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A beautifully honest interview about Motherhood. Carolijn, Romy and Graciela share their experiences with life, relationships and boundaries in their role as Mama.
Graciela Guana is mama of Kaya (2) and Gabriel (7)
Romy Boomsma is mama of Bobby Jo (2) and Mozes Wolf (8 months)
Carolijn Braeken is mama of Olivia (14 months)
Name a few things you wish other people would know about you:
Carolijn: What I’ve often found difficult is that people have trouble reading me and their first impression of me is that I am arrogant. But now I’ve loosened up a bit more and am softer. I find that it’s difficult for people to gauge me and they think of me as “strong, independent”, I am strong but in a different way than people think. But they don't understand all the layers underneath, I come off as closed off but it’s just my demeanor, because I don't quickly open up. That's what I find difficult that people think “Oh, you have it under control.”
Romy: I find it very challenging with people always judging, having to have an opinion. Why can't you just think 'hey, I think you're a nice person', and that's it. I think the whole judging tone is so not necessary.
Carolijn: Absolutely, I agree, but I’m a person who quickly has an opinion about someone else.
Romy: But then what is the opinion based on? Is it based on a character trait you clash with? Then really it’s just not a personality match. Maybe the reason is also that people only know bits about someone, like I share quite a lot on social media, but you don't get the whole story, only selective things.
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Carolijn: I also share a lot on social media. People say to me ‘it’s amazing that you dare to share all that’ and ‘it feels like I know you’, but the really deep layers underneath I keep to myself.
Romy: Same for me, I keep those deep things for myself and only share them with my friends, with the people who really know me, and get me.
Thoughts on Motherhood?
Romy: It is really now my thing, it’s taken over my life, this phase of Motherhood, but I really don't mind it. Sometimes I get asked 'dont you miss going to festivals?’ But honestly, it’s just things that I can’t think about right now.
Carolijn: But a lot of the time it’s like, you have to have a great career, look fabulous, be a good mum, keep up with the latest fashion, go to those festivals, hang out with friends and on top of that share everything on social media. And then I think to myself “Why am I even doing all these things?” and if I stop, it is not giving up, but being a mum is what my life revolves around right now.
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As Mama, what are some things you are grateful for?
Romy: Health. Family. Balance. Inner peace.
I feel really good in this stage of life now. With everything, I feel content, like I’ve come home. I feel like “this is it, this is how it’s meant to be”. It doesn't mean that I always feel good, but more like that’s how it should be, in this role as a mother, and how it should be in my life.
Carolijn: I found myself already in that phase, I just peaked too early. It was already like this, before I was pregnant, that I just wanted to go home at 11 o'clock.
Romy: Arie was 41 when I met him and I was 23. He still had a busy nightlife, but I just was so not into it. It’s so unattractive when someone comes to hangout and they have a hangover. The old versions of Romy and Arie were so different. I was way more restless before I had children.
Carolijn: Also what I thought about other people and my priorities were very different before I had children.
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Romy: I am also very grateful for having a relationship where I feel like 'this is it' and that he feels it too. Arie and I knew each other from years before, but we were just in different phases of life.
But from the time we were really together, I knew “Yes, this is it”. I wasn't ever uncertain, I didn't have that feeling of unrest or that feeling of ‘there's more’… It was just 'this is it', and I would never want it any other way. And I have that every day. Yes, I am really very happy with it, and that I would have never imagined.
Carolijn: I had that also, I already knew from the very first moment.
Romy: and it doesn't mean that we don't argue or have different opinions on things, it’s just the feeling of “this is it”. We just fit together so well, the restlessness is completely gone. It was so different from my earlier relationships where I was unsure all the time.
Carolijn: Yes and I am already insecure myself, and your relationship should be your foundation.
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What do you love about yourself?
Romy: Character-wise, I am very happy that I can express myself emotionally very well, but I have come to realize that even though I find it a nice quality for myself, for others it can be quite confrontational. But nonetheless I am very happy with it, because I don't go through life with things on my chest or going round in my head. Appearance-wise, I did like my small breasts, but they’re not really that small anymore.
Carolijn: I think I like myself very much. I also find myself very funny. I need that too, because I feel everything so heavy, and then I can put everything in perspective.
Graciela: I always know the negative things about myself very well. I think I am very hospitable and open. Everyone can always eat with us. Everyone can always join, I have stopped a bit to protect myself. Everyone was always allowed to join my parents at home, even with 7 children, it was always possible to fit one more, so I got that from home. I used to think it was always very strange when my friends would say that it wasn't always possible to have people over to eat. With us, we'd always share what we have.
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How did becoming a mother change you?
Carolijn: In addition to taking my time and money (laughing), I have become softer and more understanding of the world around me. Also, I’m so more conscious of nature and the world around me and that it needs to be taken care of. I have to protect this world even more because my child will grow up here.
Romy: I find myself being kinder to everyone.
Graciela: I now also try to help more people, to laugh more, and help other Mothers and it creates a sort of community. But those small moments alone, I find them now so good. But as your kids get older the harder it becomes because they just want to do everything you do and go everywhere you go.
Romy: and my friendships, I’ve become more selective with my friends. I want to be around people who I can be real with and who are real with me.
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Carolijn: I don't know if you can call it selfish, but now the priority is time with yourself and your child. I have always been good at saying 'no' and being selective. I have never had lots of “kinda” friends everywhere, I just have a few good close friends. But if I say 'no' to them, I don't want to have to apologize for it or explain myself, I have no time for that.
Romy: or I want to be able to say I just don't feel like it, because that's okay too. Or know that it’s okay that you do not respond to a message for a week, because you have a child and you don't even have time to be alone for one second.
Graciela: I have only a few girlfriends, I can count them on one hand, I have many sisters, but they are actually my friends. I can just say to them, I dont feel like it or I'm just tired. But I can say that now because they are all mothers, but before they were mothers, it was very different. Everyone was still going out, they were always busy with other things.
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Romy: I find the people I choose to leave in my world are all people that I want my child to learn from. They are also people of who I know that I do not have to feel embarrassed when a child is crying, and people who I don't have to apologize for my children. I think you should never, apologize for your children being children.
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If you could give advice to younger women, what would it be?
Romy: Dont be too hard on yourself. Just be yourself.
Graciela: Don't give too much of yourself away. Take care of yourself, and love yourself, and then you can take care of and care for others.
Carolijn: If you don't do that yourself, nobody else will do it for you.
Romy: And that it’s okay to say no.
Graciela: I’ve had trouble with that for a long time. Last summer I was home for a few months because I was burnt out. Since then I remind myself more that I need to put myself first and I need to guard my boundaries. I also have to take moments for myself here and there, Mom is out, not here for just a moment.
Romy: And really what’s the worst thing that can happen? You damage how others see you? I think it’s much more important that you just like yourself. That enables you to say 'no' more often, even if you think you are upsetting others.
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