Maya Bhave


Maya Bhave’s PhD (Loyola University, Chicago) focused on Ethiopian immigrant women. After teaching Sociology at North Park University for ten years, she moved to Vermont where she has explored gender identity for female players in soccer, motherhood and child loss, as well as mothers’ struggle for work/life/family balance. Her most recent book is entitled War and Cleats: Women in Soccer in the United States. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled “Liminal Space: Motherhood, Identity and College-Aged children.” She has taught for many years as an Adjunct professor at Saint Michael’s College, and most recently was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Middlebury College.  

Affiliation: Currently Independent Researcher. Formerly affiliated with Middlebury College and Saint Michaels College.

Recent Publications:


Bhave, Maya. (2019) War and Cleats: Women in Soccer in the United States. Meyer and Meyer Sport. 


Bhave, Maya E. (2021). 20/20 Vision. In Andrea O’Reilly and Fiona Joy Green (Eds.).  In Mothers, Mothering, and Covid-19:Dispatches from a Pandemic. (p.181-183). Demeter Press.  

Book Chapter:

Bhave, Maya E. (2017). The Ambiguous space of Motherhood: The Experience of Stillbirth. In Emma Lind and Angie Deveau (Eds.)  Interrogating Reproductive Loss. (p.76-90). Demeter Press. 


In a significant rite of passage every year millions of college-aged children head off to university. Research is plentiful on how these young adults navigate this process, yet little is written on the mothers, who are left behind after 18 intense years of parenting. Drawing from in-depth qualitative interviews with 23 mothers (to date, still doing more interviews), from across the United States, this study describes how mothers adapt to this major life change, and more specifically the concept of “Matrelinqual,” that is what shifts and modulates in their maternal thinking with this major life transition. Drawing upon detailed social life histories, these data show that mothers’ social roles move from being intense, private, micro-level managers to more relaxed familial advocates. As such their roles shift from having tight managerial control in exchange for nuanced friendships with their children, a new ability for mothers to reclaim space for themselves, as well as new forms of social behavior that involve restraint as a new, and unique, nuanced form of maternal control via social media.  Such findings shed light not only the inner workings of mothers’ thinking but also speak to the broader need for more research on the permanence of maternal thinking, which continues to exist long after our kids are no longer nearby. 
Keywords: Motherhood, Empty nest syndrome, Adult Children, Maternal thinking

Reflections on Matrelinqual Identity: How mothers conceptualize the loss of proximate mothering

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