Perceptions of Motherhood: Ideologies, Expectations and Experiences of Older Mothers in the Suburbs of North Arlington County, Virginia




Munson, Anne Marie

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This thesis describes perceptions of women in the suburbs of North Arlington County, Virginia, who chose to become a mother after the age of 35. It discusses how women who are older mothers view themselves and their identities in the context of the larger community of mothers in a white, upper-class community in North Arlington County, Virginia. This research explores the notion that socioeconomic indicators such as age, education, financial security, and social class structure a woman’s positioning in the social space in which the cultivation of specific mothering communities take place. While similarities in mothering practices exist, the concept of age as a defining role in the formation of distinctive motherhood groups within the realm of common ground is observed and explored. It is often within these communities that mothers develop a sense of maternal identity—one that is influenced by socially-driven norms and values as well as individual and personalized practice. Unique characteristics of older motherhood are considered to understand the ways in which practice is shaped. These include career choices, financial security, planning for retirement and college funding simultaneously, caring for elderly or aging parents.



Motherhood, Identity, Mothering ideology, Older mothers, Mother communities, Mothering practices