Who Esmée Noëlle (32)
Mom of… Otis (2)
Work content creator, is working on her first book about the past year when Otis' father left her, she became a single mother and how to deal with heartbreak in such a situation.
Together with her son Otis, Esmée enjoys her caravan in Bakkum almost every week. Sunshine or rain, the two don't care at all. Put on your rain boots and go!
The most special thing about motherhood…
“That unconditional love I feel for Otis. From the moment Otis was still in my belly, I immediately felt a connection with him. I had also dreamed about him twice, very special. Thereby, I already knew what he would look like and that we were having a boy. Sometimes you hear that love has to grow, but that didn’t apply for me. The nice thing about Otis is that he is quite sensitive, but with a temper. He knows very well what he likes and doesn't like. For example, if Otis wants something to eat, he just grabs it from the kitchen cupboards. He not only says 'nee', but also 'no'. Hilarious! And if it's thirty degrees outside and mister wants to put on his wellies, I just take his sandals with me in my bag these days. He’ll realize that it is too hot. My motto: pick your battles.”
My motto: pick your battles’
What I didn’t expect…
“It's different raising your own child. I used to babysit a lot, including twins, from when they were six months old until primary school. They always listened to me very well. Still, Otis doesn't listen to me as well as those twins did back then. Even though I am quite strict and have clear rules; I believe that a child needs boundaries. Probably also a matter of 'strange eyes’ and the fact that you are more emotional with your own child. I just didn't see that coming.”
A moment to remember
“The most special thing during my pregnancy was when Otis appeared in a dream at 16 weeks and gave me two numbers. Eighteen and nineteen. I was due March 2nd, so he could be born two weeks earlier or later. He was eventually born on the night of February 18 to 19. Very special! Fortunately, shortly after that dream, I also told and wrote it down to others. Otherwise, I wouldn't even believe it myself, haha!”
‘During my pregnancy, I had a dream in which Otis told me his date of birth”
The story behind the name Otis
“We actually had the name already before I was pregnant. I always knew I had a great desire to have children. My mother and I have had a sort of obsession with children's names for years. For example, as soon as a celebrity has given birth, it is a sport for us to send it directly to each other and discuss what we think of that name. When I was eighteen I had a part-time job as a hostess for events and the owners of that company had a son: Otis. I thought it was such a special name at the time, that I wrote it on my name list. I kept track of that then. Because I thought: I’ll forget all those nice names, if I ever get pregnant. In the end I went through the list with my ex and with Otis he immediately said jokingly: "This is it!" I had a few other options, but it had to be Otis. I was just pregnant when my mother guessed it. She could see from my face that she was right. I have a very special bond with my mother. I really got that strength from her to go through with it after the divorce, despite the immense grief. My mother divorced my father four years ago. A tough and emotional time. So many things were recognizable to her, which certainly helped me after we broke up ourselves when Otis was one year old. It also brought my mother and me even closer together.”
The single motherhood
“I think it's great to see that I enjoy Otis a lot more. Especially when I compare it to his first year. That initial period felt quite frustrating to me, because my life had completely changed and my ex's hadn't really. Everything ended up on my shoulders much more, so that at home the walls quickly came down on me. Since we broke up, he has been with me four days a week, of which he goes to daycare on Thursdays, because of work. The other three are full mommy days. A luxury that this is possible, and I certainly enjoy that. And also the three days without him. In the beginning, I really didn't expect that I would have little trouble with that. The first few times, I found it very difficult when he was with his father. For example, I closed his bedroom door, so I didn't have to see his empty bed. Now I think it's totally fine. It also helps that I know that Otis has a lot of fun with his father. And of course, there are also really difficult moments. You can't just say to your partner; "You do this, I'll do that." Everything comes down to me these days. For example, on Friday and Saturday I often go to my caravan in Bakkum. Then I'll make sure I've packed the car on Thursday so that Otis is still in nursery school. Because once he's home, that's really impossible. It's just a lot of thinking ahead. At the same time, it also provides a lot of clarity. Fortunately, the contact with my ex is good. We report daily about Otis. Send photos and a short stories about what he experienced. Which animal he finds scary at the petting zoo, or whether he has watched a movie on the iPad for the first time. We still share the beautiful moments, but of course it remains a shame that you can't really share it at the moment with the person who loves your child as much as you do. I sometimes talk about it with friends, who say: such co-parenting doesn't even sound that bad. In fact, you should try to introduce some kind of co-parenting into your relationship. Now, for many couples, it often comes down to the woman.”
‘After Otis's dad left me, I didn't even know how to make it to the end of the day’
“I share a lot on Instagram and I get a lot of support and understanding from that. Although, I also find it difficult when I receive weekly messages from women who go through the same thing. That often triggers sadness for me, and I'm not always waiting for that. That's why I'm writing my book. A guide based on my own experiences with a broken heart and what you can do. After Otis's father left me, I didn't even know how to make it through the end of the day. I couldn't eat anymore, didn’t sleep and got into a kind of negative circle. So I decided to do all kinds of therapies. From a haptonomist and family constellation to cocoa ceremony. I share my experiences and explain what it means. I'm busy writing now and hope the book will be out sometime next year."
