"You Make Me Feel Like My Life Is Over!": Tele/visions of Contemporary Postmaternal Women
The purpose of this thesis is to promote a more holistic understanding of motherhood that acknowledges the temporary and shifting nature of maternal roles and practices longitudinally by including greater analysis of the experiences and perceptions of mothers of adult children in scholarship. While feminist scholars who study motherhood generally only confront mainstream U.S. cultural ideologies of sexism that seek to cast all women into mothering roles, this thesis seeks to also confront how this ideology of essential motherhood carries certain ageist underpinnings that interfere with women's abilities to adjust their maternal practices as their children age into adulthood. This thesis illustrates this point through an analysis of how mothers of adult children are depicted in the television shows Brothers and Sisters, Gilmore Girls, Everybody Loves Raymond, and George Lopez. It argues that mothers of adult children in these television shows continue to be affected, if not constrained, by the ideology of essential motherhood, even after their children are grown.