‘The Seven Moms of the Vondelpark’ is a collection of 7 short stories, each featuring a different kind of mom you come across with in the Vondelpark around 3 pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The Dutch moms are Sandra, Sophie, Sylvia, Susanne, Saartje, Simone and Sarah. They are all fictional, but recognisable for the Amsterdam readers. They are portrayed in a beholding point of view.
‘The hint of Chanel N°5 drifting in the light spring breeze accompanied by the tapping of overpriced Louboutins announces she’s near. Let’s call her Sophie. Here and there a gaze from the crowd can be spotted. She walks like she was born to do nothing else. With utter grace she lands herself like a swan by her flock of friends. Her big black Jackie Kennedy shades seem like a necessity. Not only to complement the carefully selected spring blue dress that seems to be sown on to her body, but also to hide the fact that one too many wines were consumed at last night’s soiree. But Sophie will never complain about her life choices. It was only a matter of seconds until the semi-jealous question came across the conversation. ‘What is your secret?’ Sophie is a mystery for every woman, and a desire for most men. Elegantly she smiles, but never really answers the question. Sophie’s bronze tanned legs equals those of a Russian ballet dancer, her golden hair reminds me of the manes of a determined lion. She didn’t bring her two sons, they are with the nanny, attending one of the many lavish birthday parties they get invited to. Instead, she brought a bottle of prosecco. Suddenly, in full excitement, Sophie grabs her phone to show a picture to her friends of that adorable antique bedside table she bought on her last trip to Sicily. The 3-day-splurge on the Italian island with her husband sounds magnificent. She vividly describes the perfect creamy tagliatella she had, the one that most woman above thirty-five fear. Her husband wasn’t named once. While her friends are caught in a mesmerising state of tranquility and Italian bliss, her phone rings. It’s her hairstylist, confirming the 4 o’clock appointment. In the last 45 minutes she’s been the centre of attention. She apologises while swiftly putting her Louboutins back on. While she walks away, she turnes around with the most charming smile while blowing a kiss. The tapping of her heels slowly fades, and all that is left, is admiration.’
‘I hear a woman yelling the word ‘Maan’, distantly in the background. As I turn around I come to the conclusion she is calling her 3 year old son, who is feeding his half-eaten rice waffle to a group of ducks. He runs back to his mom, who is folding out a handwoven blanket with tribal patterns. After setting up her spot in the soothing shadow of an old pine tree, she takes off her denim jacket. On her left arm there is a faded Buddhist tattoo representing tranquility and peace. It’s a memento from a time in her life when she was free in a different sense. The woman, named Saartje, is rummaging through her bag while the little boy seems bored, impatiently tucking his moms faded olive-green top. A bottle of sunscreen appears and after a little swipe on the boy’s nose, he is free to join the other kids in the sandpit. Her eyes follow the little rascal into his adventures. A content sigh confirms Saartje is happy where life brought her. A single mom, but with enough love to give. Her hair, slightly frizzy, seems one of her least concerns. It’s tied in a messy bun. A pack of Lucky Strikes is sticking out of her knitted bag. It’s not long after that she allows herself one. The way she enjoys every single drag in complete bliss shows it is a limited pleasure for her. Saartje knows like no other how important a healthy lifestyle is. This is confirmed by the seven ziplock bags filled with fresh vegetables and fruit spread over the blanket. The way she is experiencing inner peace is so appealing, it even calms myself. While Maan is getting tired, it’s time to go. Saartje needs to visit the organic market before heading home. She is out of goat milk.’