“A lot of people will fill in for you why it's over. Especially the people who stand further away from me, who follow me on social media and who would like to know all the details. I've been pretty open about my private life, of course, but I don't think it's in Otis's best interest to share everything in detail with the rest of the world. What I share is always with respect to the father of my child. He also knows that I am working on my book and supports that. What also happens a lot is that people immediately assume that I miss my child if I have to cry. That you almost feel guilty because that's not really the case. Like the other day when I was in Ibiza for nine days. I really enjoyed the first seven days, the last two I missed Otis a lot. It is also often the fear of others that they project onto you in their reactions.”
As a mother I am…
“Easy and clear. No really means no. Despite the crocodile tears, I can see through that. I also travel a lot with Otis, and I take him everywhere with me. In Amsterdam, where I live, I don't have a garden, and we often go to the playground or the park. As soon as we can, we go to the campsite in Bakkum. I’ve had a mobile home there for a year now. So nice! We are outside all day and have nice contact with all the neighbours. A lovely place!”
For me, relaxation is…
“Watching superficial TV shows like Love Island, Temptation Island, Be Like Monica and Married At First Sight. I also like to read. Often several books at the same time. I have now started in Karin Slaughter's new thriller, while I am also reading In Business, by my best friend Aranka van der Voorden, and Shirley Visser's book: The Introverted Mother. Furthermore, I always get very relaxed on the beach. I sometimes leave the baby monitor with the neighbors at the campsite and then cycle to the beach. It was nice to stare at the sea on my own.”
My morning routine
“Without Otis, I start slowly, take extensive time to wash my hair and look great. To finally wear those white clothes in my closet, haha! I often exercise before going to work. When I get up with Otis, I always make breakfast first. He always wakes up very hungry. Then he first eats a whole tub of cottage cheese and then a few bites of my yogurt. Delicious! When I'm free, I give him a nice bath afterwards. When I have to work, we do everything quickly, and I take him to the nursery on my bike before I go to work.”
“On Saturday evening, Otis is picked up by his father. Then I often meet up with friends. On Sundays, I rest or exercise. Monday and Tuesday I always work at the office; I rent a desk in the city. At the end of Tuesday, I pick up Otis from daycare. Wednesday is Mommy Day. When the weather is nice, we sometimes go to Bakkum for a day. And otherwise we go nice outside in our neighbourhood, or to friends with children. Thursday I go to the office and Otis to daycare. When the weather is nice, we often go to the campsite on Friday and Saturday. For Otis, I really like that we work with fixed days, so that he always knows where he stands. That is why I tell him clearly every day what we are going to do.”
I am proud that I am always open to taking a lesson from something.
The secret to a good work-life balance
“That is an eternal struggle for me. Although the structure I now have in my week helps a lot. But Bakkum confuses things again. For example, I really don't go to the office on hot Mondays and Tuesdays, instead I stay at the campsite. If my schedule allows, I work in the morning and relax in the afternoon. During my holiday I recently made a number of decisions that should give me more time for myself. For example, I recently hired a videographer to edit my vlogs, which saves me work. And I treated myself to a cleaner, fantastic! I now also consciously try to schedule time for myself alone, that really recharges me. Quite difficult with a rich social life. Although some friends also manage to help me with that. I'm also happy that the people I thought were my best friends have also proven in the past year that they are really there for me. Very nice."
To be proud of…
“That I have recovered so well after the past year. I was completely lost and really broken. I am proud that I am always open to taking a lesson from something. And, of course, sometimes things can be really bad. But in the end, it is very nice to notice that something beautiful and good can also come out of it. I'm very glad that I also dared to spend a lot of money on that crazy mobile home. Otis and I enjoy that so much. My mother also keeps saying: 'What a blessing that you have that place'."
‘When I saw his name engraved on the bracelet, I cried’
Jewellery that I wear everyday…
“The gold ring with a diamond that my grandmother gave me fourteen years ago. As a little girl, I loved that ring. She always promised that I would get it before my eighteenth birthday. When Otis was born, I was given a beautiful gold ring designed by a goldsmith, with the letter 'O' in it. Shortly after he was born, I also got the MAMALOVES bracelet with his name. The hormones were still coursing through my body, and when I saw his name engraved on it, I even cried. A very special gift! I also change earrings once every six months. I always sleep and shower with my jewellery. I'm just too lazy to take everything off over and over again. The only thing I don't wear is a watch. My wrists are too thin, so I don't like it. I've tried it once, but for the time being I'll check my phone anyway. So it has no added value for me.”
My tip for other mothers
“Don't forget to schedule time for yourself. That was also my pitfall that first year. I found it so hard to claim time for myself. For example, by booking a weekend away with a friend, or just doing something for myself for an afternoon. Then that guilt kicks in again. Many mothers sacrifice themselves too often. While you are the nicest mother if you take good care of yourself.”