Becoming a mom at 15 and at 35, these were the differences

Becoming a mom at 15 and at 35

The history

I first became a mom at 15 and at 35, these were the differences.

I have been blessed with three beautiful children with three completely different personalities and with one big age gap between them…I had my two eldest children in my teens (15 going on 16 years old, and then at 18 years old), my third and last child came almost twenty years after my first. That’s why I like to use the relatively new hashtags #gapmom or #agegapmom.

It was never my intention to have an age gap but it was just the cards we were dealt. I grew up an only child, not yet knowing that I had a biological sister and brother out there. We also have a +- 10 year age gap. So I grew up a bit lonely and I decided that I wanted more than one child.

So then life happens and sometimes (well most of the time for us) life doesn’t go as planned. I became a single mother almost from the start and when I did meet and marry my (ex) husband ten years later, we could not conceive easily and needed help in the form of in-vitro. The whole IVF thing was for me a knightmare, the hormones, the shots, the touching and probing by doctors, the egg harvesting, the disappointing phone calls and then the miscarriage.

I had almost given up. So much so thTat we adopted a beautiful sweet doxie, Toby, from the pound, thinking that he will help me deal with the heartache and emptiness.

But as life would have it, we got the surprise that we were pregnant in May 2013. My children were 19 and 17 and that time so I knew there would be the inevitable age gap, nonetheless, we were so excited.

The differences

Well besides the obvious, becoming pregnant at 15 was unplanned. I have no regrets at all. I would not want to live in a world without my two eldest children, but parenting was hard. It was sometimes feeling like I had hit rock bottom hard and it’s only by God’s grace that I made my way up again each time. Funny thing is, I only became a born again Christian when I was 26-27. Ten years after having my two first children. It’s only then when looking abck, I could see God’s work and help in our lives.

I was young and immature. People felt like they needed to give me advice all-of-the-time. I also had no network then around me, something I really have this time around.

As a teen mother, the only expectancy that most people have of you is that of failure. Poor education, poor finances, and poor choices.

I tried to break free from that stereotype. But I have to be honest, that expectancy was true for the first few years of my motherhood. Thankfully I did manage to turn it all around on time. Or at least I tried.

So for me, the main diffence I feel is the people’s perceptions of me as a mother. When I was a teen, it was assumed that I was a bad mother. When I had my last baby at 35, I was treated as “normal”.

The con’s

I have not really experienced any besides that it’s a pity that I hadn’t kept any of my eldest children’s baby clothing. I would have been the hippest mom around as retro clothing and wool is very “in”.

I’m sure if I think hard enough I could find some, but while writing this none come to mind, maybe when I will re-read my post in the future I will have some to add. But for now, I see it as the greatest blessing in my life, my children, age gap and all.

The pro’s

  • Babysitting: My eldest daughter told me at the start that she would not have it! We decided to have another baby, then we should not expect any help from her…Well, that was her stance at the beginning, and now she is my youngest child’s biggest fan. I don’t really need a babysitter, other than for visiting the doctor or for a school meeting, but I can always count on her. Even if she pouts for a bit. *insert smiley face*
  • Having parented for almost twenty years when I had my youngest, I knew what kind of parent I wanted to be. I’m sorry to my eldest children, but they helped me to see the good and bad things I did in parenting them. And so while pregnant with my last, I devoured all books on parenting and I had a very good idea of the things I wanted to do differently. A do-over let’s call it.
  • The 16-year-old me would never admit to it, but I truly see the difference the maturity that age brings with itself. I see things now that I could not see then. I also did not feel confident enough to step up for my beliefs. People giving me advice on breastfeeding that felt wrong. People telling me how I should discipline my child. People telling me how children should act. I dare think for myself now and I trust my motherly instinct more.
  • Taking it more slowly. I know how fast it all will pass. Sleepless nights will pass. Diapers will pass. Tantrums (should) pass. Yelling “Mommy, mommy, mommy, look at me” will pass. I can even enjoy those moments now, knowing that one day, my job will be done and that I have (hopefully) created a well-balanced adult.
  • Even though I have been a mom for two decades, it feels like I’m a brand new mom again because of the gap. Thank God for the better breastfeeding advice and thank God for the Facebook mom groups that have helped me as well. I wish I had them then.

The big age gap between my children has been very interesting and the truth is, parenting will always be challenging, no matter what age or what age gap. But it is a blessed, wonderful and beautiful adventure. It’s just such a blessing to experience it again, even if it took almost twenty years.

