Sandra Butler

Book cover: It Never Ends - Mothering Middle-Aged Daughters, by Sandra Butler and Nan Fink Gefen

“An important personal perspective on women’s lives . . .”
–Kirkus Reviews

“A brave book and one that I admire.”
–Ellen Bass, author

Being a mother is rarely easy. Being an aging mother with a middle-aged daughter presents its own complexities, challenges and rewards. As women age, their relationships shift and change in complex and often demanding ways requiring an inevitable recalibration of authority, autonomy and independence.


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.

— Ellen Bass is the author most recently of Like a Beggar (Copper Canyon) and the coauthor of The Courage to Heal (HarperCollins).

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.

— Ruth RosenThe World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America

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.

— Joyce Antler, author of You Never Call! You Never Write!:
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.

— Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D., is author of THE NEW Don’t Blame Mother: Mending the Mother-Daughter Relationship and an
Associate, DuBois Institute, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research Harvard University.


Sandra Butler is a writer and activist living in the Bay Area.

Her new book  It Never Ends: Mothering Middle-Aged Daughters, was recently published in October 2017. Click here to learn more.

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).

Contact Sandra Butler »