How I Started A Blog
Blogging Events, I Am A Blogger

How I Started A Blog

Behind every blog, there is a story and here’s mine. The story of how I started a blog called The European Mama.

Imagine a woman, standing outside, fighting with her extremely cute little girl to stay in the stroller. There’s another baby in the back of the double stroller, luckily sleeping soundly while her sister kicks, screams and pumps her arms.

You see her. What would you do? How would you react? Would you have sympathy, ask whether she needs help, or would you judge?

Almost exactly two years ago, I am that woman. And, unfortunately for me, the Woman in the Black Dress chooses the latter. She suddenly materializes before me. I never saw her coming. I only see her when she asks: “Are you the babysitter?”.

I stand straight. Even though my girl is having her first full-blown temper tantrum, I am still a proud mom. “No”- I say, and even manage a smile- “I am the mom”.

The smile soon disappears from my face when I hear what she is saying: “I saw you from my window. You are abusing your child.” My heart stops for a moment. I manage to tell her to mind her own business and hope she will go away.

She doesn’t. Instead, she says: “I am going to call the police. You are abusing your children. No child should behave that way. My children never did!”. I can’t believe what I’m hearing. The police??? I hope she doesn’t mean it, but she gets her phone out of her bag and dials.

She speaks on her phone, in Dutch (which I didn’t speak then), and then she tells me that the police will be here shortly. By this time I am trembling and am close to tears. No, actually I am standing there, crying. K. notices my confusion and suddenly stands still.

I call my husband and he can’t believe me. He says that that woman is just trying to threaten me. “No”- I say “she actually is calling the police right now”. My husband promises to be there in a few minutes.

In a stroke of luck, the ladies from daycare are getting ready to to go home. They are tired after a whole day with a bunch of children. They see me crying and ask what happened. I tell the story, and they are absolutely shocked by this woman’s behaviour.

-“Do you have children on your own?- they ask her.

– “Yes. I have adult children, and they have never behaved like that. Never. And children need to be protected.”

The nannies from daycare look at her. She is standing there, hands on her hips, in a triumphant gesture. She tells the ladies that I am a young mother (I am petite and never wake makeup, and look younger than I am), and that I need professional help- a shrink.

The nannies tell her in return that she is very quick to judge, and that maybe she has forgotten that children this age do have temper tantrums. At this point, we present a unified front against her.

The police arrived, and with the nannies help, I tell my side of the story. She tells hers. The police don’t really know what to do, they write down my name and address, and tell me that the lady thinks I was too harsh on my child. The nannies vouch in my favour, telling the police that they know me and my children really well, and that I would never hurt a child.

 My husband arrives, wants to talk to her, but she is gone. I swear I hear the sound of a flying broom hissing by. K. is confused, J. is still sleeping. The nannies bring juice for K. and water for me.

Then the police leaves, the nannies go home. My husband takes K. on his bike, I walk home with Julia, still shaking and in shock.

In the night, I can’t sleep. I toss and turn and think. The Woman in Black, or as I have started calling her, The Witch, has made a point: I did need help, but not the way she thought. I needed friends. I needed a support network of likeminded people. And, I needed a platform to vent and to tell my stories. In short, I needed a blog.

This happened almost exactly 2 years ago. I am still somewhat traumatized. But I contacted expats organizations and made friends quickly. I started a blog, got interviewed, my articles were published on several websites. I am now a happy, if not slightly sleep-deprived mom of three beautiful children. K. continued to have temper tantrums but even they got better. With J., we applied for more daycare days, allowing me to rest and enjoy some time for myself.  In your face, Witch.

But I think I have to be thankful. If it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t have met my wonderful friends. I wouldn’t have started this blog. I wouldn’t have dared to have a third child. Thank you, Witch!

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  • Reply April 29, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Olga, you made an incredibly traumatising experience! I think it’s the biggest nightmare for a mum. And I might say that expat mums are much more vulnerable about those kinds of judgements, as they really often feel “alone”. Calling the police was so inappropriate! I guess this person was a witch, one of the worse ones. I’m glad you write this brilliant blog but I wouldn’t go so far saying that I thank this witch for it. – I think that you would have started a blog anyway. Let me add something that happened to me: in my case it was a friendly and gentle fairy who inspired me to start my blog. And you’ll guess who it was: You 😉

    • Reply The European Mama April 29, 2013 at 10:55 am

      Thank you Ute for your kind comment. It was indeed a very traumatic experience and this is why it took me two years to write it down in detail, like I did now. And yes, expat women are vulnerable (especially 6 weekas after having a baby and faced with a full-blown temper tantrum that was really bad, I never had anything like that happen after that incident)…And the “thanks” for the witch were more of a tongue-in-cheek. Yes, I would probably have started a blog anyway, but it would have taken longer. I am glad to hear I was the fairy behind your blog, but you would also have started it anyway- and you’re doing a great job! We need blogs like yours, with great advice and positive messages!