Becoming a mom at 15 and at 35 is my greatest blessing.

Becoming a mom at 15 and at 35, these were the differences

Advertisements

How to pack healthy school lunch

How to pack a healthy school lunch

Packing lunchboxes are not only a time-consuming part of the morning rush, but it is also a true headache for many parents. I’m trying this year my ultimate best at makingng the best lunch possible for my little grazer. How to pack a healthy school lunch? What needs to be put in that lunchbox nowadays? What is not done?

Nutella, jam, or sprinkles have been blacklisted in many schools here in Belgium. And recently the WHO (World Health Organization) also blacklisted ham, salami, and other cold cuts. 

So much has changed over the years. I used to just slap on some salami or baloney onto my eldest children’s sandwiches. Now that the salami is also banned, we are totally lost. You can’t send your children to school every day with a slice of cheese on their sandwich? Anyway, we can, but not without loud protest from those involved. 

So I did my research. I have followed nutritionists and health conscience mom’s on Pinterest and Instagram to see what they do and advise.

START AT THE BEGIN: THE RIGHT BREAD BOX

It all starts with finding the right lunchbox. It’s better to get the non-plastic ones (better for health and the environment), and one with different compartments (Bento). I have a stainless steel one for me, but my 5 year old has a hard time opening it so in the meantime he uses the Yumbox original. It’s completely leak free and has just the right amount of compartments for my little grazer. Follow this link if you would like some tips on how to find the right lunchbox. 

THINK IN GROUPS

Just like us, children need carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats and that on a daily basis. Each one of these food groups is important for a proper development. However, especially proteins and fats are often missing in the lunch box. For the lunchbox I always recommend thinking in 4 groups.

  • Proteins, animal or vegetable: for example, a hard-boiled egg, bouncer, leftover chicken, mozzarella, feta, gouda, tuna or other canned fish, leftover meatballs, lentil salad, hummus, whole yogurt, or tofu.
  • Vegetables:raw vegetables (tomatoes on the vine, cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, celery, lettuce …), cooked beans, vegetable leftovers from the night before, or soup in a separate thermos.
  • Whole grain cereal products:whole meal bread, wholegrain rice cake, wholegrain pita or wrap, wholegrain pasta, or whole rice.
  • Healthy fats:olives, avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

Whether you effectively divide these groups into sections or throw them all into one large salad or wrap, does not matter. As long as you take something from each group, and the ingredients are unprocessed, it will be fine.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2ODgDBIV4J/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

Ah! Let your child indicate how much he wants to eat. He will feel perfectly full if you fill the lunchbox with fiber-rich, protein-rich and fat-rich food. That is not the case with Nutella sandwiches. Those children seem insatiable. That is completely normal, because white bread with chocolate does not contain any fibers or nutritional values. That is why you can eat a lot of them, but you also get hungry again very quickly.

I hate moving

I hate moving

I hate moving.

What else can I pack? Did I pack it logically? What should I get rid of?

My Lord, the amount of crap people collect over the years. “oh, here is a museum ticket form our trip to the south of France from nine years ago…”

I am sooooo ready to do some Marie Kondo type of organizing and go ridiculously minimalistic.

However…even though my brain wants it…that other part of me is having a hard time letting go of useless mementos from another life.

I hate moving

The inevitable is happening. We have to. I want to move. But…

I hate moving. It is expensive, stressful, tiring and I always worry something will go wrong (broken or lost items, etc). I also don’t like leaving places I feel comfortable in. When I live somewhere I get to know the area, the layout, the people, the transit times, etc. Sometimes (if I am not moving far) only a small amount changes, but it is still an adjustment and settling in can be daunting.

I do my best to overcome any issues by cleaning, making lots of lists, packing and planning ahead, but it doesn’t always help to assuage the stress. Instead, I try to focus on the good things that will come out of it. In our upcoming move, it is the garden we are looking forward to and the central heating. We have been freezing our butts off these past few winters so we will be moving just in time.

It might be a small thing, but sometimes having even just one good point, can help to alleviate a lot of new.

Ok, going to go back to the packing. U-g-h!

I hate moving

Goodbye and taking a distance

Goodbye and taking a distance

I have been trying to write a coherent text about the last past year for a while now and for a specific purpose. To leave this all behind me from now on and to move forward.

