Through The Eyes of Women: Mothering Middle-Aged Daughters

Dec 19, 2017

Writer and activist Sandra Butler
Credit Irene Young

Sandra Butler posted  the following words in More and Less—Older mothers with more time yet less contact with middle-aged daughters in Psychology Today:

“I no longer call my daughter, but instead wait to hear from her. That way, I’m certain that she has both the inclination and time to visit. That way, I protect myself against the fear of hearing even the slight hesitation as she adjusts and juggles whatever it was she was planning to do at the moment the phone rang. I don’t trust my spontaneous impulse just to hear her voice but instead send a text or email with a brief update or asking when she has time to talk. It’s a messy, complicated, never-ending business being a mother. I’m often caught between wanting more of my daughter’s time and not wanting to be seen as demanding or needy by the child I love and miss. And now, for the first time, I wonder about the ways my mother must have missed me. I remember how I fit her into my life when things were slow at work and I could get away to visit for a few days. I never thought about the possibility that she was waiting and hoping for the time I would be free. I never pictured her hearing the phone ring and hoping it was me. I never noticed that she never asked when I would be coming to see her. The same ways I’m careful not to ask now.”  *** Then she, along with Nan Fink Gefen, opened up a much needed conversation with a wide array of aging mothers about the challenges and adaptations that have emerged over the lifespan of their relationships with their daughters, now middle-aged. “Women speak out openly about the heartaches & satisfactions of mothering midlife daughters, revealing the difficult issues that arise, the ongoing effects of the past on the present, and the varied and often invisible ways in which they continue mothering. Some struggle with sorrow and guilt about what is missing from their relationships, while others accept the inevitable limitations, forgive themselves and their daughters for mistakes made, and grow to a deeper appreciation of the love that exists.”

  With honesty & courage, the mothers describe their dance, their rhythm, their contrasting & expanding relationships and the challenges & satisfactions with their daughters. At the end of “It Never Ends” are questions for discussion, where readers are encouraged to share their responses, stories and relflections with others and by contacting Sandra and Nan.