NETHERLANDS: Interview With Coretta Vermeulen

NETHERLANDS: Interview With Coretta Vermeulen

Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

My name is Coretta Vermeulen. I am a 1970’s child, the daughter of my 81 year old mom and my dad who would have turned 88 today. I’m the mother of three kids by birth, bonus mom of two, and spare grandmom of one.

I was born and raised in the Netherlands. Now, this is not a big country, but I took a giant leap of faith moving from a small town in the North to the big city of Amsterdam. Oh, I can tell you stories about that!!! And I will, in time.

What language(s) do you speak?

My native tongue is Dutch, but I also read, write and speak English and German. In Dutch high schools, learning foreign languages is mandatory. Whoo, lucky me!

When did you first become a mother (year/age)?

I became a mom at age 27. I was drawn to the man who fathered my oldest son (oh, I can tell you stories about that!!!) because of his interaction with his then 4-year-old daughter. I actually never wanted kids before, not because I didn’t love kids (I did), but because of the whole lifetime relationship with someone who claimed to be the dad. I really hadn’t had the best example, daddy-wise. It freaked me out. But this man was so sweet with his daughter, giving her attention, revolving his whole life around her. So I thought: what the heck, let’s just go for it. As days became weeks (yeah, that fast!) I noticed the psychiatric imbalances in him: it ruined a perfectly good man with a good heart. But by then I was already pregnant, and I decided to just make the best out of everything. Who knows how far I could come with him? After all, my love for him would cure him, right? And then there was his daughter, who was depending on me too. So, we gave it a shot.

Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?

I’ve been working on and off since I became a mother. I had my teaching diploma, but there was little work in schools for young teachers. Fortunately, my then husband had been putting up a remedial program for dyslexic kids, and they could use me in it. So we worked both half a week, bringing our son to his grandparents once a week. It was the perfect balance. Until it all blew up in my face.

After my divorce and move to Amsterdam, I had a 40 hour work week at a school with lots of different ethnicities, young kids aged 4 to 6/7 years old. I took my son to school with me. After a while, I could ask some parents to babysit while I was having conferences, meetings, and the like. I remember this time as one of my strongest periods. I was so proud that I did this, all alone, recovering from an abusive marriage, recovering from very strong and powerful family ties, having a 40 hour job that I loved. I lived the insecure life of illegal sublet housing before I got my own place, redone and redecorated just by me, the handy-gal. I was a single mom in a strange city, and even considered having a second child by myself.

A series of incidents made me realize that although I AM a teacher, I cannot be bound by rules and regulations that I don’t support, and that do not support teachers or students. As my life took a turn to the worse, I gave up on teaching and haven’t been working since. I met my current husband, married and moved again. We had two children, and I stayed at home.

That’s going to end though, but I will tell that some other time, too.

Why do you blog/write?

I have always loved writing, but I am a little shy. At 46, I recognize that every artist is unsure about his or her own talent, even when someone performs daily over a period of years. So the writing thing (singing thing, creating thing, painting thing) never really left the building, except sometimes on Facebook or Google-Blogger. I do get nice responses, but I tend to think people are “just saying that to not make me feel too bad”. I recently auditioned to be a singer in a band nearby, but I’ve not heard from them. I guess the singing thing will stay at home with me, but I hope I will do a better job at the writing thing.

We have a very different family, which you all will definitely come to know. Writing about the things we experience daily helps me in a lot of ways, and I think maybe other people might benefit from it, if I can make someone smile or see things in another perspective, like it does to me.

What makes you unique as a mother?

I don’t consider myself special or unique. I am just a girl who gave birth to some live dolls. I act out like a little girl all the time. But that’s just a phase I’m in right now.