  • Reply Nina marzeniamizyje April 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I was reading with big attention, like some thriller. “OMG what will happend next?” – but everything finished happily:) It had to be a really deep experience for You. I really admire You. I’m still scared to enlarge my family.
    Need to find some time (my English is basic, so really much, much more time I need) for reading Your blog from beginning 🙂
    Pozdrawiam 🙂

    • Reply The European Mama April 29, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Welcome, Nina!And thank you for your comment. I am glad you like this story. I wrote it like that because this is exactly how I felt during this: “I can’t believe this is happening” and “What happens next?”. I was so scared! I will be happy if you read this blog from the beginning! Pozdrawiam!

  • Reply MissNeriss April 29, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Oh my gosh Olga! I simply cannot believe that a woman called the police on you. I think if she had done it to me she at least would have had a good reason – I would have attacked her!

    Too bad a house hasn’t fallen on her head.

    And you’re so right about the support network that writing a blog brings. I can’t believe how many friends I’ve made, just because I started to write. It changed my life here in NL.

    • Reply The European Mama April 29, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Thanks, Nerissa! Yes, I can’t believe how much support I got just from sharing my stories- and how many friends, including yourself! I couldn’t attack her because I was too busy crying…anyway as for the house, I am not sure about that I started calling her the witch before I watched “Wicked” and now I think that Witch (and especially not the wicked witch) is not even a good name for her, but it stuck! Anyway, she was too bored or something. I kind of can’t stop thinking what would happen if I spoke Dutch then? Would she also have called the police?Probably not because it was only after she heared me speak English did she call the police…

    • Reply The European Mama April 29, 2013 at 11:16 am

      I can only hope that noone will have to go through this! Noone deservs to have the police called on them like that.

  • Reply Melissa April 29, 2013 at 11:37 am

    They didn’t call the police, but I was thoroughly verbally abused by three middle-aged to older women (also mothers of adult children who had forgotten what small children are really like) on the bus last year when they didn’t feel I was responding sufficiently to my crying baby. They yelled at me until I got off the bus, saying it was child neglect and so on. It was public, unmerciful and awful.

    The truth is I had tried everything to settle him down, there was nothing more I could do, and I was nearly paralyzed with post-partum depression and concentrating on not jumping in front of the bus. I still can’t understand why someone would look at that situation and jump straight to public shaming rather than wondering if everything was all right or offering some compassion. I was so shocked I couldn’t even formulate sentences to defend myself beyond “leave me alone”.

    I guess a lot of us may have similar experiences. It is unfortunate that people forget just how awful the early years can be, so you have people judging even more harshly because their children NEVER did that.

    I also think it’s harder for us because surely most people living in their own home countries were never as isolated as we are? Most people have access to family members or other helpers for when the baby is fussy (or toddler is tantrumy) but the shopping still needs to be done. Not to mention parenting 30+ years ago was different than it is today. They can’t possibly remember accurately what it was like for them or understand what it is like for us. Sigh. I still get upset thinking about that.

    • Reply The European Mama April 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      Oh my gosh, Melissa, I’m so sorry! This mus have been really traumatic for you! And especially with PPD, I can’t imagine how terrible it must have felt to be told all these things! And speaking of PPD, social isolation and shaming can be the very triggers of it- which is why expat women are often at higher risk! I agree with all that you said- you will be most likely judged by moms who have adult children and forgot about the difficult early years, and by moms whose children are younger than yours (My baby will never do that)…not only was parenting diffenret 30 years ago, but in the case of expat women, there are also cultural differences betwene parenting styles and what can seem normal in one culture, can be seen as abuse in another… thank you so much for commenting and sharing!

  • Reply Amanda van Mulligen April 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm

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  • Reply Amanda van Mulligen April 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Oh how horrible it is when others judge – especially when they don’t have (young) children themselves and walk in without seeing the whole story!!!! I can’t believe she called the police on you – and I would have been incredibly shaken too. Motherhood is a hard enough job without strangers making you wrongly feel like you have done something wrong.

