With each of these, there can be a literal definition as well as a more figurative. Maiden can mean a child, a woman not yet experienced in love, or a woman whose nature is naturally fresh and innocent. A Crone could be a withered old woman living off-grid (and I know a few women who would love nothing better), or someone who has come in to her years - young or old - with grace and wisdom. Mother can literally mean a woman who has given birth to another human, or it could mean a woman who is nurturing, caring, and holds a space for those in need.
At 41, I think I can say I am now firmly attached to this transitional decade for women. Many friends who had kids early on are finding them nearly grown, if not having kids of their own. We are, for the first time, facing the fact that our ability to have children is coming to its end. While we are far from Crones, a great many of us are finding ourselves transitioning out of Motherhood and into Queendom.
Growing up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, older traditions still reigned supreme. Moms stayed at home or had part-time jobs once the kids made it to first grade (a full day of school). Dads worked outside of the home. You graduated high school, you got married, you had kids. After I graduated college and struck out on my own, every time I went back to visit I would get asked by locals "so, are you married? Do you have kids?" Family knew better than to ask those questions, and always stood by my choices. No matter who I talked to, I always left feeling like I was a failure because I wasn't married or had kids. But then I would go home and do what I wanted when I wanted and spend my extra money on vacations and I didn't feel so bad.
I watched friend after friend get divorced and it solidified my choice to hold out for someone who was going to Stick Around. I only wanted to get married once, you see. And I wasn't going to have a baby unless the Dad was going to be there. Those were the choices I made. Of course, I thought I'd find someone before now. That there would still be time for children. But when you wait for Quality, sometimes there has to be a sacrifice.
I have finally found someone who fills my heart beyond my comprehension. It still floors me how overwhelmed with love I become in his presence. He brings me joy, laughter (so much laughter), love... I could write for days. It was a personal choice of his long before he met me not to have children. And while I did not consciously make that choice, you don't get to 41 childless without having made some decisions along the way.
But I do not consider myself any less of a mother. My chosen second career allows me to be caring and nurturing to others who desperately need a little TLC. And then there is this:
I am a mother... to three furbabies whom I love very much. I feed them, I give them affection, I play with them, I go to the vet with them. I get frustrated by their antics. And I make their Dad clean up the barf and poo.
A few years ago, I went to a wonderful tarot reader for some advice. At the very end, just as I was losing hope, she drew the final card; the one that said to me - in no uncertain terms - "Family." This may not have been the conventional family I thought of when she drew the card, but this is definitely the perfect family for me and I would not trade it for anything in any world.
Whenever Best Guy tells Buddy to go see Momma, he comes to me. Which is all my heart needs.