I think that my YOUNIQUENESS lies in being authentic. Although I try to hide my bad moods and not project my problems/emotions onto my family members, I really can’t. So yeah, sometimes I shout and yell and curse, but mostly that is pure and utter frustration from my side, after having said something for the @#$%&*! time, or tripping over shoes in front of the doorway, or picking up laundry from all over the house. I am consequently inconsequential, and that is a good thing, because I am flexible like that. I am NOT a hover-mom: my 9 year old daughter cycles to school on her own, facing traffic and traffic rules and teenagers blocking her way and what not. I haven’t seen the inside of her school for months now. I let her walk our big dog, because I trust them both. I let her go shopping for me and smile and praise her when she’s done her best finding the right groceries but ending up with completely different stuff than I asked for.

What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?

Although there is a lot going on in the world, and it seems like the worst time to grow up, I don’t consider that being a parent is very difficult at all. From the births of my children, I have watched them grow just on their own. I could look at them for hours! How they discovered their hands, their feet, getting a reaction from repeatedly taking off their socks, being completely startled when first rolling over or standing up, and then the smile of triumph. All you have to do is put some food, love and trust in them, and the rest comes naturally. I believe in raising our kids authentically, with common sense, trusting their innate qualities and abilities, following some simple guidelines, parenting out of love and not fear, nurturing body, mind and heart. We need to set our own boundaries in which children can grow and discover safely. Above all, I want my children to be genuine, true to themselves, believing in themselves, being able to trust themselves as much as others.

How did you find World Moms Blog?

I’ve been reading World Moms Blog for quite some time now, as I am Facebook friends with other bloggers. I love reading about the interaction with our sprouts, the dos and dont’s, the similarities and the differences across the world, in different cultures. As a child, I always thought that my mother knew exactly what she was doing and why. After being a mom for almost 19 years now, I still don’t have a clue, and sometimes I’m even scared of being caught at it, so people can see: See, she acted like she knows everything about it, but look at her! I recently learned there’s a term for that, the  “imposter syndrome”

But I’ve come to terms with just doing what I do and hope for the best. Up to now, I think we have managed just fine.

Photo credit: Coretta Vermeulen.

Coretta Vermeulen

I'm Coretta, a former teacher. I'm married, and the mother of an 18 year old son, a 9 year old daughter and a 10 year old son, and bonus mom and grandmomship. Our 10 year old son Fygo has brain damage due to near drowning and has no use over his body, except for his eyes and ears. He lives with us at home and visits a special school. We try to live "a normal live" as much as possible.

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USA: Global Village Membership

USA: Global Village Membership


If you’re a parent, or a child, or anyone, you may have heard the phrase. “It takes a village” (to raise a child). After reading a post written by a fellow contributor, KC, I remained in thought about this village that’s needed to raise our children.

KC is currently a stay-home-mum to a precious toddler, so you know she has one of the most rewarding and challenging positions in the universe; one weighted with a lot of responsibility, as well. Thankfully she takes the time to write about some of what’s going on in her world as a mum, a woman, and as a person, because out of her writing I found something I want to discuss, too. Check her out at  She is a really good writer, and she’s funny too.

In reading KC’s post I thought about my own experience as a child in Italy, a teenager in Tanzania, and an adult and parent in the United States. What was my village like? Who did my mum include in forming my personality and my worldview?



I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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USA: A Dinosaur

USA: A Dinosaur


When I think of my own elementary school experience, I remember recess games and lunch time chats. I remember “round robin” reading and math fact drills. I remember class time and spelling tests, but I also remember having time to play with my friends, and that was one of the highlights of going to school. We were able to have two times a day where we had unstructured recess time to just go outside and have time to play with our friends. (more…)

Meredith (USA)

Meredith finds it difficult to tell anyone where she is from exactly! She grew up in several states, but mainly Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana which is also where she met her husband. She taught kindergarten for seven years before she adopted her son from Guatemala and then gave birth to her daughter two years leter. She moved to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and two children in July 2009 for her husband's work. She and her family moved back to the U.S.this summer(August 2012) and are adjusting to life back in the U.S. You can read more about her life in Lagos and her adjustment to being back on her blog: We Found Happiness.