    Wouldn’t it be a nicer world if everyone stopped judging and offered to help instead!!!??

    • Reply The European Mama April 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Thank you, Amanda! Yes, it would be nice and good if we all helped each other, but this is not always the case…What worries me, however, is how fast we forget this and are so quick to judge others…they have been though the same and yet they apss it on to new moms…I guess it’s just a way to survive and we tend to forget painful situations. But maybe somehow it’s better to remember so that others don’t get to experience that, too?

  • Reply Sisters From Another Mister April 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Good Lawd .. the nerve of people. But on the upside, she made you reevaluate your life, and you made friends and started a blog and now here we are chatting right across the great Atlantic … hello sweet new friend xxxx

  • Reply The European Mama April 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Welcome, Nicole, and thank you for your comment! Yes, there is an upside, even though considering the intensity of this situation and the fact that it was so traumatic, it’s a pretty high prize to pay. Anyway, the important thing is that I am now very happy and it’s always hard to recognize when you need help. Greetings from the Netherlands, dear friend!

  • Reply Mud Hut Mama April 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Oh my goodness, judging from the title I thought this was going to be humorous post! I’m so very sorry that you had to go through that – I can’t even imagine what it must have felt like but I’m so glad that at the very least the nannies were there to stick up for you – of course you shouldn’t have needed to stick up for yourself or justify why your daughter was behaving like a normal young child. I also started blogging to develop a community because I was feeling very isolated and alone – but thankfully I have no horror stories like yours. Some misunderstandings and advice I didn’t always appreciate but nothing traumatic. I’m sorry you experienced this but I’m glad you are blogging.

    • Reply The European Mama April 29, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      Jody, I wish this would be a humorous post! I am glad this didn’r happen to you and I hope it never will! Of course, everybody had to deal with useless advice, but I really hope noone would have to deal with this…And thank you for your encouraging words about my blog- I really appreciate it!

  • Reply Frances Evans April 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Wow! What a traumatizing position to be in, especially when you’re “the odd man out” in terms of not being from there, and not knowing the language very well. I would have been in tears, too! I also know how it feels to not “have friends”, and I’m happy you turned a bad situation into a good one. You have a wonderful blog, and I’m glad to have met you through the multicultural group.

  • Reply The European Mama April 29, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Frances, the pleasure is all mine! I can’t believe how many great people I have met through our group-including yourself! I am very happy to have this support network now- both online and offline!

  • Reply Stephanie-InCultureParent April 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    OMG! I can’t believe that happened to you that this woman claimed kids shouldn’t have tantrums then called the police. All kids have tantrums! She was the one who needed the shrink!! It is made all the more frustrating when you can’t speak the language of the country–I have been in a few very difficult situations in various countries where I did not speak the language (luckily no incidents with my kids as that would have even been far worse), and the frustration level at not being able to communicate to defend myself was horrible. Even remembering those incidents gives me that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. So I know how you must have felt. But it’s nice to see how out of terrible situations arise wonderful things- like your blog and the friends and connections you made!

    • Reply The European Mama April 30, 2013 at 9:43 am

      Hello, Stephanie, thank you for your comment! I think I was unlucky and not speaking the language didn’t help. I am glad all turned out good in the end! And the friends and connections are invaluable!

  • Reply Kim S. April 30, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Oh, my heart was just aching reading this Olga. Don’t we have enough on our plates beating ourselves up for our parenting decisions. This was just beyond the pale. But I’m so thankful you eventually rallied some allies to your side. Hopefully she went away thinking she over-reacting.

    Frankly, I started blogging for very similar reasons. Of course, no one accosted me, but I did get a lot of very strange looks when my toddler would through a fit in public (Kenyan kids tend not to) and people would ask me what was wrong with him. I felt so alone and disoriented and questioned almost everything I knew about parenting. And, you’re right, having this blogging community is a real godsend. I’m glad I found you through it!!

    • Reply The European Mama April 30, 2013 at 9:47 am

      Hi Kim, thanks for your input and I am also happy I found you and your blog! The nannies were very helpful and the police didn’t think that I really hurt my child and I also think that she went away because she though that her cause was hopeless- especially when she saw that my husband also came to support me… I still can’t believe there are people like that. My daughter’s tantrum also came as a shock and I was even more confused. Luckily, she got much better now and I should tell it to every young mom who is going through a similar situation!

