The corner sofa is huge, the kitchen table is long and wide – it can easily accommodate thirteen chairs. The coat rack in the hallway is packed, not a single free hook to be seen, and the shoe closet downstairs bulges as well. Whether Annemarie Geerts (45) can point out which shoes belong to which child? Can she be honest about that: no. It’s a matter of some good thoughts. “Oh, what do you want with eight kids,” she laughs. “I can see in a moment whether we are complete or not. I feel that way somehow. The dynamics are different when the two oldest are tired, or when the youngest are in day care or in bed. ”
Today, she is home alone in their corner house in the Ypenburg district of The Hague. The house has been renovated twice (“do not start talking about it … do not do it”) and once a large extension was made, because otherwise it would never have fit. The children are now in school or daycare, her husband is in the office. “It feels quiet, empty. I miss the atmosphere, the chaos that I love so much.”
That chaos started more than 22 years ago when Annemarie was 23 and found out she was pregnant. So unplanned. Her husband Maarten was still her boyfriend at the time. They lived side by side in their youth and began dating when Annemarie was fifteen. But a desire for children? It was not there. Annemarie was in the final year of her education in Management, Economics and Law and wanted to make a career. “I did not like children. I even hated children. Yes, you can write it like that. I had never even held a baby before – the first one I held was my own. The first days after I found out that I was pregnant, I could only say I did not want to. ” And yet the child came. For besides a baby, love also grew in her body. She became interested in motherhood and Maarten in fatherhood and in family life together. They bought a new house, put together a cot, and got ready for something they had no idea about. In the week before her term, Annemarie took her final exam, “sighed and groaned,” and two days later Jim was born. “It was awkward, and at times also confrontational, because all my fellow students continued, they went to work, on trips, and I spent whole days sleeping with a baby. But that was exactly what made me complete. It was amazing, I felt right away: this is my role. I took my diploma with a six week old Jim on my arms, after that I never used it again. Do not care about those career plans, I thought. Most of all, I wanted to be a mother. ” Nine months after giving birth, she was pregnant again. And again a year later, from the third. “We did it so quickly with the idea that I would then work on my career again.”
The loss of a baby
It never came from that career. Or at least: not as planned. Her dream was to become the director of a large company, now she maintains an Instagram page (@demammavan) in her own ‘company’. Nearly 60,000 followers get an insight into her ten-person household. In short: Jim (21), Sam (19), Julia (18), Guus (12), the twins Saar and Suus (8), Jet (4) and Lot (1). “After we had three children, we did not tell each other that we wanted five more. But I missed having a baby when the three eldest went to school. So there came a fourth, and then I wanted to experience that babyhood one more time, yes, and then came twins. It was hard. And if you are two, there is some time to really cuddle and cuddle with such a baby. So after that I wanted one more child. ” And Lotje came after they thought that at the age of 44 it would not go so smoothly for Annemarie. “Okay then.” Its busy. Continually. Children go in and out. The washing machine is always full. The dryer too. The same goes for the laundry baskets – it seems like they just do not have a bottom.
