This autoethnography represents the first author’s journey as a mother and doctoral student researching mothers’ experiences in contending with the demands of work and family. Reading across different pockets of empirical motherhood literature (work-family conflict, contemporary motherhood, maternal gatekeeping, and intensive motherhood) I became troubled by how women’s realities were reflected. Pushing back against traditional methods that endorse separating my researcher identity from my maternal self, I draw on autoethnographic method to dialogue with this literature. This approach empowers me to speak out as a novice scholar uncomfortable with aspects of literature, while also navigating training in the use of traditional methods that often provide a directive to separate academic and personal identities. Importantly, doing so enables me to identify powerful insights about limitations in the literature, and how specific pockets of research can adversely affect the broader motherhood literature.


autoethnography, contemporary motherhood, intensive motherhood, maternal gatekeeping, work-family conflict

Author Bio(s)

Maya Autret, Ph.D., is a researcher, writer, and teacher with a passionate focus on motherhood, feminist theory, women’s studies, and autoethnography. email: ma2410@columbia.edu

Brad van Eeden-Moorefield, Ph.D., is a professor and associate department chair for Social Justice Initiatives in the Department of Family Science and Human Development at Montclair State University. His research is situated in a social justice space and focuses on strengthening diverse families. He also is committed to scholarship that brings researchers and practitioners together to collaboratively develop culturally responsive and evidence-based practices. email: vaneedenmobr@montclair.edu

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.







To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.