I have been able to hurt, cry and heal this past year and now in a month I will be leaving our home behind to start a new life.

Goodbye and taking a distance

Relationships are freaking difficult. Just as difficult as blogging about divorces, it now appears. But divorces are really much worse. Practically and financially they are hopeless, but that is just the beginning. I had to grieve and say goodbye to my entire life as I had imagined. I once saw the love of my life in that other person, my ex. The other person once made my heart beat so hard that it made me so bloody nervous everytime we were near to each other. I remember the flow of hormones that screamed through my body the first time we kissed.

We had so much between us and our relationship felt sometimes as if it was overflowing with love. We had made huge lifelong commitments. We moved in together, raised our children from separate relationships together, got married, adopted a dog and then we became incredibly blessed by welcoming a child of us both.

Well, that has been a long time ago and can now be classified as adorable, cute and fun.

Because suddenly there were reasons to break that commitment. Not just the case of someone cheating on the other person, no. Serious reasons. Abuse, drugging, spousal rape, and child rape.

And now I have chosen to say goodbye and distance myself from him. Even though he does not want the divorce. Even though overzealous people tell me that it is not God’s will for us to divorce.

I try to distance myself from my emotions, from the hurtful things that people have said. From him so I can try to divide my life as I would have built it up by two. The math will never be right, I will always be left with less anyway.

In this there are only victims.

But I choose not to be one. I want to heal from this. And slowly, I am.

Goodbye and taking a distance

My 5 New School Year resolutions

My 5 New School Year resolutions

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. The coming of the New Year does not give me the sense of a new beginning like September does. School life has been part of my life non-stop since I was 5 years old. If it was not my own school life it was that of my children. This September I decided that I wanted to switch things up for my 5 year old, hence my 5 new school year resolutions.

My 5 New School Year resolutions

  1. Getting to school 15 minutes earlier: I used to get to school just on time by the end of the last school year. I drive my son in our cargo bike when he could easily bike himself, but I always seem pressed for time and that’s a pity. I’m resolved to leaving earlier and to hopefully get him to bike himself more regularly and arrive earlier at school so he can fit in some playing time before school starts.
  2. Less screen time after school: My son has just spent a whole day at school and it’s easy to simply let him sit down in front of his iPad and unwind, but by doing this we don’t really connect and get to do fun stuff together. So I want to do more activities together after school. If it’s a short walk with the dogs, board games or crafts. Those things should not be only done during the weekends, but after school, I want to re-connect.
  3. Add more diversity to my son’s lunchbox: We do bento lunches (we use the Yumbox), but my son has somehow reduced the things that he likes to eat to sandwiches with cheese and jam (it’s a Belgian thing), cucumbers, grapes, Ikea chicken meatballs, and nuts. This year I’m going to sneak in something new each week. Hopefully, this will broaden his very limited taste.
  4. Getting my son to help with dinner: Again, it’s easy to just flip on the Ipad so I can get some cooking done, but I want more quality time with my son right? And I want him to start appreciating different kinds of food more, so instead of heading for the kitchen myself, I will encourage my son to help me out with dinner. He loves making pancakes with me on weekends so why not dinner from time to time. We will make this time together fun.
  5. I won’t let guilt grip me: All of us mom’s/parents feel the guilt from time to time. Certainly when you see on social media all the things other parents do (In fact, according to a recent study by UK charity Scope, of 1500 Facebook and Twitter users surveyed, 62% reported feeling inadequate and 60% reported feelings of jealousy from comparing themselves to other users.). I need to remember that my good intentions are there. But I have my limitations too. Last school year I was just trying to survive a brutal divorce, I am chronically ill and need to take care of myself if I want to take care of others. So I will try to keep that in mind this year and if I had a bad day, I will try to do better the next.

Motherhood is a hard, lonely journey. Maybe, just maybe, we can find it in our hearts to be kind to ourselves and remember that fact. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to do better the next day and that, by God’s grace is what I will try to do.

So here were my 5 New School Year resolutions. Have you made any? Am I being too ambitious? I would love to hear from you.

My 5 New School Year resolutions

When your trust has been broken

When your trust has been broken

The breakdown of my marriage had caused so much confusion and sadness.

It even evoked a sense of mourning.

It felt like my husband had died.

It felt like this person I had trusted and sincerely believed in, no longer existed.

Have you ever experienced a loss like that?

If your trust has been broken, it can even be traumatic. Some dare not to trust anyone anymore. They struggle with depression and with loneliness.