  • Reply Kym Ciftci May 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    What a horrible woman!!! Well done you for turning such a negative into a positive 🙂

    • Reply The European Mama May 21, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you, Kym! I am glad it worked out well, that’s all! Glad you stopped by!

  • Reply Ace CB August 2, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I’m glad you posted your experience – even as terrible as it was. Feeling isolated is bad enough, but then having someone judge you so extremely because of something relatively minor makes the experience that much worse. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months, but hadn’t come across this post until today. It’s good to know that we all have similar experiences and need the community of other expats to support us. I’ve had both sides of the experience. I’ve had people speak down to me (in the US and in the Netherlands) about my toddler son’s behavior during a tantrum (and I’m sure because I look even younger than I am), telling me I need to learn to control/discipline him. I’ve also had an older Dutch woman “rescue” me by helping me get my son into his bike seat while throwing a “code-red” level tantrum. The experiences are difficult no matter the circumstances, but I’m glad you’re wonderful blog developed out of your own experiences.

    • Reply The European Mama August 14, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      Hi Ace, thank you for your encouraging words and sorry for taking my time to comment. I usually found the Dutch extremely understanding when it comes to temper tantrums , I’ve never met a woman like her after that incident and I hope I never will. Loved your blog as well, will visit often!

  • Reply Dutch Parents Don't Yell! November 27, 2013 at 9:00 am

    […] Cultural differences in talking to children and the way of treating them are another explanation of this. In the Netherlands it is understandable for children to have tantrums, but not for parents to yell at their children (which I have found out the very hard way). […]

  • Reply K10K November 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Olga, you really can’t image how wonderful if was to read this post!

    I have experienced a similar case. The resemblances are striking!

    To me, being a good mother is my highest goal in life. So when my neighbours called the police on me for child abuse and I was called in for interrogation, I was in shock as well. It has been over a year now, and it still feels like a traumatic scar on my self esteem. I still feel the hurt and the disbelief. I haven’t talked or even made eye contact with them in all that time.

    Fortunately, the police officer was very understanding. I explained to him that our daughter, being adopted at age 2.5 and home with us for a couple of months at that time, was experiencing trauma and anxieties, which caused her to scream, rebel, and scream some more. She would attack me, run away, open all the doors and gates (including the ones of the chicken), destroy stuff, and so on. So yes, I lost my temper more than once, those first months. So when the neighbours saw me dragging her inside by the arm because she had the chicken escape for the 154th time (I know, NOW it sounds funny), and because she wouldn’t allow me to carry her (that kind of contact was too close for her at some times), they added her daily screaming (and my occasional screaming back, I admit) to that and went to the police to file an official report of child abuse.

    It was very similar to the ‘report’ of your witch. “Children don’t behave like that”. “This parent must be abusing the child regularly, to cause this behaviour and this amount and intensity of screaming”, “This child is supposed to be happy, since it was adopted from a poor country, so because it obviously is NOT happy, it is the mother’s fault”. Oh, and yes, “I needed ‘help’, because I was clearly mentally instabile.”

    Well, to be honest, the whole affair DID turn me mentally instabile. I was a wreck and became totally paranoid. The next one-hour-tantrum she had, I asked my husband to videotape it. Just to have ‘proof’ that she could really scream and rebel for that long, while all I would do was sit close to her and watch over her, so she wouldn’t hurt herself. To prove that she wouldn’t not scream ‘I hate you’ because I did something horrible to her, but because that was her response when I told her I loved her… I longed to show the neighbours that tape, but I never had the courage.

    After a while, I understood that those people would never understand,not even with that tape. I can already imagine them calling the police, just BECAUSE we videotaped our daughter’s outburst for over an hour without actively doing something about it… They are so sure of themselves as perfect parents and about how perfect their own children once were (in a long forgotten past), that it was no use trying to explain to them the dynamics of adoption, of the differences between children, of the daily struggles some parents have to conquer.

