It Never Ends


As mothers and daughters age, their relationship shifts and changes in complex and often demanding ways. In It Never Ends: Mothering Middle-Aged Daughters women speak openly about the satisfactions and sorrows of mothering middle-aged daughters and discuss the issues that continue to surface, the ongoing effects of the past on the present, and the varied and often invisible ways they continue mothering.  Mothers acknowledge an inevitable recalibrating of authority, autonomy, and independence now that they no longer are as central in the lives of their daughters as they once were.

In these pages they reveal the courage that comes with aging and their engagement in a time of reckoning: acknowledging past mistakes, forgiving themselves and their daughters, and moving toward a greater acceptance of their connection in all its human imperfection.

Cowritten with Nan Gefen, It Never Ends: Mothering Middle-Aged Daughters is published by She Writes Press and is now available at

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.


Interested in bringing Sandra Butler to give a reading or run a group or workshop?

Watch co-authors in a presentation and group discussion from January 2018:

For more, please visit the publisher’s site at or find the book on Facebook.