The archetype of the maiden, the mother, and the crone as the three places women move through in their lives is a strong one that many of us identify with. The maiden is the girl from the time she starts her period until she starts having sex.  The mother is woman from the time she gets pregnant until she begins menopause.  The crone is the older woman from the time she can no longer reproduce until she dies.  Marking our paths through these transitions points is a meaningful one that can give meaning to our daily lives in ways that can sometimes be overlooked.

However, as times change, we live longer, and reproduce later or not at all, there is a certain need for a fourth category.  Where do the women who are clearly no longer maidens, but have not yet become mothers fit?  They fill a distinct and meaningful place in many of our lives – they are our friends, our sisters, our aunts.  They provide support, love, and community in ways that are different from the mother, but certainly highly worthwhile in and of themselves.

But their life trajectory just doesn’t fit into this archetype in a very supportive way – and so I think it is time to change how we define the archetype.

I am specifically asking because on the website for The Belly Project, my newest on the side fun, we would like to have categories for maidens, mothers, and crones, for easy searching ability.  But that’s going to be hard to do if we can’t figure out an appropriate fourth category.  So, at least for the purposes of The Belly Project website if not the entire archetype, what is a good word to describe these post-maiden, non-mother, pre-crone women?

I wait, breathless, for your input!