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UAE: I Wish We Didn’t Have to Have “Day of the Girl”

UAE: I Wish We Didn’t Have to Have “Day of the Girl”


“My grandmother told me that a woman is like the neck and the man is the head,” my student said. “Important but supportive.” The rest of the students in my class on “Global Women Writers” nodded their head in agreement. None of the students is from the same country—in fact, their nationalities pretty much span the globe—but apparently they’d all been given similar sorts of instructions. One girl had been told that she should plan on being an accountant because it would be easy to quit when she got married; another girl said that her mother worried that her brains were going to be threatening to her potential husband.

It’s been interesting to listen to these girls—young women, really—explore history and culture through our readings: we’ve spent time in ancient Japan with Lady Murasaki and Sei Shonagon, visited 17th century Spain with Sor Juana, bounced around the 19th century with Mary Shelley (and her mother Mary Wollstonecraft) and Charlotte Bronte; read Chimimanda Adichie’s TED Talk “We Should All Be Feminists,” and then traced Adichie’s ideas back to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own—and back again to Sor Juana.

The list of readings is longer than what I have listed here—we will go to India, New Zealand, Egypt, Nigeria, and the UAE before the term is over—but the students have already noticed a pattern. No matter where we are in time and space, we find variations on the same theme: lack of access. Lack of access to money, education, safety, autonomy—the particulars may change, but always the obstacles seem rooted in the material reality of being female, and how the category of “woman” has been valued (or devalued) through the course of human history.

2015 13Oct WMB Quote Deborah Quinn

Sor Juana joined a convent so that she could pursue her studies instead of being forced into marriage and motherhood; Jane Eyre famously declared that women “feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint … precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings…”

“I love Jane,” exclaimed one student when we read that passage in the novel. “It’s like she’s speaking to me!” When students respond to ideas in the course, I am always delighted, but in this instance, I had to pause.

What does it mean that the struggles of an early 19th century heroine still resonate with a 21st century reader? I know, of course, that men struggle with feeling limited in their choices—as I remind my students, “gender” is something everyone has (although I’ve noticed that when students talk about “gender roles” they mostly talk about women). All the same, however, wouldn’t you have thought that by 2015, we would laugh at the attitudes Jane complains about because they seem so old-fashioned? Instead we experience a flash of recognition that in Jane’s world, as in our own, society insists on placing boundaries around women’s lives.

When I proposed teaching this course, a colleague asked why I had to specify “women.” She wondered why I didn’t just teach a course called “The Global Novel” or something like that. It’s a reasonable question, I suppose, but I think the answer connects, in a way, to why the United Nations decided, two years ago, to declare 11 October the International Day of the Girl: “Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights.”  (Click here to see how World Moms Blog celebrated this day.)

Don’t get me wrong – I am the mother of two boys (and no daughters) and while I know that my sons face gender-related struggles, I also know (because I was once a girl, and am now verging on “crone”) that men have not been as systematically pushed to the margins of history. It’s why we have “Secretary Day,” in the U.S., rather than “CEO Day.” We create formal occasions to notice those who would otherwise be silenced, overlooked.

 I teach “Global Women’s Writing” because we live in a world where “woman” gets all too easily pushed out of the picture. Ironically, I teach the course in hopes that one day I won’t need to.  Perhaps my students–our children–will inherit a world where we don’t need “International Day of the Girl” or a course in “women” writers. Do you think we’ll ever get there?

This post is original to the World Moms’ Blog. Deborah Quinn occasionally blogs at and writes a regular column for The National, the English-language paper of the UAE.  Her most recent column can be found here.

Photo credit to the author.

Mannahattamamma (UAE)

After twenty-plus years in Manhattan, Deborah Quinn and her family moved to Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates), where she spends a great deal of time driving her sons back and forth to soccer practice. She writes about travel, politics, feminism, education, and the absurdities of living in a place where temperatures regularly go above 110F.
Deborah can also be found on her blog, Mannahattamamma.

