Ten years ago our mom of the week, Maya, met her Dutch husband Erwin. Now they are parents of a six-year-old Naama and Boaz who just turned four. Maya grew up in Israel, studied and did the obligatory military service there before moving abroad. She was familiar with the Netherlands before meeting her husband, but never thought she’d be living in Holland – but as faith would often have it, it’s exactly where she ended up. Just like most expats, being far from extended family has taught Maya other ways of having a safety net around her, and she feels Delft MaMa is now her family, too. “For me Delft MaMa is one of the strongest attraction points of Delft. For all of us who don’t have a family here, this group of wonderful people is it”, Maya declares.
I asked to interview her, because not only was she nominated by some of the previous mothers, but because I found out Maya recently had started studying again. She did her bachelor’s in biology and her master’s degree in immunology back in Israel. This year she enrolled to school to get a degree to become a dietitian. Even though the field is familiar to her, it’s Maya’s first time writing scientific reports in Dutch. Not surprisingly she’s up for the challenge.
Maya has been through many things in her life and it seems her struggles and over-comings have given her wisdom to share. In 2003 Maya was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis), which is a central nervous system disease. As a biologist, Maya finds the right words to describe MS in a simplistic language. She says no MS patient is similar with the next one, which makes the disease sometimes difficult to predict. Patients can have long periods of calmness and suddenly get triggered and experience an attack. “MS holds me back in certain things, but when you are a creative person, limitations are actually something that contribute to your growth”, Maya explains and continues by telling how through MS she has been able to grow spiritually stronger. She says it’s most limiting and most liberating at the same time, because she would have never dared to do certain things she does today if it wasn’t for the disease. Physical restrictions also made Maya look at the world differently. From experience Maya knows it’s not beneficial for anyone to fight a lost cause and she points out more or less everyone suffers from this from time to time: “It’s important to see what you can do and not to beat yourself up about the things you cannot do. It’s essential to have some positive movement, even if it’s small, like practicing a new skill. Doing something will eventually build up to a momentum.”
According to Maya everyone should figure out their “Mountain”. With this, she refers to her favorite Ted Talk by Roei Sadan. Sadan traveled the world and went through exceptional physical challenges, until he fell badly in the Himalaya’s. Maya identifies herself in Sadan’s talk about being grateful for challenges and being realistic yet optimistic about the dreams you want to fulfill. The Mountain is a big dream of a person that at a distance often intimidates the climber, but close up it’s nothing more than just taking one step at a time in your own phase. “I think this applies to everyone, but especially to mothers. We need to love ourselves more and not compare. I have had problems with my physical limitations and showing my disability with my Nordic walking sticks was hard at first, but only when we learn to accept ourselves we can truly develop more as humans”, Maya calmly says. She is fascinated about nature and goes onto explaining how she loves that every living entity has a different tempo and style of striving. “This is the beauty of this world. When you plant seeds, some grow fast, others take time. We all have a right to be here exactly like we are”, she sums up her philosophy.
Physically Maya’s good days come and go and she has learned to live with that. She tells me in her youth she was constantly riding an emotional rollercoaster, but eventually came to understand she simply couldn’t always be strong. Finally giving into the feelings Maya learned to accept it was the only way to regain her power. “I learned I needed to feel and that gave me power”, Maya says and continues telling the importance of listening to an emotion. She simply says if you’re are not pleased with something, then do something about it instead of getting paralyzed by the emotion, as every emotion has a task. “If you don’t like something, change it or your perception to it, as long as you deal with it!” When she was younger, she would only trust her brain, but later felt that the brain will always find a way of justifying things. These days Maya trusts her gut feeling, as so far it hasn’t been wrong.
Listening to Maya gives me goosebumps every now and again. She challenges to change my perception and understand myself better just by telling a few anecdotes. Last time I had a talk with her, I teared up, because she said to me the exact words I needed to hear at that time. She almost does it again, unintentionally, and for that reason alone the talk with her leaves me ever so grateful.