Tefke van Dijk

I remember turning thirty very well. It was quite a party, with a big birthday cake from Sesame Street, because in 2005 the television show also celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. Five months before my birthday I had became a mother. I had made the deadline: having a child before thirty. Of course that was quite a strange deadline, but I started counting from my twenties. At first I wanted to have a baby in the year 2000, just for the fun of it.

When the new century started, I was a 24-year-old student who had no idea what to do with her life. So: no child for me at that time. My 7-year-older half sister did have a baby that year, by the way, which was quite frustrating. At that moment I set the clock at 30. The big thirty. Me and my boyfriend graduated, but had a hard time finding proper jobs. We were renting a room where we lived together. How much we wanted to make a step forward: getting a good job, finding an apartment or a house and then, maybe, getting married and having children.

I also started to have doubts about children. When I read stories about the misery in development countries and children who had no family and no home, I seriously doubted whether I should add another child to this world or adopt one and give it a good home. Other stories of the troubles it can give once they get teenagers (and maybe a little voice inside me) convinced me that I should have my own, if I would ever have children.

Since me and my boyfriend weren’t too happy about our lives we tried something different: first get married, then get a job and a house. We needed something to look forward to and a wedding we could plan. We really enjoyed making arrangements for the party. Our wedding was fantastic and the good thing was: it worked. Once we decided to marry I found a good job and we got a nice apartment.

We were just married when everybody talked about children, and how this was going to be the next step for us. We strongly denied everything. Having children had nothing to do with us getting married. Until one of my colleagues quite suddenly died of cancer. On her computer her son found a list of ‘things she wanted to do in her life’. I realized I also had a list like that. And having children was on it. We decided we did not want to have one of those lists. We could die tomorrow, you never know. We knew we wanted to have children together: why not start now? So we did. It felt like another interesting project: let’s see if this is also something we can do.

When I was pregnant, two months later, it was quite a shock. Okay, so now this baby was going to be here in nine months. Although we knew this could happen, we did not expect it to happen so soon. After a good pregnancy our son was born on the 4th of May. I was completely flabbergasted. Of course I knew I was going to have a baby, but I had no idea what that would be like and how it would made me feel. Of our friends we were the very first and my sister lives far away, so we had hardly any reference.

I immediately loved my son, this thing called mother love really exists. At the same time I was quite stressed. In taking care of him, but also of the idea we wanted to have more than one child. Since we also did not want a big age difference between them, it meant we would have to start working on the second child pretty soon already. Two years and one month later we also had a beautiful baby daughter.

And so my life was signed. I had a job and a house, and I was married with children. That’s it, right? Luckily I found out this does not have to be the end of your life. Your personal development doesn’t stop, if you don’t want it to. I have a rich life, with a sweet husband and two lovely children, I have a nice place to live and keep myself quite busy with work. I haven’t got a list of ‘things I want to do in my life’ anymore, but I will always have dreams.

photo: Debbie Bernasco, www.bernasco.nl
Tefke van Dijk
I had made the deadline: having a child before thirty
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