I know of a few “sisters” for whom this is a reality.

How your trust can be destroyed if you are abandoned by your family, by friends or by the brothers and sisters of your church.

How great is the disappointment if your spouse cheats on you, if you are bullied or ignored by other people…If you trust a person, you will be embarrassed

Psalm 146 is clear about that.

You trust someone who is just as sinful, weak and mortal as you are. His plans go into the grave with him. His power, wealth and intelligence, his talks and his pretenses. They do not make him any more than he is … A man!

Can we trust?

Does this mean that you cannot have a role model, a mentor or that you cannot admire someone? That you cannot take an example from someone, and that you cannot maintain a strong relationship of trust with another person?

Of course, you can!

As long as we continue to see the other as a person “with whom there is no salvation.”

We can have salvation and we can experience happiness, but we should not depend on another human for that.

There is only One in whom we can fully trust. Our God, immortal, unchangeable, the Truth itself. Our Father, who always does what He says.

When your trust has been broken

He is the only one in whom a sinful and weak person can count on. The only one.

Because He is the Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, King for eternity! 

When your trust has been broken

The best 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​

The top 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​

The best work-friendly coffee shops in Antwerp? Why?

Have a big term paper due, studying for exams, or need a change of scenery while working from home? I asked my friends on social media where they love to go and I tried ALL the suggested coffee shops suitable for students and professionals alike. I grabbed some coffee and got down to business to find the top spots for (cold) brews, savory bites, free WiFi, and plenty of outlets. So order a beverage and look at my notes on Antwerp’s best coffee shops for studying or work. After all, espresso and efficiency go hand in hand, especially if your a mom like me, then you just need coffee to be efficiant.

Here are to my honest opinion, the best 5 work-friendly coffee shops in Antwerp.

The best 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​

Viggo’s coffee

This is probably my number 1 favorite place to go to, “Viggo’s coffee”. Not only because it’s near to the Roosevelt Plaats where I take the bus home from but because the owner and staff are a-m-a-z-i-n-g, the coffee (ask to smell the choices) is extraordinary. Pastries are delicious! I used to have a cappuccino there with oat milk, but now I usually order a “Dirty Chai” Yum, yum!

The sitting area is clean, retro and comfy just as I like it, plus there is a long communal table if you feel like chatting with other customers, or you can just go and sit somewhere more private, it’s up to you. Free Wifi of course!

Visit here: Viggo’s coffee

Vitesse

Just behind the Central Station lies the quirky ‘Vitesse coffee shop.” I was drawn to it due to the weird combination of its slogan “coffee & cycling” — two things I LOVE! I was not disappointed. Vitesse is a pretty cool, cozy cafe where you can get some work done, read, do some people-watching, or just spend some quiet time over a cup of coffee. As its name suggests, the place has a cycling theme with some cycling-related gear artfully displayed throughout the shop. Most importantly, of course, is that the baristas here serve some really good coffee!

Visit here: Vitesse

Normo

This place is on my list of the top 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​ because it serves the BEST coffee e-v-e-r! They roast the coffee beans themselves. That’s just so awesome and so yummy. You can imagine the smell while walking in.

The interior has pretty eclectic mismatched furniture and a shelves covered in coffee paraphernalia. The atmosphere is really cosy inside and out. Plus the staff are so welcoming and great at making you a good coffee.

I’m really a coffee snob and so when I’m craving some good quality coffee, this is the place I go to.

Visit here : Normo

Local Store 2000

Coming it to this place just made me happy. It had again the lovely retro feel to it that I like and that countertop!!! So Belgian, so inviting! A friend did comment that she found the coffee, so,so.

Located a few streets from the main shopping street, Meir, but located in a very nice shopping area also. Fresh, Bio, Local, Good and relaxing! It surely deserves a spot on the best work-friendly coffee shops in Antwerp list.

Visit here: Local Store 2000

22b

This place is a beat off track and located outside of the major touristic attractions.
It is mostly visited by locals and visitors from the nearby hospital.
You choose your food from the counter, and up you go. Food is fresh, delicious and healthy, there is plenty of choices, I highly recommend the “chili sin carne”. They have a large selection of coffee, tea and desserts or snacks. 
Finally, there is a nice courtyard out back to sit down and relax in the warm days.
Take care it is closed at 8pm and also on weekends. I would avoid it during lunchtime as it gets packed.

