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Delft Mama of the week: Oriana

After the fall of the Berlin wall at the brink of her teenage years, Oriana and her parents moved to the Netherlands. Things weren’t changing in their native land of Romania as much as they had hoped and the family decided to look to the west for future. Before settling in Delft Oriana moved around the country from Drenthe to Limburg and from Nijmegen to Amsterdam. Now Oriana lives in the center with her husband Wim and their 12-year-old daughter Maud.

Oriana discovered Delft MaMa three years ago after setting in the city. Although she feels quite Dutch, after having lived in different countries across Europe and being brought up biculturally herself, she wanted to keep the international vibe in her life also for her daughter’s sake. A little googling helped Oriana to find the beautiful community of families across the globe right in her own hometown. She hasn’t been attending DMM children’s activities as most of them are aimed for younger kids, but she is a familiar sight at Delft MaMa’s movie nights and ladies nights out and she volunteers by writing insightful blogposts for the community. With her mama friends Oriana has been nurturing an idea of organizing something for bigger children as well. “We could do something for older kids once a month or so. For example going outdoors, playing computer or board games, attending events together, such as the Museumnacht and so forth. We could at least try it out one time,” she says.

Oriana and her husband are active parents of one child, but the family also has a fourth member, an angel baby Felix. “Our family consists of four people. Although he is not here, Felix is a part of our family. Our daughter still talks about him and we talk about him in our household. He is a constant presence in our lives”, she says. The family were living in Brussels when Oriana was expecting Felix. After the first trimester it became clear that there was something wrong, and Oriana had scans and tests for weeks in a row. “It was dreadful, but it was clear that the baby had three medical conditions that made him not viable at all. It was our own choice to end the pregnancy, because he was going to die in my belly, but the doctors couldn’t tell me when. Our daughter was seven at the time, looking at the belly growing and not really understanding what was going on”, Oriana explains and makes sure to point out this was their choice and she fully understands different choices too. Reminiscing makes her emotional, but she stresses that this is an important subject to talk about. “You don’t get over losing a child, but it does get easier with time. Mourning is a very personal and life defining process, and for many parents who lose their children, it is sometimes a very lonely process as the outside world does not know how to react. Losing our son in the fifth month of pregnancy, after dealing with years of trying to conceive and many IVF treatments, this really made me think what I want to do with my life. The experience changed me completely,” Oriana says.

When Oriana went through that extremely difficult period of her life, it took her quite a few years to make peace with that. She did career coaching and realized she wanted to work closer with people. Now Oriana coaches, counsels and recruits, but hopes in the future to combine her prior experiences of intercultural communications to her current business. “I already have tried to give combined training of everything I’ve done. It’s really amazing to see how people respond to it. Sometimes they are not just aware of themselves, like the way you express yourself, talk to people, approach others or behave in a certain setting. It’s all about communicating. Being aware of your own trades, abilities and limitations, especially nowadays when we live in a multicultural world where things are changing fast – even if it’s for the better -you still need sometimes help to get your message across. It’s a nice journey to discover yourself”, Oriana adds shining a light to her expertise. Having had to adapt herself in her early years to the Dutch society, Oriana has gotten the sharp eye of understanding yet being able to see Dutch culture as an outsider too. Through her life and training she has learned many cultures have difficulties with the Dutch directness. “The Dutch might say *this is how it is* without meaning it’s this way. But many people perceive it this way. It’s thought here merely as something to make a point where the discussion can start”, explains Oriana about the Dutch directness.

To keep her mind focused, Oriana has some rituals that she tries to hold onto. One of these is having time for herself in the morning, despite not being a morning person. “I don’t meditate, but before the day starts I really like having quiet time for myself and not having to hurry.” Oriana’s parents were agnostics and as a child she used to go to the church with her grandmother every now again, but to this day is not sure whether she is a spiritual person or not. “I’m still searching. I do believe there is something else out there. I believe that it is all possible, but I just don’t believe there’s only one answer.” Although Oriana is not a big fan of institutions, she does believe in rituals and rites of passage and continues explaining how we each have our things, rituals that we can do every day, but we also have rites of things we go through life. A long time ago there were rites of passage when a child was born, when you became a woman or a man. These things still happen, but the rituals are gone. Oriana points out rituals are excellent at bonding friendships and other relationships. And it is empowering to stop and mark for yourself important changes in your life, celebrating and sharing it with the ones that matter . Oriana tells me about her family rituals: “Every weekend we try to have a big breakfast together with my husband and daughter. It’s really nice to have a table full of food and time for each other. We sit, play music, read the paper, dance. For us it’s really important. We don’t go to church, instead we do that.”

It’s evident she has been through a lot of soul searching in her life and after sitting through the interview it doesn’t surprise me one bit that she says: “One of the most important thing is that we all need to use more kindness and compassion, especially to yourself.” When she speaks, she’s present in all of her words. She’s a thinker who manages to mobilize her thoughts into action. There is an immense charisma and kindness shining through Oriana, and once again I’m left in pure awe.

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Tarja Van Veldhoven

Finnish-Delftian mom of three, married to a Dutch man with a decade long blogging history.

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