    But, well, I still feel the hurt when they pass me by when I’m taking the kids for a walk in the woods. Because I remember all too well how they mentioned in the report that it was suspicious that I took them to the woods so often. “It must be to take them our of our sight, to abuse them where nobody can hear or see them”. Oh and “that the kids always looked dirty afterwards, was also a clear sign”. The police officer agreed that this was just ridiculous, and it weakened their credibility instead of strenghtening it as they thought it would. So, I don’t allow those neigbourghs to spoil the fun in our frequent little picnics anymore. And I certainly won’t tell my children to stop climbing trees or roll in the mud because of what the neigbours might think about it. But the hurt and part of the paranoia are still there…
    K10K recently posted…ViolinMy Profile

    • Reply European Mama November 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Oh no, Katinka! This sounds horrible and I am sorry what you’ve been through, especially with the adoption! I guess people who never adopted will never understand how much work goes into caring for a child who was born elswewhere and how much time, effort and persistance it takes when adopting a child! Your situation must have been even more stressfull because the police just listened to my story right there and then and didn’t require me to go anywhere but home when it was over. You on the other hand had to go through a whole investigation and that after your child was going through a very challenging time as well!Your children looked dirty after a walk in the woods? That is weird, my always look clean! Just kidding. Again, I am so so sorry for this situation, and the trauma it left you with.Let’s go tackle some real child abusers, not innocent moms who have a tough time, OK?

  • Reply Ilja DeYoung November 29, 2013 at 9:31 am

    I am so ashamed to hear these stories about my fellow country(wo)men.
    I want to apologise on behalf of them. I know it won’t make a difference to you or any of the ladies who commented, but please know that this is not normal in this country. Yes we do want to look out for the children around us and make sure they are all right. But this reaction was so uncalled for.

    I can assure you that Dutch children do have tantrums (and that I think Dutch parents would react as you have done)

    • Reply European Mama November 29, 2013 at 9:38 am

      Dear Ilja, thank you for offering your kind words! You don’t need to be ashamed! There are some weird people everywhere, and I don’t think it is normal for Dutch people to behave that way. On the contrary, I always felt well here and people are always helpful and understanding.I see Dutch children having tantrums so I know they happen! And of course I could have handled this better. But I understood that this reaction was not normal and didn’t change my positive impression of the Dutch people!

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  • Reply Jess January 7, 2014 at 5:31 am

    Sweet Jesus, Olga. The Witch is one of my greatest nightmares living in Holland; I often assume the worst when I see a look of judgement scurry across the brow of an older woman scowling at me with my two kids (often the same scenario- sleeping or unperturbed baby, screaming toddler) at the park, in the supermarket. I really didn’t think it would come to this, ever. You are one strong woman to morph this awful trauma into something positive. Rock on.

    I’ll start fortifying my defenses now, btw, in case she comes after me next. xxx+o
    Jess recently posted…Five Days InMy Profile

    • Reply European Mama January 8, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      Jess, I am hoping this will never happen to you!I don’t wish it on anyone! I didn’t really turned this into something positive becuase well I would probably start my blog anyway, but this gave me the kick I needed. A pity that it had to happen that way…

  • Reply Lauren July 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Oh my word, that is ridiculous. She must have been living in some kind of fantasy land or the big state of Denial to say that her children never behaved that way. I have NEVER met a child, and I never will, who’s never had a tantrum. Wow. (Is it weird that I’ve got my dander all up now about an event that happened to someone I’ve never met years ago? Haha! Us normal mamas have your back 😉 ).
    Lauren recently posted…Week 25: PremonitionMy Profile

    • Reply Olga Mecking July 17, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Thank you Lauren for your kind words. Yes she probably forgot how it is really like to have young children. And thank you for getting angry for me and for having my back!

  • Reply Hemapriya July 12, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Olga,

    That was really scary, calling police for temper tantrums!! Then we must visit the police station daily 😉
    Hemapriya recently posted…Date Almond Milkshake for ToddlersMy Profile

  • Reply Blog Birthday! October 30, 2015 at 8:41 pm

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  • Reply Making Friends as a Mother - The European Mama January 18, 2016 at 10:30 am

    […] I had a rather traumatic encounter with a woman I had nick-named The Witch. She saw me from the window of her house when my eldest daughter had a temper tantrum, and tried to […]

  • Reply Stuart July 8, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Wow. The woman was clearly a little unhinged and a bit full of herself. At least it lead to something good. congratulations.
    Stuart recently posted…My Thoughts On The BrexitMy Profile

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  • Reply Susi July 18, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Wow. What a story. It’s so scary how people jump to conclusions. Kids will be kids no matter where you live. I would have cried buckets too. Glad it all worked out in the end.

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