It Never Ends: Mothering Middle-Aged Daughters is a much-needed conversation about the “pleasures, satisfactions, sorrows, and disappointments” of mothering in the later years. This bond, so primal and close to the heart, is rarely explored in non-fiction. It’s challenging for a mother to reveal her authentic experience, but by listening to many mothers, Sandra Butler and Nan Gefen have created a book in which a wide array of mothers can speak frankly to us about the complexities of their relationships. This is a brave book and one that I admire—a book that will help many aging mothers feel less alone and hopefully will lead to more open explorations both in literature and in life.
Second-wave feminists turned motherhood into a subject of great importance. They asked: Will I cease to exist once I am a mother? Is there something I can learn from my own mother?
Now these aging second- wave feminist mothers are asking new questions. Did motherhood change our lives in ways we never imagined? What do we wish we had known before we had daughters? What did we do right and how did we fail?
For every second-wave feminist, this book is a continuation of the consciousness we started in the 1960’s. At the same time, it is an expansive and intimate story for anyone who has been- or intends to be- a mother.
A book to learn from and savor. The complex, nuanced stories of these women’s relationships with their adult daughters over time form the core of this revealing book as the authors probe the mothers’ yearnings for intimacy, issues of distance and alienation, and modes of forgiveness and renewal.
A History of the Jewish Mother and Professor Emerita, Brandeis University.
With It Never Ends, Nan Gefen and Sandra Butler give us a rich, thoughtful, multi-layered look into the ways that mothers experience their relationships with their middle-aged daughters variously with love, joy, fulfillment, sorrow, anguish, and longing. The subject has been far too little addressed, no doubt because of the still pervasive combination of the sexism and ageism, making it all the greater delight to go with them and their interviewees on this warm and clearly-written, sorely-needed exploration of a topic of profound importance.
Associate, DuBois Institute, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research Harvard University.
She is the author of Conspiracy of Silence, The Trauma of Incest (1978) and the co-author of Cancer In Two Voices (1988). Butler is the co-producer of the award-winning documentaries Cancer in Two Voices (1991), and Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House (2005).