Obiter Dictum

Notes on the adventure of life.

Mother Knows Best.

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Mothers on their Mums, motherhood and what they want to teach their own children.

(Published in De Morgen Wax & Flanders Today. Photos by Carmen De Vos www.carmendevos.com)

Photo by Carmen De Vos

Fatima Rafiy (40), Antwerp

Mother of Yassira (17), Ilyas (15), Yassin (12), Yasmina (11)

Which are the most important lessons your mother taught you?

My mother raised us according to the values of Islam. Although she wasn’t particularly authoritarian, she always made sure we knew which values were important. The biggest lesson my mother taught me was to respect everyone, regardless of his or her culture, religion, beliefs or the colour of their skin. She also taught me the importance of being true to myself and of being able to integrate in a western society without loosing my own values.

Today, my mom is my best friend. I can discuss anything with her and I know I can always turn to her for advice

How has motherhood changed your life?

Being a mother has brought an enormous sense of responsibility to my life, both toward my own children and to society as a whole. I have learned that everyone wants to live happily, regardless of who they are. I want to contribute to a society where people can live in freedom and I want others to give me the room and respect to be who I am.

What are the most important things you want to teach your children?

I want to pass on the lessons my parents taught me to my children: to have respect for everyone, to develop your own opinion and have the courage to express it, and to believe in yourself. I think those values are very important in helping you to build a happy, fulfilled life.

Photo by Carmen De Vos

Bieke Vanassche (31) and Sandy Van Robays (31), Gent

Mothers of Felix (11 months)

Which are the most important lessons your mother taught you?

[Bieke]: My mom was a teacher and she placed great importance on always being there for her children. She even came home to cook us warm meals over lunchtime. Being there for our children is now also important to me.
[Sandy]: My mom taught me to be independent. I was given a lot of freedom to explore the boundaries of what was acceptable and what not.

How has motherhood changed your life?

[Bieke]: Motherhood has changed my life fundamentally, both physically and mentally. Suddenly, everything takes second place to our son.

[Sandy]: Our routines have changed less dramatically than I thought they would after the arrival of Felix, but as Bieke says, what does change dramatically are one’s priorities in life.

What are the most important things you want to teach your children?

[Bieke]: Self-confidence and respect are very important values to both Sandy and I. To us it is important that our children will have respect for everything and everyone.

[Sandy]: …I also want them to be able to stand their ground, and to come up for what they believe in.

[Bieke]: Most importantly I hope that he may become who and what he wants to be, without having to conform to the pressure others may put on him to perform to their norms. We want him to be happy, that is what matters most.

Photo by Carmen De Vos

Francine Hardeman (57), Sint-Pieters-Leeuw

Mother of Elisabeth (32), Christina (27), Viktor (22) and grandmother of Anna (3 ½ years)

Which are the most important lessons your mother taught you?

My mother is a very generous person, everyone was always welcome at our house and nothing was ever too much trouble for her; helping others was something which clearly gave her great pleasure. It’s not surprising then, that she always told us to use our talents to help others and make a meaningful contribution to the world.

How has motherhood changed your life?

Motherhood makes your life so much richer, both in the pleasure it brings but also in the worry or pain one carries on behalf of your children. Helping a child grow from a helpless infant to a well-balanced, happy adult is not only an immense responsibility but also a great privilege. Not least, being a mother also drives home the fact that just as we educate our children, they educate and shape us as parents too.

What are the most important things you want to teach your children?

I want my children to stand strong and solid in the world and to live their lives to the full. I want them to remain true to who they are, regardless of what others may think. And I hope that they will become the best they can be and use their talents to make a positive contribution to society.

Photo by Carmen De Vos

Goedele Demecheleer (42), Galmaarden
Mother of Altaseb (15), Bertucan (14) and Ferre (10)

Which are the most important lessons your mother taught you?
We had a lot of freedom as children, both physically and mentally. We were allowed to choose what we wanted to study, our friends, our partners – my mother never tried to influence our choices. She was always there for us and even today she puts her own needs behind those of her children and her grandchildren. Sometimes I want to tell her that she should think about her own needs more often, relax and enjoy life.

How has motherhood changed your life?
I’m a real mother hen. I had to wait so long for my children that when they finally arrived, I gave up everything for them. Some people may find this strange, but I don’t understand people who put their own needs before those of their children. I also absolutely don’t mind the fact that children ‘restrict’ my life, in fact I find it normal. We did all our travelling before the kids arrived. Now, we concentrate on them.

What are the most important things you want to teach your children?
I want my children to think very carefully about having children; they shouldn’t have them just because everyone else does. I want them to make a very conscious choice. Apart from that I want my children to be open and respectful toward others. And I would love a whole spectrum of colours and nationalities amongst my sons and daughters in-law, so that I’ll have lots of different grandchildren. But most of all I wish them love. Lots of love. All the rest will follow from that.

Photo by Carmen De Vos

Kim Leysen (31), Meerhout

‘Plus’ Mother of Ruben (15), mother of Jef (5) and Abel (1,5 years)

Which are the most important lessons your mother taught you?

My mother is very orderly, punctual and quite reserved and I am the complete opposite. In some things I wish I was more like her (having a fixed cleaning day and always knowing where I left things would help) but in others I’m happy to be the opposite. My mom always told me that I should act normal, not be arrogant or conceited and never to look down on others. That’s an important lesson.

How has motherhood changed your life?

I don’t think motherhood has changed me as a person, but it has made me experience emotions that I didn’t know existed. I do worry a lot more now, and I sometimes even catch myself envisaging doom scenarios when, for instance, I can’t hear the kids anymore, which is so unlike me. My kids are also still young and I spend all my time with them right now, so at the moment I feel more ‘mother’ than ‘woman’.

What are the most important things you want to teach your children?

I want my kids to grow up to be open-minded adults with a sense of humour who don’t always take themselves too seriously. I believe being able to laugh at yourself is so important in life.

Photo by Carmen De Vos

Kelly Quaghebeur (29), Wevelgem

Mother of Iele (2 years and 3 months), Ditte and Mare (5 months)

Which are the most important lessons your mother taught you?

I had a strict upbringing and my mother had very clear rules, not like some parents today who want to be their children’s best friend. Rules were rules and they had to be obeyed. To have good manners, to be respectful and honest, that’s what she drummed into us.

How has motherhood changed your life?

Motherhood has changed my life completely, both in positive and negative ways. I never imagined just how much joy and fulfilment one could get from loving children and on the other hand it’s also extremely exhausting and I have absolutely no time for myself at the moment. I’m also surprised that I enjoy my children more as they become toddlers, which is interesting considering the fact that I am a midwife and work with babies all the time!

What are the most important things you want to teach your children?

Just like my mother I want my children to be well mannered and respectful. Apart from that I hope they will grow up to be calm, tranquil people who know how to enjoy life. And I hope they will be able to do that which they love doing and that they will be happy; the wish of every mother I guess.

Written by sabineclappaert

May 7, 2011 at 8:46 am

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