They also have some toys and books to keep little children occupied while eating. Yay!

Visit here : 22b

So these were my top 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​. I’m a mom, who loves coffee and needs a break from home from time to time and who wants to write somewhere other than her bed.

What other places should I also check-out? Always looking for the newest trendiest and yummiest place to-be. Extra points if they are child friendly (as in healthy children’s menu’s and some toys/books to keep them occupied. Major points if they have a play area.)

The best 5 work-friendly​ coffee shops in Antwerp​

The best summer activities we did so far.

the best summer activities

So bye bye July, what a month you were. The heatwave nearly killed me, thank God that it only lasted about 3-4 days.

EEEEEEEEEEH, I’m a born and bred Canadian. I like my summer’s warm, but not scorching hot. What I really love is the fall, it’s my favorite season but it was the winter that I was dreaming for during that heatwave. I made a promise to God that I would NEVER complain about the rain again and I’m sticking to it.

So for besides those 4 days in hell where you could hardly move, we had a great summer already.

I would not be a mom blogger if I did not share with you another list of must doe’s, just to give you all some inspiration so here are the best summer activities we did so far.

Just a reminder: I’m a Canadian native living in the suburbs of Antwerp Belgium. I’m a mom of three, with two “kids” still living at home. My 25-year-old daughter and my 5-year-old son. We are sometimes accompanied by our two Doxies Toby and Charlie. And we travel mainly by cargo bike or transit.

This is what we have done so far

We also did quite a bit of crafting, lego building, baking and board games. Looking at the upcoming weather forecast for the next week, it looks like we will be doing more of those things in August.

So you don’t need to go on far away exotic trips during the summer, just explore your surroundings.

“Mommy, I have such a fun life”…mister 5 year-old during bedtime.

I must be doing something good.

The best summer activities we did so far.

What’s wrong with me?

spousal abuse healing

What’s wrong with me? That sentence was one of the first things that popped into my head while finding out what my husband had done. What’s wrong with me?

To make a really, unbelievable, long story short; my husband drugged me he could have intercourse with me while I was unconscious.

I found out one morning after waking up and having a black-out. I did my research, confronted him with our pastor and a friend and after he tried denying it at first, he did finally admit to doing it. He said that he did it for me, because “I was having chronic pain and would not take medication to relieve the pain and that it made me more willing and loving…”

What’s wrong with me?

This was the first of the many things he would admit too. After surrendering himself to the police after I gave him the ultimatum to do so, he admitted to having been doing this for ten years, and that he had done the same to my daughter once. This daughter is from a previous relationship. He co-raised her from the age of 13 years-old and when we heard the details of what he had done to her from our lawyer, she turned to me and saidbut he was my dad“.

What’s wrong with us?

Why was I still asking this question?

Because some people did ask me if it was because of something I had done, or rather the lack of.

“Why would he do this, he was such a good man. Did you not give him enough sex or attention? “

I don’t believe their intention was to cause me(us) harm, but their comments placed shame on me. Those are the types of words that take root and cause us to blame ourselves.

Traumatic events can leave us feeling like something is horribly wrong with us. We question our worth, lovability, belonging, and—for some of us—even our very right to exist. Recovery takes bravery.

After my mother had shared my story through the “Go Fund Me” website, it hit social media and people have been reaching out to me. Sharing their stories. Women, men who got out of the deepest pits by never giving up, until the truth of what happened to them and who they are setting their hearts free. 

It’s not our fault!

And freedom is possible. I have hope and faith and love and with all that, all is possible.

Shalom,

What's wrong with me?

Helping me to understand was a Bible plan on You VersionHealing The Wounds of Sexual Betrayal” by D. Sheri Keffer. I found this Bible plan so helpful that I went on to buy the book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

I am so thankful for Dr. Sheri’s candor, wisdom, and practical advice. She writes not only as an accomplished clinician with the training, experience, and research to back her claims but also with the knowledge of someone who’s been there and comes through stronger on the other side. This book combines helpful graphics, powerful anecdotes, spiritual guidance, and “tell it like it really is” authenticity. Whether you’ve been wounded or walk alongside those that have, this book should immediately catapult to the top of your “must-read” list.

It is well

it is well with my soul

It is well

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name
The waves and wind still know His name

And it is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well 

Deciding to surrender to God, to trust in Him and allowing Christ to “take our place. Realizing that today “It is well” with my soul, it is well with ME!

It is well