‘It was not an option for him to live in the Netherlands’


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Iris van Holingen (38 years old) is a single mother to Isa (6 years old). She is a children’s coach and develops tasks that put children in touch with themselves.

“Motherhood woke me up. It was only when Isa arrived that I saw that my life wasn’t quite right. I followed her father Mike so much in his wild thoughts, and as a result I ended up in tents in Spain with a newborn and we lived on my mother’s gifts.

A taste of rural life

I met Mike about eight years ago. I was in my thirties, and I struggled with speed in the Western world. I wanted more contact with nature, so I left for Malta to live and work for a start-up environmental community. In the community, urban residents get a taste of rural life.

I met Mike, a great character: big and tough. I finally thought someone my age. Turns out he was only 23 years old. Motivated by some kind of anger towards the whole world, he made the biggest plans. He was convinced that it was the best he could build his presence outside of society. His self-confidence impressed me, though at first I thought he was full of himself.

After a while I let myself be tempted and something beautiful arose between us. For eight months we lived with other co-workers from the community. We grew the vegetables ourselves and Mike cooked them for us over an open fire. We built houses, made clothes, and held yoga sessions and drum circles. Mike wanted to go to Sweden, where his roots lie. Felt like a Viking. But first we will have a short layover in Holland, to make some money and see my family.

out of love

In Holland, I went back to my old life and found out I was pregnant. The baby wasn’t quite planned, but welcome. Living in the Netherlands was not an option for Mike. With his American passport, he could not work here and felt useless. With our last money, we moved not to Sweden, but to southern Spain because life is cheaper there. I had a great time in Holland, but out of love I moved with him.

We went to the exchange business project again. It was very hot and the project was a mess. Not the best place to stay broken and big belly. We lived on the money my mother sent.

You have ignored the fact that a lot of things in our lives have not gone well. We had no fixed income, no permanent place to live, however I trusted Mike, he was very self-confident. He would often say that people would send him money, but they never did. He tried to take good care of me, but he always chose the hardest path. We lived in a remote area, and shopping took hours because he started walking, while he could also drive with a neighbour.

“We took nice walks and swim in the river every day until it disappeared in the heat”

But somehow we had such a nice time there, taking nice walks and swimming in the river every day, until it disappeared due to the heat. We moved into an empty house, higher on a mountain and much cooler. This is where labor started, but when things didn’t go well, I had to go to the hospital, for an hour’s drive on bumpy roads.

Read also – Serap gave birth very early during the honeymoon: ‘I was lying there, in a creaking hospital bed in Spain’

give up dream

Then we and Isa were allowed to live on the property of the Dutch people, in tents. Meanwhile, the weather turned and this tent wasn’t fun at all. I longed to go back to Holland, Mike to America. We didn’t argue, but we saddened that we had to give up on our dreams.

“Meanwhile, the weather had turned and this tent wasn’t fun”

I went with our daughter to live with my mother in Utrecht. Mike wanted to stay close to us and went with us to Holland. But since my mother could not accommodate the three of us, he moved to live with his friends in another city. From time to time we were together, but building a family was not possible. Mike felt paralyzed and couldn’t really settle down here. I paid for his plane ticket to America, and we never ended our relationship.

live your own life

At first I missed it badly, even though I knew it wasn’t good for me. I completely forgot myself in this relationship, I followed him blindly in his adventures. Now I see that I have always been on the run, including from myself. I had to know the direction I wanted my life to go instead of following a man in his plans. When I became a mother, I felt like I wasn’t right, because my daughter wanted to learn how to really take life. By living with my mother again and studying, I had the opportunity to rebuild my life.

“I should have known which direction I wanted to go instead of following a man in his plans”

We now live alone, in a residential community, and have started my own business. I can take care of myself and Iza. And most importantly: I trust myself, in what I want and what I can do. We have occasional contact with Mike. Since then he has moved from America to Portugal and is still moving from one place to another. I hope he will also find a way to arrange his life so that there is more space for communication between my daughter and her father. I was born out of our love and I want to hold on to that feeling.”

This article is from Kek Mama Love Special 2022.

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