In the following series we met up with women, all in different phases of their lives. But with one thing joining them, as it joins us all: Motherhood.
In light of mothers day we pay tribute to the women that we know the longest, ladies of unconditional love who have raised families, consoled us and on occasion told us off too. There are many faces of motherhood as every woman, family and situation is unique and brings its own battles. However you do it, respect ladies!
For the first feature in the MAMA TALES series we meet up with Mette, a true fashion boss, working over 20 years as both designer and in management. Now, for the first time between jobs, she tells us about her new period of contemplation, taking a step back and a exciting new career path. Following several courses in life coaching and combining her knowledge of working on both sides of fashion, Mette focusses on guiding leaders and professionals in creative businesses and creatives in corporate settings.
Mette lives in Amsterdam with her favourite man Jef and their two kids Jan (11) and Sien (9).
What have your kids taught you?
Haha wow, difficult one! Kids live in the moment; where as adults we keep looking back at the past or try to control the future. Expectations and keeping control aren’t important to kids; you could say they are the perfect mindful people. I’ve learned a lot from that.
What do you love most about motherhood?
My oldest is going to high school after the summer, and what I really love is to see these two grow into people, how their characters have developed, with their own jokes and the funny train of thought they have. I’m not really into small kids and babies, who need constant nurturing. Now that they are both more independent it’s great to see how they are doing their own thing, exploring the world. I’m just super curious to see their lives unfold.
What kinda sucks? Is that even allowed to be said?
Of course you can be critical, well at least to your own family situation. It’s such a tricky and vulnerable topic, so it’s good to keep you nose out of other family’s business. For me the first years of never ending diapers and complete dependence were tough. You of course do it with unconditional love but it can really feel like you are in constant service too. So the moment that the kids started going to school and made their own friends, yeah that’s what I really loved.
What is most important thing you want to pass on to your kids?
My youngest daughter Sien loves to drink herbal thee and always read’s the little wisdom messages aloud on the end of the tea bags. One day she asked me, who makes you the happiest? I had to think for a while and then answered: me, as I believe that happiness really starts from within, not with others or accomplishments. So I hope that both of them will always keep in touch with themselves. To be independent yet caring people that can tell others what they need and dare to believe in themselves.
Did motherhood change your relationship?
Well I was quite wild before I met Jef, had a lot of fun and a lot of boyfriends. We met quite late, I was 30, but I just instantly knew it was right. Jan was born three years later. And in the beginning it was really strange, such a shift! It seems like a lifetime ago before the kids, not better or worse, but very different. But Jef and I were really good with each other, something I would really recommend to anyone thinking of having kids. Because you are so bloody busy and you have to be able to laugh about it together too. We also really tried to keep investing in each other so it wouldn’t become some sort of logistic affair. We really made time to go out for dinner without the kids, would be practically asleep because we were so tired, but we still did it. For us having Jan and Sien made the relationship deeper, enriched it even.
How do you juggle being a mum and working life?
Well it’s tough! But you just do it and don’t think too much. The thing is that I just really loved my job, needed that part in my life too. So I would get up everyday at six to be at work at eight, that way I could leave earlier to be home and have dinner with the kids. That routine was all right actually. Being a working mum has a duality to it too. It’s more that I used to be a total perfectionist. Wanted to be the best mum, girlfriend, design awesome collections and be the perfect boss. I loved it but have learned to let go a bit; you can’t please everyone.
Staying at home vs. working, what’s you ideal situation?
Being in between jobs means that I’m home a lot more than I used to. This really changed the dynamics for us as a family. When I recently asked the kids what they thought of me being at home they said it was fantastic. I can bring them to school everyday and I’m not in such a hurry all the time. I have more time with my family and it has forced me to get off the autopilot and created a moment of reconsideration. I’m following courses to start working as a life coach; not working is not an option for me as work just gives me too much energy. Although being a mum is a fulltime job, so I really understand why people choose for this too.
Funniest things your kids have said/done?
Oh there are so many moments! But a good one was when Jan and I were about to have our picture taken, we looked very sweet and right before the flash Jan turned around and pulled down his pants to show off his butt.
Favourite thing to do together?
I’m happiest when it’s just the four of us, it really doesn’t matter what we do. It’s the spontaneous, unconstrained and simple moments when they crawl into bed with us and cuddle or we just have lovely chats.
Why did you choose to live where you do?
Well we moved a while back. We used to live near the city centre and it was perfect before the kids. But we lived on the third floor and Jan and Sien had to share a room. I always swore I wouldn’t live outside of the city ring. But Jef convinced me to take a look at a new housing project, which turned out to be perfect. Much bigger, with a garden, safe playing spots nearby and way cheaper. So yes, did it for the kids, but eventually also for myself. When you live on the third floor near busy roads it takes away a lot of your freedom. When the kids wanted to play outside I would always chaperone them. Now everyone is much more free. I can stay at home and read the newspaper and they can play outside, play knock-a-door-run or whatever they want without mums watchful eye.
Has motherhood changed your style?
Well it has changed; I used to wear either something really over the top or barely anything at all. I’m not sure if it was becoming a mother or if it came with age but I go for more laid-back outfits nowadays. As a mum you are juggling 58 balls in the air at once, so style really got less important for me. Now I’m a nice casual Dutch lady with jeans and sneakers haha! But yeah, I do have more time again now, so who knows. One thing hasn’t changed though; that’s that I would never use a baby voice to talk to my kids, or any kid actually. You know, like when you would revere to yourself as Mummy in the third person with a very cute voice? I really don’t understand that! Maybe a little when they are really small but then it doesn’t stop. I see it as my task to treat my kids as equals, so no baby talk, ever. Oh and I don’t go to baby showers either. Sorry got a little side tracked on this issue...
Is motherhood part of your identity or can it be switched off at times?
You can’t switch off being a mum, but I don’t feel that it defines my identity either. First of all I’m Mette, and yes I’m also a mum. But I don’t feel the need to show them off for my ego. I notice that a lot of parents seem to define themselves through their children’s accomplishments, especially with the whole going to high school thing and on what academic level. People go crazy!
What’s your favourite thing to do on kid-free days?
I love going out for dinner or watching a movie. Reading during the day and just hanging out, creating new projects or making photo books.
Anything you would like to say to all the momma’s (to be) out there?
I’ve learned to first be a good mother to myself before I could be a good mother to my children. This way I can truly be loving and open to their needs and really hear them.