The corner sofa is enormous, the kitchen table is long and wide – it can easily accommodate thirteen chairs. The coat rack in the hallway is stuffy, not a single free hook can be seen, and the shoe cabinet underneath is bloated. Can Anne-Marie Geerts (45) indicate which shoe belongs to which child? Can you be honest about it: No. This is a matter of some good thinking. “Ah, what do you want with eight kids?” she laughs. “I can see at a glance whether we are perfect or not. In a way I feel it. The dynamics are different when the older ones are tired or when the younger ones are in nursery or in bed.”
Today she is alone in her corner house in the Ypenburg district of The Hague. The house has been renovated twice (“Don’t start talking about it…don’t do that”) and once a big expansion, because otherwise it would never have fit. The children are now in school or nursery, and her husband is in the office. “It feels calm and empty. I miss the atmosphere, that chaos that I love so much.”
I hate children
That mess started over 22 years ago, when Anne-Marie was 23 and found out she was pregnant. It is not planned. Her husband Martin was still her boyfriend at the time. They lived side by side in their youth and started dating when Anne Marie was fifteen. But a wish for children? he was not there. Anne Marie was in the last year of her education in management, economics, and law and she wanted to become a career. “I didn’t like children. I even hated children. Yes, you could write it like that. I’ve never even had a baby before – the first thing I carried was my own. In those early days after I found out I was pregnant, all I could say was that I didn’t want that “. And with that the baby came. Because in addition to the child, love also grew in her body. She became interested in motherhood and Martin in fatherhood and family life together. They bought a new home, made a bed and got ready for something they had no idea about. The week after her due date, Anne-Marie took her last exam, “sighing and groaning” and two days later Jim was born. “It was uncomfortable, and sometimes also counterintuitive because all my fellow students kept going, they went to work, they went on a trip, and I spent whole days napping with a baby. But that’s exactly what made me finish. It was great, and I immediately felt: This is my turn. I got my degree with six week old Jim on my arm, after which I never used it again. I thought no matter what those business plans were. Most of all, I wanted to be a mother.” Nine months after giving birth, she became pregnant again. And again a year later, from the third. “We did it very quickly with the idea that then I would be working on my career again.”
loss of a child
She did not come from that profession. Or at least: not as planned. Her dream was to become a director of a large company, and now she maintains an Instagram page (demammavan) for her own company. Nearly 60,000 followers get an insight into her family of ten. At a Glance: Jim (21), Sam (19), Julia (18), Gus (12), twins Sar and Seuss (8), Jet (4) and Lotte (1). “After we had three kids, we didn’t tell each other we wanted five more. But I missed having a baby when he was the oldest of three kids in school. That’s why a fourth childhood came, and then I wanted to experience childhood again, well, then the twins came in. That was hard .and if you have two, there is little time to snuggle and cuddle such a child. So after that I wanted another child.” Lotji came after they thought that at the age of 44 things would not go smoothly with Anne Marie. “OK then.” he is busy. All the time. Children go in and out. The washing machine is always full. Also dried. The same goes for laundry baskets – they seem to have no bottom.