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UNITED KINGDOM: Parenting by Example

UNITED KINGDOM: Parenting by Example

I have been pondering this topic a lot just recently, it’s a biggie. We have a massive responsibility as parents to raise our children to be good citizens. To help them to develop the character traits that will make for a well-rounded adult, you know the kind of things.

We feel we ought to help them to be loving, tolerant, resilient, kind, honest, courageous, patient, responsible and self-disciplined. Realistically those are just a few of the traits many of us want our child to display, some parents will be looking for a high level of competitive spirit leading to academic achievement or sporting success and others are much more interested in their child displaying empathy and nurturing others.

Whatever it is you want your child to develop or display the scary realism is that you need to be demonstrating it to them, as children learn what they live.

We cannot just tell them how we would like them to be and hope they do not notice our actions nor replicate our imperfections, sadly that just does not work. Have you ever seen the poem by Dorothy Law Nolte? She wrote it back in 1972 but it is as relevant now as it was then. Have a read:

Dorothy Law Nolte Poem

I try to read this poem regularly as I believe every parent should, because it reminds me that to display the positive and to affirm is so much more powerful than to criticise. Even when that criticism is done with good meaning ‘Oh Jenny, you got a B grade, that is very good but I know you can get an A if you try a little harder’.

Do you know what Jenny hears? She hears I’m not good enough. Isn’t that worrying? It is such a fine balance to parent in a way that encourages the child to stretch themselves and to achieve all they can whilst also leaving their sense of self-worth intact.

A good example of children learning what they live was demonstrated to me the other day by one of my 7-year-old girls when they were in the car with me. We were driving along and someone stopped in front of me due to a traffic jam, it was perfectly acceptable to do so, and I had no issue with it. Quick as a flash Miss E shouts ‘Oi, get a move on, we’re in a hurry you idiot’. To say I was shocked is an understatement. Firstly, we were not in a hurry, secondly, I never use the word idiot, and thirdly, this is my quieter child!

‘Where on earth did that come from Miss E?’ I ask her and she starts to look a little sheepish. ‘Well, Mummy’ pipes up her more vocal twin sister ‘when we were coming home from gymnastics last week and that man nearly made you crash, you shouted at him and told him he was stupid’. Ah yes, I remember that and start to state my case ‘but Miss M that man was driving the wrong way in a car park and came out of nowhere driving far too fast and…’ and then I tail off. It is true the situation was different (to an adults eyes), but to the child, all they had learnt was that if someone drives a car in a way you don’t like you shout abuse at them.  Whoops, parenting fail!

It is a tough learning curve, this parenting lark, but if we are willing to persevere and learn from our children we will grow better at it, but boy does it take some work. I know for sure it is worth it though. Thank you for all you teach me my babies. This mummy will keep on trying her best, and I’m sure I’ll muck up again but do you know what? That is OK, as long as I acknowledge it and apologise because then I am teaching my kids one of the most important messages, that it is OK to mess up and then try again. We all make mistakes and we can all move on.

How about you, any good learning you want to share with us?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Michelle Pannell of Mummy from the Heart

Michelle Pannell

Michelle’s tales of everyday life and imperfect parenting of a 13-year-old boy and 9-year-old twin girls and her positive Christian outlook on life have made her name known in the UK parenting blogosphere. Her blog, Mummy from the Heart, has struck a chord with and is read by thousands of women across the world. Michelle loves life and enjoys keeping it simple. Time with her family, friends and God are what make her happiest, along with a spot of blogging and tweeting, too! Michelle readily left behind the corporate arena but draws on her 25 years of career experience from the fields of hotel, recruitment and HR management in her current voluntary roles at a school, Christian conference centre, night shelter and food bank. As a ONE ambassador, in 2012 Michelle was selected to travel on a delegation to Ethiopia with the organisation to report on global poverty and health. Then in 2014 she was invited to Washington, DC, where she attended the AYA Summit for girls and women worldwide. When asked about her ambassadorship with the ONE Campaign, she stated, "I feel humbled to be able to act as an advocate and campaigner for those living in poverty."

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