Diary of a parson’s wife
As Mothering Sunday approaches, Polly Zipperlen contemplates the perils of Turning Into Your Mother
When I was 15, I was an avid reader of Just-17, THE magazine of the day for teenage girls. A popular feature was the quiz, whereby your future could be reliably predicted by answering a few trivial questions. In one particular issue, the focus was the likelihood that readers might morph into their mothers. This all depended on an arbitrary score, where answers were selected by multiple choice. I obviously assumed that I would have a low score, meaning that I was undoubtedly a baby delivered by a stork. As you will have guessed, my score predicted that I was 97% my mother, and I would inevitably become a near-clone!
Ridiculous as this sounds, ever since ‘the Quiz’ I have made periodic efforts to avoid the inevitable. This mainly involves industrious sociability and positivity, my mum being more Eeyore than Tigger. I acknowledge, I am at an advantage here – I have Jesus in my life, whom my Mum rejected 50 years ago upon the wisp of a derogatory comment made by a vicar.
But I have just turned 47, my mum’s age when I met my husband, and I find I am more frequently my mother than I care to admit. Staring agog at teenage fashions, wearing the same jumper all week, tying a loose bun in my hair, rather than brushing it, and ignoring the growing cloud of dust under the settee.
Before writing this article, I asked my mum how she felt she had turned into her mother. She immediately quoted untidiness and a proliferation of unfinished projects. There is no hope for me. As I write I am engulfed by paraphernalia - papers, note-books, sweet-wrappers - and am looking at a jumper I started for my niece’s second birthday, 20 years ago. But my mum also has some amazing qualities, to which I endeavour to aspire. She has always opened her door to strangers; a family fleeing war-torn Zimbabwe, a neighbour whose husband had left, a mentally-ill cousin, a lost American tourist, among others.
So as we approach Mothering Sunday, I will pray for all women around the world who give so much to God’s work, knowingly or otherwise, and pray for Jesus’ presence and love in their lives.
And just so that you know, I have actually brushed my hair this week, but the dust-cloud remains.