We almost lost each other
Structure is required in the Geerts family. In the closet in the living room is a large magazine rack with all the kids’ iPads under each other, labeled with names. Chargers are attached with tie coils, otherwise teens will run away. Every week Annemarie fills out a stamp chart of different colors and lists for her and her husband. Almost all children ride horses, the youngest have to go to swimming lessons, babysitting, sometimes a babysitter comes, they have to go to school, training, work, children’s parties, trips, friends. Between 1 and 2 p.m., when the house is empty, Anne-Marie sets herself a nap each day. What has come back in the last couple of years, since the twins have been here, is time together. Martin and I almost lost each other. We were always a team like this, until suddenly we had two kids at once which required all of our attention. We no longer know how to do it. No more asking each other how our day was. When the kids were in bed at seven, we’d sit on the sofa exhausted and do our own things. It was on the computer, and I string. Then days went by when we didn’t go up at the same time. Stop it… This is the fatal blow to your relationship. ”
Teenager is in love with someone else
Anne-Marie went to find her happiness outdoors, in a communal organic garden where you could grow crops. There was a man who cared for her. “It wasn’t an affair, but I was in love, right into adulthood. I remember sitting across from Martin at the kitchen table and smiling because I was thinking about the other person. Then I felt guilty. I realized I was already cheating on him. Then I told Martin. His reaction was sad. , but we both knew we had to solve it together. We can’t run this family without each other.” There was a rather tangible rescue attempt. After ten all the screens go off, together on the sofa, a glass of wine, he tells me. What did you do that day, what is bothering you? “Those were very intense talks, but they cleaned up the atmosphere and the situation got better.” They practiced their common ancient hobby, which is horse riding. So it is no longer just for the children to go to the riding school, but also for themselves. Martin got his motorcycle license, Anne Marie after that too. “This is our moment now, together on the bike.”
Selfish and polluted, eight children
“Isn’t he ready sometime?” It is a question that is asked regularly with another pregnancy. “There are people who have loved it and my parents, who have fathered three children, wisely shut their mouths and are always behind us. But I find this question really annoying.” She always answers “never say never,” because it’s none of anyone’s business and because she doesn’t feel like getting involved in it. What you also hear often, especially online, is that having such a large family is selfish and tainted. “In some people’s eyes, I will always be that devastating natural disaster. I can’t get past that. We’re also polluters, as a big family. We have a truck, a hideous thing that takes a lot of energy, and if we leave with all the puppies, including our elderly partners, we should.” Getting our second little car and renting an extra car We deal with dozens of nappies a day, for years On the other hand we don’t take big flights All of our kids are exploring and observing nature We give them a love for nature Take a look at it or look at all The diapers we use.”
Sexy suit with split
She knows she is making herself vulnerable on her social media. The photo in which she looks very visible, provocatively at the camera in a sexy suit with a plunging neckline? To be praised – or cursed harshly. “What to wear again,” is what was written afterwards, especially by other women. “Looks awful!” At the end of last year, Annemarie also received the Loden Leeuw Award, an award far from popular. She was vying for the title of “Most Disturbing Influencer”. Did he hit her? “I thought it was funny,” she says. “I put it right away in my Instagram bio. Because you know? I don’t see myself as influential. I want to show my real life followers. I’ve always seen moms as the sloppy types, with no time for themselves, mucus stains on clothes, no time to buy nice clothes.” Now it turns out: I’m just a mother. And I want to show that.”
The number of followers increased, the number of likes increased, and brands were able to find them. And so do the critics: She uses her offspring to get free stuff. “Yes, I get free things for my children, and I wouldn’t refuse it, because life is expensive with a big family, but that’s not what I do for it. I want to make it clear: this is how we do it. Watch.”
Feeling of growing up
Stop family expansion because people criticize? This never. “But I feel like I’m getting older, that’s why I’m not excited anymore. Pregnancy at a later age can cause complications for the baby, and what I also notice: my body recovers less after childbirth, I don’t feel old, but you have to do the math … when I went to high school and I would be sixty years old.” Moreover, the age difference also becomes significant between the eldest and the oldest; They didn’t even live at home together. The advantage is: Teens can easily babysit young children. “We get together every Sunday, including the elderly, one of whom is 21 already left home, and naturally takes on the role of parenting a little bit. Very nice. Then I am busy with drinks and snacks.” And then she can look around in the meantime, at all those rabble-rousers, all that fun at the table, the laughter of the kids, the jokes of the teens, Martin with those little guys busy. And yes. Then there is: messy happiness.
note. Follow Annemarie on Instagram.
Styling, hair and make-up: Ronald Huisinga. Thanks to: H&M, Liveslabel, Lollalisa, Mango, Maria van Pelt, Haut & Seen, Portrait Pegs, Ralph Lauren, S Oliver, Studio Lefchevn