Mothers have been sidelined in individualistic accounts of middling migration focusing on youth, mobility, education, and skills. Migrant mothers disturb the narrow socio-economic categorisations that have been central to the concept of middling migration. A matricentric, gender-sensitive and relational approach that centres migrant mothers and understands humans as constituted by their networks of relationships, brings fresh insights. Drawing on interviews with migrant mothers from a range of ethnic communities (including Indian, Malaysian, Swedish, German, Brazilian, and British mothers) living in Sydney and Melbourne, this chapter challenges the prevailing individualistic lens through which middling migration is often theorised.

A matricentric and gender-sensitive approach to decision-making in middling migration calls into question the emphasis on choice and self-determination that underpins the concept of middling migration. This approach also complicates the notion of skilled migration, which renders invisible mothers’ skilled yet unpaid work of reproductive labour and fails to address mothers’ often complex relationship to the paid labour market and to domestic work. A relational perspective facilitates a move beyond ‘middling’ motivations of lifestyle, career or self-development, to consider relational factors such as love, family formation and gendered notions of marital obligation.

The diversity of national, ethnic and professional backgrounds of the mothers in this study facilitates a wide-ranging examination of migrant maternal experiences, focusing on migrant decision-making, paid and unpaid work, and the network capital of mothers’ transnational knowledge networks. In considering the positioning of these migrant mothers as ‘middling’, this chapter reaches beyond standard class indicators of occupation, education and visa category, to consider aspects such as disposition to domestic labour and access to transnational knowledge networks.