For as long as I can remember, I always knew I wanted to be a mother. As the oldest daughter on both sides of my family and a bossy pants since birth, I grew up as a typical “goodie two-shoes” with a strong personality, an opinion on everything, and a stubborn tendency to try and take the lead in most situations.

And then motherhood happened. As certain as I was about everything when I was younger, these days I am painfully aware of my blind spots and unlearned lessons. Luckily my children teach me so many lessons I’ve needed to learn – about patience (and how little I have of it), life (and the infinite stream of why’s they bring to me) and love (especially how much I am able to give, despite my utter lack of sleep). Motherhood has tempered me; it forms me every day.

It would take a special kind of man to make a Mrs. of Miss Complicated, and I will forever be thankful that he found me. I’ve been married to Tim (a filmmaker and actor) for a decade now, and together we’re raising his clones; Sophia (5) and Migael (3) are our utterly wonderful little munchkins.

Both my pregnancies were difficult and culminated in dramatic C-sections; I would go through all of it all over again for the sake of the reward at the end, though. The postpartum depression and panic disorder that came later? Well, maybe not ... but then my life wouldn’t be half as special as it has become through developing more self-insight and grace in the process. These past few years, I have been on a journey of deeper insight into and empathy with myself, and I love sharing the lessons I’ve learned along the way every chance I get.

I truly believe that we owe it to ourselves to learn who we are and share our true identities with each other – life is so much more interesting if we live it in full colour! To share, unfiltered, about motherhood, struggles and mental health is one of my greatest privileges.

By day I am the Head of the Interpreting Service at the Stellenbosch University Language Centre. Interpreting, languages, communication and finding the right word at the right time – these are things I could get lyrical about. I am exactly as nerdy as that, and not ashamed to say it! By moonlight, I sing my children to sleep and then sit down behind my computer (or phone) to create. I write my quirks out of my system; it’s my therapy and sanity – and sharing it with readers is such a pleasure. On a stage, or behind a microphone? Even better!

My life motto is “Spell correctly; sit nicely; laugh unabashedly.” I truly believe in all three those principles. Just toss a cinnamon doughnut in my direction, hand me a good latté – 80s music and a fun topic to debate optional – and we can be friends. You have the recipe for my happiness.

Kontak my gerus vir ‘n spreker geleentheid deur ‘n epos te stuur.

juanli@dienaguilklub.com