MARCH 2020 / grace tells 08

"That piece of jewellery,
that’s who we are."

May-Britt Mobach

By: Grace&Us, Images by Edwin Smulders and amayzine.com

May-Britt Mobach (46), editor-in-chief of Amayzine.com, thought she lived on a movie set. At least that’s what she thought when the moving van pulled up in front of the park next to her new home.

 – “It was too perfect to be real. We really were going to live here. In that perfect little neighborhood.”

The neighbours were sitting on a bench in their garden, their children were peeking from the hedge. We were only inside for two minutes before the doorbell rang. It was the neighbour. Holding a tray with coffee (Nespresso, of course) for us and a jug of lemonade for our three girls. Another neighbour’s kid passed the house on her bicycle, she was small enough that the handle from her tennis racket was just peeking from behind her head. My new neighbourhood was gorgeous. Almost too gorgeous. You would almost think that the walls were made of cardboard and that beyond those walls, support beams were set up to keep everything from crashing down. It was too perfect to be real. But the moving boxes were being taken inside. We were really going to live here. In that perfect little neighbourhood.

 – “Even though summer had peaked, it was already one of the darkest periods of my life. The only shed of light in my life at that moment were the other women that I could share my concerns with.”

But in the middle of all that perfection, everything came crashing down for me. Well, everything? My marriage was great, we had a beautiful new home and I finally got the job I had always dreamed of. But something was wrong with my eldest child. Surrounded by cello-playing hockey children I found myself handing out orange flyers to the other parents at the school playground. On it, a letter, explaining what was wrong with our daughter. That she wouldn’t be able to join the other children. That she would have to change schools. To a place where they would find out how she could fit in. Even though summer had peaked, it was already one of the darkest periods of my life. The only shed of light in my life at that moment were the other women that I could share my concerns with. Women who also had children who didn’t fit in. Or a child who was different. To not feel alone, to feel understood; that feeling was priceless.

 – “To not feel alone, to feel understood; that feeling was priceless”

In that period, I went on a weekend trip with my husband. For a little while, our worries vanished. Or at least they were tucked away. My parents (who have hearts of gold), took care of our kids. We picked Antwerp, as it is a nice city and not too far away. If anything would go wrong, we could rush home and be there within two hours to hug our little girl. That weekend was energizing. We could finally breathe again. Deep breaths in and out.

 – “I wanted my eyes to let her know that I’m just like her. That it is okay. That she is safe. But our eyes didn’t meet.” 

Come Sunday, just before we returned to The Netherlands and to our girls, we bought pastries from the best bakery in town, Dellafaille. We couldn’t return home without pastries. The bakery was crowded, as usual. My partner patiently waited in line as I found a quiet spot by the window to observe the spectacle in the bakery. All of a sudden, I spotted a mother with her daughter. A girl just like my girl. More or less. She also painted outside the lines, walked a different path and danced to a different song. This girl had Down Syndrome. To her, the bakery was a playground. The counter was a climbing wall. I could see the discomfort in her mother: all these people, what will they think? I tried to smile at her. I wanted my eyes to let her know that I’m just like her. That it is okay. That she is safe. But our eyes didn’t meet. I sometimes fantasise about a symbol of recognition, a piece of jewellery that lets others know: I too, am a mother like that.

 – “We all experience bumps along the road. Maybe a collision. And should we collide, we need an airbag” 

Eight years later I still reside on that movie set. And just like in the movies, my neighbourhood knows dark days. A divorce, two seriously ill neighbours, someone who passed away. Life doesn’t spare a single zip code area. The way to a rich, healthy and long life doesn’t exist. We all experience bumps along the road. Maybe a collision. And should we collide, we need an airbag. And that, my dear strong Grace and Us clan, is where we come in. We take care of each other. In our softness. That piece of jewellery, that’s who we are.

May-Britt Mobach is founder and editor in chief of online magazines AMAYZINE.com, AMAYZINEKiDS.com and editor in chief of Franska.nl , after a career in tv, where she also co-founded as editor in chief the successful daily show RTL Boulevard, she switched to magazines where she worked for various magazines (Beau Monde, La Vie en Rose, Flair) and became editor in chief of Marie Claire. Seven years ago she started AMAYZINE.com, now one of they most successful online magazines in the Netherlands. May-Britt has a husband, three daughters and a dog.

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