Mother diaries | Forgotten girl
Earlier today I was lying on a sandy beach in Cornwall watching my sons who were surfing. It’s a new thing for them.
by Amadea West
Squinting at them I am amazed as they magically ‘popped up’ on the board as if they weighed nothing. I however was lying down. Doing so in the blackest largest swimsuit with maximum coverage lying as flat as I could, holding in my stomach, while simultaneously trying to look up at the sunny cloud free blue sky, pretending that I was counting my blessings. The boys are healthy, polite and tall (a bonus somehow) and not heading for a life in crime, and my lovely husband who still seems to not mind being married to me, is throwing the ball for our Labrador who bounds along like a puppy, living his best dog life. I could almost hear violins.
And all I could think about was my newly rounded never to be gotten rid of stomach. I am playing fast and loose with the word ‘newly’. Its been there for about 10 years since child number 4. I think of myself as a fairly honest person. I have to, to get over all the lies that I tell. ‘I don’t care about being fat’, ‘I don’t mind getting old at all’, ‘I love exercise, I just feel so good afterwards’ ‘I don’t like alcohol that much, I don’t really drink much anymore’. Lies lies lies. Big fat lies. That makes me a big fat liar. Literally. Oh I know I absolutely shouldn’t say fat but the fact is that I think about being thin at least once an hour. As I am awake approximately 16 hours a day that means I think about being thin 16 times a day, 112 times a week and 1624 times a year and as I’ve been doing that for at least 10 years this means I’ve wasted 16,240 moments of my life (I am not converting it to hours) thinking about being thin. Thats an extraordinary waste of time, especially as at no point have I put down in earnest the wine/cake/bread/butter (I believe in butter). I am not good at deprivation of any kind. Food. Love. Sex. I just can’t bare missing out or being hungry ever….. and there is a price to pay it turns out. And I am staring at it while I’m on the beach…. Also it turns out if you eat less you live longer. Scientists somewhere worked that out. What a nightmare. I don’t want to die young. No chance of that I suppose at my age, but I don’t want to be hungry either. My thin hungry friends seem to manage life and they look good and don’t seem to mind. I think they are happier than I am even if their chances of early osteoporosis has doubled due to their ability for self restraint in their 50’s. I am pretty sure my bones are ok. It’s my mind that concerns me. I have to stop the fantasies I have about me in a bikini, me standing sideways and looking like the ironing board I used to be. I have an attic full of clothes, It's like a mausoleum of the thin version of me. I go up there and sit and stare at the waist of the size 6 dresses I used to wear. They don’t like me anymore. I’m a little bit of an embarrassment. I am no longer wanted or invited to the party. Go downstairs and eat cake they say. Make room for the younger thinner ones. Send them up here. I keep trying to remember if I was unhappier back then. I can’t remember. I can’t remember where my phone is, where my keys are, where my glasses are or what that girl was like - the thin one. Maybe i’ll make myself forget her. She seems to have forgotten about me.
Amadea West is the youngest of 10 children. She currently lives in Burford with her long suffering husband, two of her four children, a dog named after her father and a cat named after a Russian poet. She likes the colour blue, hats, bees, trees, birdsong, curry, books, music, being underwater, France, the sea, clouds, sand, drawing, Netflix, candles, marmite, butter and Lily of the valley.
She had her first child in her twenties and last one in her forties. She’s had several careers in between breastfeeding her children ranging from producing tv commercials to ghost writing to designing clothes.. She’s currently enrolled in an MA course in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes where she’s looking forward to pretending that she’s 20 years old again with undifferentiated breasts and a very tight pelvic floor.