I’m turning into my mother. I keep noticing it, sometimes in ways that no one else would see, except possibly my sister. I just caught myself at it, scuttling down to the greenhouse in the rain; I was hurrying with just her gait. When I get my purse out to pay for something in a shop and then pause to put the change away and then fumble to shut my bag, I’m starting to do it as she did.
Will other women recognise the anxiety I feel at this? At the age I am now, I don’t mind being like her at the same age (to an extent). But I don’t want to turn into the person she became in her 70s. I’m not suggesting that she became an unpleasant person, but she did become an unhappy one and, as she fought against the aging process that she dreaded, it became impossible for her to keep the events of life in perspective. I do not blame her at all, she had an illness that was, for a long time, undiagnosed and, as she became increasingly agitated that she was not being taken seriously by the medical profession, she was all the more labelled as attention-seeking; which she was not. But she was not canny about it; she was an idealist whereas I’m a pragmatist and I know how to give those in authority the answers they want, so I really don’t believe I would fall into the same situations she did.
At present, and for some time, my main consolation has been that, as a family, we are not particularly long-lived and so maybe I, and my children, will be spared my increasingly unreasonable behaviour. That seems a bit negative, but I don’t see another way round it. “Cheer up” people say if they see one looking anxious “It might never happen” – “ oh good, you mean I might die first?” seems an inappropriate response. Especially if you were actually just a little pensive and not unhappy or worried at all at the time.
Oscar Wilde wrote “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.” There is no need to take these words too seriously, he was a man who spoke and wrote for effect and this was a line in a play in any case, but there is enough truth in them to give many women pause for thought.