Amanda is a fellow expat in the Netherlands. She is married to a Dutch man, and together they raise three bilingual boys, one of whom is a SHC (Highly Sensitive Child). She also has three children, just like me. Amanda writes about her life in the Netherlands in her blog, Expat Life With a Double Buggy, and also has her own writing business over at The Writing Well. This, as she says, is a little bit different than the things she usually writes, but it is so great that I just had to share this. And you know what? These are exactly the words I need to hear right now. Thank you, Amanda. You wrote this post a while ago, but it couldn't be more appropriate for me at this time.
It finally feels like my time has come. A new era of me has begun. After three years of doing things almost exclusively in my “mama” role the last month or two have been more about me.
It’s been more about writing and blogging, getting ideas onto paper. About interacting, at least virtually, with other ‘big people’ in daytime hours instead of solely with those aged six and under (give or take a teacher or two a day).
It’s also been more about feeling better about myself. I’ve joined a gym and am striving to drop a few kilos (read a few kilos as ‘more than I want to talk about’). After three pregnancies it feels time to reclaim my body back, feel comfortable in my own skin and get my energy levels up.
The last six years have been filled with pregnancies, newborn baby boys, breastfeeding, the delight of first words and first steps, first days at nursery school and a first day at junior school. They have been jam-packed with discovery, exploration and finding our way through parenthood. They are years full of precious moments, tucked away in the pockets of our hearts and minds for safekeeping. But things are changing. Whilst we have lots more firsts to come, my beautiful little family has entered a new phase.
My eldest two sons can now do so much for themselves. They get themselves dressed in the morning, laying out their clothes the night before to make life easier. Sometimes I don’t even need to turn a T-shirt, or a pair of underpants or trousers around the right way before we leave the house. They put their own Weetabix in their breakfast bowls, pour their own milk and clear away their bowls and beakers when they are done eating. I just have to wipe up the cereal crumbs and milk droplets from the dining table and kitchen work surface after breakfast. Even my one year old feeds himself his own breakfast now, leaving my hands free to actually spoon breakfast into my own mouth in the mornings. Putting coats and shoes on for the school run is getting easier each morning as they help each other and become more competent in putting arms in sleeves and doing zips and buttons up. Getting out of the front door is less and less like a military operation as each day passes. Sometimes we even get a full nights sleep.
When my third son was born (nineteen months ago now) everyone around me said hang on in there, it’ll be tough and it will only get easier once your little one turns four. Luckily, I haven’t had to wait that long. Life is already getting easier. Everyone was right; it has been tough. But there’s breathing space in our days again.
Of course with three children (aged six, three and one) I remain a full time mother and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but little windows of life outside parenting are opening up again. There are refreshing breezes blowing the cobwebs away from my creative mind. The areas of life that had been covered in dustsheets are suddenly seeing the light of day once more.
And you know what? That time to write, that time to delve into my creativity, that time to ‘empty my bucket’, time to go to the gym, time to challenge myself physically and mentally? It turns out that that time allows me to be a better mother.
Amanda is British but has called the Netherlands home since 2000. She lives in a void between being British and being Dutch. She is 'mama' to three boys aged six and under. All three were born in the Netherlands and have dual nationality but the reality is they are more Cloggie than Brit..... and that makes life interesting. Motherhood abroad throws up challenges, questions and amazing memories. You can find Amanda here: