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07 Jan

A working mother's dieting and exercise journey

These days I regret to say that I just don’t seem to care so much about my weight, the gym or exercise. I must confess that there have been bigger things going on in my life.

I wake up quoting Shakespeare, dream about Purple Hibiscus and Kamliri (the lead protagonist), dance to the lyrics of various African poets, prophesy with the unlikely poet of Brother Jero (Wole Soyinka), and argue with the meat seller about the opportunity cost of buying the extra kilo of meat he is begging me to buy. The list is endless. You see, I have been taking WAEC.

The truth is that WAEC can mean the difference between you being home for one year and you going on to hopefully greater things. WAEC can even mean the difference between you being able to do youth service after your bourgeoisie university education at Harvard or Oxford or wherever you are lucky enough to go to. You see, WAEC result can lead to my sanity.

Well, I am happy to say that I passed my WAEC long time ago and am the proud owner of a degree. However, my first child has been taking WAEC. In actual fact, I would have happily taken the exams for her. I feel I could have passed and saved myself the money, the worry, the invasion of my privacy by one billion private tutors… you see my home became a Mecca of some sorts. To show you how lucrative lessons have become, one even bought a car after six months of lesson. Yes, I have changed his life.

So why can’t I exercise? Why can’t I find the motivation to just get on with it? Why can’t I be my usual energizer bunny? Well, motherhood drains you! When I do decide to go exercising the lesson teachers are calling, the school is calling, my head is beeping and I feel like the busy machine in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital: beep, bleep, beep, bleep. All in my head.

Coupled with the fact that matching a sweet, cute, precocious 16-year-old who is six-foot tall with a young healthy man in confined spaces, day after day after day, may not be a good idea, I have had to become chaperone, mother hawk watching over her precious chick for even the slightest impropriety. So I sit in the sitting area beside her pretending to be reading a book or browsing day after day after day.

One Saturday morning, one of the numerous teachers arrived to tutor precious 16-year-old as she sauntered in wearing bum shorts with her books, grumpily slamming them on the table. You should have seen the look on his face as he turned red or whatever shade dark people turn to as he managed to splutter out “ please, go and change , this is not appropriate wear for lesson…please….”

I actually felt sorry for him. So, I have to protect her from herself, him from himself, and me from going mad or being sent home unceremoniously to my dead father’s compound with a disgraced daughter. What will I tell my dead father’s grave? That I was busy trying to be a size four in the gym? I think he would rise up from his grave and not just knock me but pound me. Deservedly so.

So my evenings of aerobics or gym? Gone. They have been spent on the pages of books and magazines and blogs and dreams, as I guard this precious gem that does not know how hazardous men are. Not so bad really.

And what has come from my lack of gym and fitness motivation is a new empathy for overweight women. Each of them has their own story. Now I am not so quick to judge. One of my friends last year put on about 10 kgs in two months when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. She would eat and eat and eat and eat trying to drown out the fears that come from the diagnosis, trying to drown out the terror of chemotherapy and the terrible reality that life is fragile. Very fragile.

And frankly I really could not care less about my weight gain or lack of fitness. I know I gave it (WAEC) my all: My sister sent me a BBM: “Ping, Ping, PING, PING, why don’t you call me or answer your phone anymore?????” I answer: “Studying.” She sends another: “For what?” I answer: “WAEC….”

She rolls on the floor laughing. It’s okay for her, she has had four all-star university students, and she is dealing with the last. Me, I am just beginning. She BBMs me again: “Don’t die o…..then you won’t even know if she passed….” I roll on the floor laughing myself. You gotta laugh!

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