Happy Mothering Sunday on this wonderfully sunny spring day to all mothers, grannies and great grannies, young and old.
Remembering of course that soon as one becomes a parent, one automatically moves into the ranks of ‘the older generation’, however young one feels or might actually be in years.
After all, what does age matter? Old age is what others attribute to you, not necessarily at all how you feel inside.
I was thinking about this as I was peeling some rather outwardly wizened parsnips for Sunday lunch today. Once peeled they looked fresh and moist which no doubt is how they would feel, could they tell us. They did taste good, anyway.
Which leads to some random thoughts about old age… Perhaps those of us who may almost, in a certain light, ever so slightly resemble a wizened parsnip may actually still be very young at heart. My father, who remained very ‘young’ almost to the end, used to say that inside he always felt 27 even at 90+.
I remember him telling us that his grandmother, Grace, at 49 had been a terrifying presence to him as a young boy. He remembered her as dressed in black and sitting in a corner looking very forbidding. Of course I never met her, but Grace’s diary written in 1856 when she was 16 reveals her to be the most vivacious and interesting person. Surely she can’t really have changed that much, maybe she just felt that as the family matriarch she must appear respectable, dignified and grown up.
We feel the need less now, fortunately. And mostly, I find, one’s friends and children’s friends accept one as an equal, hopefully not as a terrifying old crone, with age only being significant when reminiscing or comparing life events.
Friends and relations apart, some dress shops can make one feel very old and out of place; some of you may remember my problems looking on the internet for a suitable outfit for a mother of the bridegroom. All the styles were modelled on what looked like anorexic pre-teens.
And magazines, even respectable ones like Good Housekeeping, will airbrush photos of older celebrities, be they Twiggy, Helen Mirren, Mary Berry…
Finally, back, briefly, to Mothering Sunday, and a memory that will certainly age me. When we were young, Mothering Sunday wasn’t the big commercialised ‘Mother’s Day’ that it has become now. It was important to us as (boarding) schoolgirls though. We were ‘reminded’to think about our mothers, and told how half way through Lent servant girls were allowed their one day off a year, to take a cake to their mothers.
Our nuns told us that in light of the precedent set by this relaxation of Lenten rules we could have a day off from whatever we had given up for Lent. Most of us usually gave up sweets, astutely saving our very meagre weekly sweet order from Haddon & Sly in Bulawayo, in order to binge the whole lot firstly on Mothering Sunday and then on Easter Sunday. We obviously hadn’t quite grasped the principle of giving things up.
These days our children are much more outwardly loving and appreciative and probably rather less likely to be giving up sweets for Lent. We so enjoy their company, and love the fact that we can enjoy such a relaxed and happy relationship with their friends, many of whom as young parents have already long since joined the ranks of the ‘older’ generation.