A study of the process of maternal role attainment in three age groups (15 to 19 years, 20 to 29 years, and 30 to 42 years) over the first year of motherhood found that the role attainment behaviors of feelings of love for the baby, gratification in the maternal role, observed maternal behavior, and self-reported ways of handling irritating child behaviors did not show a positive linear increase over the year. Behaviors peaked at 4 months postbirth, but declined at 8 months. Interview data suggested that the challenges of the infant's developmental behaviors at 8 and 12 months contributed to feelings of role incompetency. Although age groups functioned at different levels, their patterns of behaviors over the year did not vary, except for gratification in the role, indicating that the maternal role presented similar challenges for all women. There were no significant differences by maternal age in role strain or self-image as a mother over the year.