We almost lost each other
There is a need for structure in Geert’s household. In the closet in the living room hangs a large magazine rack with all the children’s iPads under each other, with name tags on. The chargers are fastened with ties, otherwise the young people will run off. Each week, Annemarie fills a planner with stamps in different colors and lists for herself and her husband. Almost all children are riding horses, the youngest go to swimming lessons, childcare, sometimes a babysitter comes, they go to school, internships, work, children’s parties, excursions, friends. Between one and two o’clock in the afternoon, when the house is empty, Annemarie plans a nap for herself every day. What has come back in the last few years since the twins are here is time together. Maarten and I almost lost each other. We were always such a team until we suddenly had two babies at once that demanded all our attention. We no longer knew how to do it. No more asking each other how our day was. When the kids were in bed at seven, we sat exhausted on the couch and made our own things. He on the computer, I a series. And then there were days when we did not go up at the same time. Stop it … It’s the death knell for your relationship. ”
Teenager in love with another
Annemarie was looking for her happiness outdoors, in a common, public organic garden where one could grow crops. There was a man who gave her attention. “It was not an affair, but I was in love right up until puberty. I remember sitting across from Maarten at the kitchen table and smiling because I was thinking of the other person. Then I felt so guilty. I’m already unfaithful to him, I realized. Then I told Maarten. He reacted sadly, but we both knew we had to figure it out together. We can not run this family without each other. ” It was a fairly concrete rescue attempt. After ten o’clock, everyone, together on the couch, turns off a glass of wine and tells me. What did you do that day, what bothers you? “It was very intense conversations, but they cleaned the air and it got better and better.” They have taken up their common old hobby, horseback riding. So no longer just going to riding school for the kids but also for themselves. Maarten got his motorcycle card, Annemarie after that too. “It’s our moments now, together on the bike.”
Selfish and polluting, eight children
“Is it not ready at some point?” is a question that was regularly asked with another pregnancy. “There are people who like it, and my parents, who themselves had three children, wisely keep their mouths shut and always stand behind us. But I think that question is really annoying. ” She inevitably replies ‘never never’ because it’s nobody’s business and because she does not feel like going into it. What she also often hears, especially online, is that it is selfish and polluting to have such a large family. “In the eyes of some people, I will always remain the devastating natural disaster. I can not get over it. We are also environmental polluters as a big family. We have a van, an ugly energy-consuming thing, and if we leave with whole puppies, including those seniors partners, we have to grab our other little car and rent an extra car.We go through dozens of diapers a day for years.On the other hand, we do not make big flights.Our children scout everyone and the conservationist, we give them a love of nature. You can look at it, or look at all the diapers we use. ”
A sexy suit with slit
She knows she’s making herself vulnerable on her social media. The image where she looks extremely visible, provocative into the camera in a sexy suit with a deep neckline? Get praised – or cursed hard. ‘What is she wearing again’, is what is then written by other women in particular. “Looks awful!” At the end of last year, Annemarie also received the Loden Leeuw, an award that was far from popular. She was in the running for the title of ‘Most Annoying Influencer’. did it hit her? “I thought it was fun,” she says. “I immediately posted it in my bio on Instagram. Because you know? I do not see myself as an influencer. I want to show my followers real life. I have always seen mothers as filthy types, with no time for themselves, “with snot stains on the clothes, no time to buy nice clothes. Now it turns out: I’m just such a mother. And I want to show that.”
The number of followers grew, the number of likes also grew, brands managed to find her. And so are the critics: That she uses her offspring to get free stuff. “Yes, I get free things for my children, and I will not say no to that, because life is expensive with a large family, but that’s not what I do it for. I want to show: this is how we do it. Watch.”
Stop family expansion because people criticize? It never. “But I feel like I’m getting older, so I’m not excited anymore. A pregnancy at a later age can cause complications for the baby, and what I also notice: my body recovers worse after birth and I do not feel old, but you have to count … When Lotje went to high school I will be sixty. ” In addition, the age difference also becomes very large between the oldest and the youngest; they did not even live in the house together. The advantage is: the young can easily take care of the little ones. “We are together every Sunday, including the elders, of whom the 21-year-old has already moved away from home, and they naturally take over the caring parenting role a bit. So cute. Then I’m busy with drinks and snacks. ” And then she can look around in the meantime, at all the fuss, all the fun at the table, the children’s laughter, teenage jokes, Maarten with the little ones busy. And yes. Then there it is: chaotic happiness.
ps. Follow Annemarie on Instagram.
Styling, hair and makeup: Ronald Huisinga. Thanks to: H&M, Liefslabel, Lolaliza, Mango, Maria van Pelt, Ot & Sien, Portrait Pegs, Ralph Lauren, s.Oliver, Studio Liefchiefen