Random Musings: The bad daughter

“When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.” (Erma Bombeck)

The UK is currently basking in a mini heatwave. It is glorious. All around me women are casting aside their winter boots and snuggly jumpers in favour of linens, colour and shades. I have cast aside my cardigan. Being overweight I do not have the luxury of selecting from the new spring ranges as they are rarely made to sit well on someone of my bulk. Frustrating though this may be I dare not complain. After all, I only have myself to blame for my excess weight.

Next week I will be flying to Belfast to visit my parents. I am not looking forward to it. My mother has been unwell and I have not been across the water since the summer of 2012. I know that a visit is long overdue but I have been putting it off, mainly because of my weight.

The last time I visited I was a UK size 12. Now I am a UK size 16. It took me nine months of severe food limitation and strenuous, daily exercise to get to the size I was then. When my mother saw me she was so happy, delighted that I had become the shape that she thinks a woman should be. She congratulated me on my weight loss with more enthusiasm than she had offered when I graduated from university or gave birth to my babies. She reflected on how pleased my husband must be to have a slim wife. My husband knows me better than to comment on my weight. I am what is inside.

That is not to say that I did not enjoy being slim. It was a revelation to be able to go into clothes shops and easily buy almost any outfit. I had so much more energy, understandable as I no longer had to carry around a 30lb sack of fat wherever I went. The problem was that I could not maintain that weight. As soon as I started to eat more normally or neglected to spend two hours a day at the gym the weight crept back on, slowly but incessantly.

Yes, I now eat too much of the wrong sorts of food but in the early stages of my weight gain I was simply eating what was recommended rather than subsisting on one small meal a day. With a little self discipline I could be less fat but it takes a huge amount of effort to be slim. It takes over my life.

I feel sad that I avoid my mother. I know that she loves me but looks have always been important to her, much more so than they have ever been to me. She wants only what is best for me but as a means to this tries to mould me in her image. I resist as I have always done. She believes that I am being difficult, feels hurt that I will not agree with her point of view. It is easier to stay away.

The easy option is not always the right one. My mother is elderly and has many health problems. It is right that I, as her daughter, make the effort to visit. She is, however, also a worrier. I wonder if seeing me as I am now will trigger ongoing concerns that negate any good that my visit may do. I wonder if her well meaning comments, the inevitable but unasked for advice, will trigger my own anxiety.

In the middle of all this is my sister who, as the only sibling now living nearby, shoulders the burden of care for our parents. She is good to them in a way that I could never be. I am not a good daughter but this does not make me a bad person, just not the person that the family I grew up with wants me to be.

Families are tricky because we care so much; the hurt we can inflict cuts deeper. If I could easily lose the weight for my mother then I would do so. Perhaps this is why I have stayed away for so long. Perhaps I wished to give her that gift and have been avoiding facing up to her reaction to my failure.

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Weight a-gain

So, here we are at the beginning of another new month. Those of you who read my blog regularly may recall that, at the beginning of last month, I decided that I was going to try to lose a bit of weight in preparation for a few events I am looking forward to attending in the coming weeks. You will be pleased to know that I have been successful in my attempts to shift quite a few pounds. Unfortunately I did not manage to lose them, merely to set them aside only for them to find me again. My weight loss has been impressive but my weight gain has countermanded all the good effects. I will not be as svelte in my appearance as I had envisaged.

I see no point in beating myself up over this sort of thing. Life is too short and I am already within a healthy weight range for my age and height. I will tell myself that women are supposed to have curves and be grateful that my party dresses are made of stretchy fabric. It would have been nice to have flattened out a few of the bulges but I only have myself to blame. If I controlled my eating more effectively I would lose the weight.

I find it much easier to eat sensibly in the summer than the winter. We have had what feels like a particularly wet and cold summer, autumn and winter in this part of the world, and this has proved too strong a disincentive to venturing outside. I am a fair weather cyclist but would usually walk in most conditions. However, I have found it difficult to wrap up effectively against the wet and cold in recent months so have not been getting out and about as much as I would wish. Staying home, so close to our food stores, has not proved beneficial to my waistline. I find this lack of self control more disappointing than the effect it has had on my size.

Despite my failure to change my appearance as I would wish I am still very much looking forward to the events I have been invited to. I do not tend to socialise regularly so the novelty will be enjoyed. I sometimes feel as if I am taking a role in a play when I go out for the evening. I act my part and hope that I remember my lines. Much of the pleasure that I get from these occasions is in people watching and mulling over the experience afterwards. My hope is that I will remain largely invisible to the crowd; a bit part or background filler merging into the scenery. Whilst I would not wish to be ignored, I crave no particular attention.

In many ways this is reminiscent of my life. I wish to live away from the gaze of others; to do my own thing quietly and peacefully without fuss. I enjoy catching up with friends and hearing about their lives and news but rarely choose to join in with their exciting activities. It is good to have an occasional celebration to look forward to, but I have no wish to regularly party.

I had a telephone conversation with an old friend from my home town yesterday. Since we last talked her family has celebrated a wedding and a birth – sometimes I realise that I have left a catch up too long. When we were teenagers we used to go to parties together, dressed outrageously as our protest against the prevailing need to dress fashionably and in something new for each event. We could not afford to keep up with such frivolity. These days I would not wish to draw such attention to myself so try to dress to fit in although still rarely in a new outfit. I do not attend enough parties to justify the purchase of more dresses, however tempting it may be to conform.

I still have a little time before I must pour myself into whichever dress I choose to wear to the next event. Perhaps I shall manage a few more visits to the gym and a few less to the food cupboard in that time. I have left it too late now to make a significant change to my size, but perhaps I can manage a very slight improvement. It would feel good to be able to prove to myself that I can ignore the inner voice telling me to eat, drink and darn the consequences!

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