When I finish the book I will write you. Thank you so much.

    • Mary Boisvert says:

      After reading your response, think I’ll search that book out. I’m seventy and am still ‘mothering’ two grown daughters, ages 39 and 44. I retired at sixty seven. Seem to have spent the past three years scrutinizing my life and the impact I had on my children and others. Thought I was in a minority, but maybe not? It’s not been a very nice mental journey. Cant call myself a success story. I was a single parent, worked shift hours, and missed a whole lot of their life experiences as a result. For me, so many regrets. But we all have 20/20 hindsight, don’t we?

  3. Dear Jane & Ellen,

    I just heard from Sandra Butler of the 70 Candles group (women aged 70 and over) about her new book, co-authored with Nan Gefen: It Never Ends: Mothering Middle-Aged Women. This is a topic I don’t often see discussed; and as I read Sandra’s description of it, I realize that I could use some wisdom and advice from other older mothers who’ve been walking in my shoes a little longer than I have. I mean, just as when my daughters were growing from newborns to toddlers to girls to young women, I’m winging it. Still. Such is the nature of parenting; it’s perpetual on-the-job training, and then when you think you’ve got some stuff down, the position is eliminated. But you’re then kept as an on-call consultant for any new issues that might arise, for which, again, you have absolutely no background or experience. Hm.

    At least when you get to this stage – my daughters are 30 and 33 – you start to relate to your adult daughters on a woman-to-woman basis. You’re both fully here, with the same capacity of language and, if you’re lucky, compatible life philosophies that make sharing and caring so rich and so deep. In some ways, I feel more intimately involved with my daughters now than I did when they were small. I mean, as they tell me what’s going on in their lives and how they feel, I remember clearly how I felt or what I did in situations similar to theirs. This was not so true when they were little; children’s minds and moods were often a mystery to me.

    Ann Voorhees Baker

  4. Nan Gefen, Age 76

    Five years ago, when I was between writing projects, I had a long conversation with a colleague and close friend, Sandra Butler, about our middle-aged daughters. We’d spoken about them many times before, but as we sat over coffee in a Berkeley café that day, our questions and concerns about where we were in these relationships took on a new urgency.

    We spoke honestly about the mistakes we’d made in the past (and sometimes still made), our regrets and disappointments, and the ways we connected or didn’t connect. Our honesty grew as we revealed our confusion about the major changes that seemed to be taking place: They were revving up, busy in their lives and looking toward the future, while we were winding down. Sometimes we wanted more from them than we felt we could rightfully ask.

    We realized we had entered a new stage of mothering, a stage we didn’t yet understand. “We should write a book about this,” one of us joked. The idea, once planted, took root—and suddenly my question about what to write next was answered. This was a subject that would allow me to work out issues about my own mothering within myself, and I trusted it would lead to greater understanding with my daughters—which it did.

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