Even though our Delft Mama of the week, Lucie, has a BA in English as a second language and she did a master’s in English in women studies, she never dreamed of setting up an international network of moms until she did just that. Our mom of the week is the mother of a 12-year-old Loic, but she is also the founding mother of Delft MaMa. Now nine years, awards and countless nominations later, the group Lucie set up has expanded from twenty moms to several hundreds of parents and her legacy is living stronger than she had ever imagined.
Lucie moved to Delft 13 years ago with her husband Scott. Soon after they were expecting a baby. It was the first pregnancy, first child and she was abroad. Lucie’s family couldn’t visit and the friends that she made right away weren’t her age. At this point Lucie didn’t know anything for internationals, moms or moms to be.
Thanks to a language course and some sound advice Lucie received from a fellow foreigner, she found herself on the right track of learning the language and was able to read books about childbirth in the Netherlands to soothe her nerves. That led her to going to the Dutch midwife and taking a pregnancy prenatal course in Dutch. “I was the only foreigner there, but they were really friendly and took me under their wing. I finally had found some other mothers who were due around the same time as me. Some of us decided to take a baby massage class and it was just nice to have that community feeling.” During the last month of Lucie’s pregnancy – through a lucky coincidence – she finally met some international moms. “It was really nice to have this international community and we became very good friends, but almost all the ladies that were there, had had a very bad experience of childbirth in the Netherlands. It was conflicting with what I was reading and experiencing with Dutch moms. I decided to block those negative stories and have the experience for myself. I’m glad I did that. The more people I would meet through the international community, the more they were saying how they felt lonely and didn’t experience the pregnancy how they would’ve experienced it in their own country. It was heart-breaking. When my son was almost two, I came up with the concept of Delft MaMa. I was going through something personal with my family and my mother’s health and all those things were quite heavy and made me write a very very long plan. I went to the office for volunteer work in Delft and there was a gentleman there who said it was a great concept. He told me where to go to discuss it further. I got very lucky; the person who received me was about to become a mom and she really understood everything I was going through. She advised me to approach a new association in Delft called “Voor Delft”. Basically it was an association to help residents of Delft set up a social initiative.”
Lucie heard about a contest where you had to send in your idea. The competition was open for another three days and she had never written anything in Dutch before. Her original concept was 14 PowerPoint slides full with text and now Lucie had to shrink it all down to a hundred words. “I came up with a concept with the multicultural baby festival and the information fair about prenatal and postnatal care, all of it was all in my head already. It wasn’t just coffee mornings that I was thinking about, it was a proper nonprofit organization that would improve society by bridging communication between Dutch institutions and international and Dutch moms. I entered the contest and they said there were so many good ideas that instead of only funding and coaching one, they were going to do ten. Delft MaMa was one of them and it became the longest funding that they gave, because it was such a good example of when an idea is nurtured, good things can happen.”
Things were evolving fast. Next thing Lucie knew, she was getting a training for women in boards of foundations and associations. Lucie had her doubts in the beginning, but courageously decided to jump in anyway. Her timing could not have been better and things seemed to be falling into place quickly. After a year of coaching Lucie’s team received a grant and Delft MaMa was finally registered as an organization on August 13th in 2007 “We were given the opportunity to organize a week long multicultural baby festival at public library DOK. We had an art exhibition about the traditions when people celebrate the birth a of child all over the world. At the same year we did baby information fair with the topic of pregnancy, childbirth and kraamzorg at the Grotius College. It all went smoothly. The board worked really hard and we were very well received. We got so many compliments especially about the festival which was such a universal topic. We started on a very high note. We tried over the years to have regular events and we usually have found funding for that, but it takes a lot of energy, a very strong team and a project manager behind that. The last few years we have been focusing on workshops, news, interactions, asking question and seeing one another often, but the educational and cultural background has always been there and it’s coming back just in time for the 10th anniversary.”
Lucie seems to have a golden touch and a rare ability to be able to nurture thoughts into action. She’s curious and quirky by nature and it surely does take a special kind of a woman to make this all happen. In nine years Delft MaMa has changed a lot, not only in its size – going from twenty mothers to hundreds of members – but with its target group as well. The group has gone from targeting advice and guiding to parents with newborns and toddlers to targeting parents with children up till 12 years of age. But the essence of the group has only flourished. Lucie describes Delft MaMa as supportive, interactive, diverse, educational and open-minded, and perhaps for the manifestation of these is why for many people Delft MaMa has been a convincing factor when choosing to move to Delft. “To see my legacy like this is very touching. Sometimes I see people on the street and I wonder if they know there is a huge community, if they are only tourists or living here. Thankfully, we always have flyers at the midwives and the midwives are very pro-Delft MaMa. In the beginning I constantly had to explain why this is needed and after two years gradually some of the projects we set up were taken over by Dutch organizations, like a Kraam fair with the hospital or Uitmarkt by DOK library. Suddenly it was obvious moms in general would enjoy and need it and that there was a market for service providers and stores. All of it became very clear. It’s very touching. I never started Delft MaMa because I thought I was a supermom. I had a lot of doubts. I’m still not a parenting expert. Some people have a calling to be a midwife or a nurse. I experienced the need to have a safety net to feel at home in a new environment to become the mom who you never knew you could be with the ups and the downs. People keep telling me that they think my journey is an inspiration. They think “if you can do it, then I can do it.” They are feeling encouraged to start their own business or another playgroup. I never thought I would be cut for this, but when I see there’s a need for something, even if I’m not the most qualified person to do it, I’ll try to set it up. I’m good at setting up, I’m not good at maintaining it, because I always need some change. I see potential and people that I can bring together. I still keep joining new committees and thinking how to make Delft an even nicer place.”
The next Delft Mama of the week will be published on 26th of August.