The bag of Ida

By Leontien Prenger

Upon entering her family home, Ida (29) greets me enthusiastically. Her son Manuè (2,5 years old) is jumping around the couch where his baby sister and brother Nani-Lua and Pasina-Rua (5 months old) are holding hands. An adorable sight Ida and I have to soak in for a while in silence. If it takes a village to raise a child, let alone 3 children, then this house is Ida’s village.

She herself grew up here, in Breukelen, a small town in between Utrecht and Amsterdam. Now Ida, her husband-to-be Joenoes and their children live here together with Ida’s parents, brother and younger sister. After living in Rotterdam for a few years and giving birth to Manué there, the couple decided to move back to Ida’s parents’ house so Joenoes could focus on pursuing his dream to work as an actor.

Additionally Ida’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, and they want to spend as much time together as possible. Shortly after they moved into the attic, where Manuè even has his own room, they found out their family would expand. When Ida consulted her mother about it she replied: “Life comes at it’s own terms. It is what it is.” It’s true, and I see where Ida has got her tranquil personality from.

Today the house is nearly empty, with her parents visiting family on Ambon, her sister travelling the globe and her brother at university. Joenoes is making long days rehearsing for a play in Rotterdam, which leaves Ida alone with the children mostly. “I do understand how lucky I am with all this family”, she says, “And I miss them a lot now.” “But this whole thing is going easier than I thought. I honestly did not think I could do this on my own. I’ve reached a whole new level of motor skills.”, she laughs, all awhile using her two feet to rock the twins in their bouncers and her hands to play with Manué who is climbing up and around her.

She ran out of formula for the twins, and we’re about to go outside for a stock up when life happens: Manué falls asleep on the couch, followed by Nani-Lua and Pasina-Rua. “Everybody knows you can’t wake a sleeping child.”, she states, so we are not going anywhere. The formula is a necessity though, so Ida calls her cousin with a request to deliver her some before the babies wake up hungry. Her bags, both Susan Bijl (a designer from Rotterdam), stay put. For a mother of three children under 4 the bags look surprisingly empty. The large shopper is filled with baby essentials like diapers, wet wipes and muslins. Don’t let the looks fool you though. “If I go out, I add a thermos, formula, two bottles, two sets of extra clothes and a babycarrier.”, she says.

A smaller pouch contains Ida’s personal items, such as her passport, chewing gum, sunglasses, lipstick and a small folder with photos of her family and ultrasounds from her latest pregnancy. “I actually never took them out, it just feels good.”, she explains. When I jokingly ask her if it ever comes to going out the door at all, she answers: “We go to Monkeytown (an indoor playground), to visit family, grocery shopping. In the beginning I thought it was really scary, but then I realised the worst thing that can happen is that I’m with three screaming children and thats not as bad as it seems.” “If we go for groceries we can be out the door in 15 minutes. Making visits to the consultation office however can take up to two hours of preparation before we are all ready to go.”, she continues.

The babies are waking up, first Nani-Lua, then Pasina-Rua. “Lua and Rua both mean “two” in the native Alifuru language.” Ida as well as Joenoes come from a Moluccan Island background, growing up with the culture. They met on set for a movie project about the islands in Tiel, where Joenoes grew up. “We’ve met before, but who knew we would end up having 3 children together?”, she laughs. Nani-Lua starts crying. She’s hungry, but we are still waiting for the formula to be delivered. Ida, however, shows no sign of stress whatsoever.

“It is what it is.”