“When I became a Mom the best way to support me was to tell me that I was doing great!"
For this new Moms can do anything Instagram live, Label K’s founder Cath had a nice chat with Aisling (@aisling.dhooghe21), goalkeeper of the Belgian field hockey team, Mom of a little boy and an amazingly inspiring woman who manages to juggle with all her roles.
✨Discover their discussion below or have a look at the video! ✨
Can you tell us a bit about you and your journey?
I’m 27 years old, I’m the goalkeeper of the Belgian Women Hockey Team, but I am also working. I work in politics, as an alderwoman, so I don’t only have a hockey life. About 14 months ago now, I became a Mom, and I’m also a wife because I got married last year. I’ve got lots of things in my life, but I love to have a life that’s so full of different things! I like to be busy: I am always looking to do something, to be with someone, to have people around me. Even when I have free time, I try to spend it with others and to do something.
What was the trigger to tell you that those choices were the good ones?
We found out I have multiple sclerosis about 20 years ago now. It was a big thing but as I was so young, I didn’t know a lot about it. Everybody told me “if you do something, you don’t know for how long, so just do it as good as possible and have fun” so I did everything I could do with that mindset. I first started playing tennis and I loved it. Then I wanted to do something with lots of other people, so I started playing hockey. At some point, I had to take a decision because you can’t do too many things, so I chose hockey. My parents also wanted me to do studies, so I studied. Then my life was fixed: I had my hockey at the best level, my work was really on point, my private life as well. With my husband, we thought “what can we add now? A little bit more love and a little bit more planning issues?”. That was the moment we thought we were ready to have a child together and to complicate our easy life a little bit, but we were happy to have that challenge!
You have many roles; how do you manage to find a balance that works for you?
A: I’m not afraid to ask for help: I have a lot of help from my family and my friends. I’m not really afraid that people think it’s complicated for me sometimes! Otherwise, the important for me is to be the best I can be and not to care too much about what people think. I try to be as good as I can be and at the end for my son, I’m the best Mom I can be for him. So I just try to do everything that feels good for me and try to push myself.
C: It doesn’t happen often that I see such a young Mom/woman with so many roles! You don’t care too much about what the others think and you try to focus on what you can do, which is probably one of the key to feel happy and be successful!
“I’m not really afraid that people think it’s complicated for me sometimes!”
Do you happen to feel guilt regarding your role of mother? If so, how do you manage to let it go?
I had a big training camp in January in Argentina and I missed the first birthday of my son. It was quite emotional because he might not remember it, but I will. I won’t lie: it was not easy the D-day, but I really tried to have fun and to remember why I was there. Nobody obliged me to be there, it was my decision, so I tried to have as much of it as possible and I dealt quite well with it. My son definitely had the best time of his life with his father so it was no problem whatsoever. That was the kind of moment I ask myself if I am really doing things right. It’s a choice, as hockey is not for my whole life, but being a Mom is. If I have to make some sacrifices now, it’s for my own good and we will have a lots of nice stories later, so I think he won’t be too upset with me!
Do you find time just for yourself? How do you manage to do that?
I find time, but I won’t say I have plenty of time though! What I like is that I have a 9-5 work and then I have the pleasure to be on the hockey field. My parents are there for my son, so we can find some moments only for the two of us with my husband. But I won’t lie: I really like to have moments where I am all alone, not talking to anybody, just staying on my couch. I don’t have that very often, but I’m so happy when I have 1-2 hours only for me. This weekend, my husband won’t be there: he asked me what I was doing tomorrow evening, I said “nothing”! When my son will be in bed, I’ll be alone and have nothing planned: I am happy and really looking forward to tomorrow evening!
Do you have any tips that help you live all those roles, all those dreams?
I really listen to myself, to my body, to my brain and to my emotions. When I’m getting too quickly emotional, I feel there is a problem, it’s not possible otherwise. I learned listening to my body by playing hockey: “Am I getting tired faster than usual? Am I doing things right? What do I need to feel better?”. In hockey, if our body is not good, they won’t push us: otherwise, we would get injured and not be the best we can be on the field. If we really feel we are not okay, they will tell us to take a little time for us. At my work, I have people working with and for me, so I can give them a little bit more work when I feel I need it. I also like to have moments like I will have tomorrow evening. My tip is to listen to myself and only myself, and not try to do things right for the others. We always want to do so much for the others because we like to give them joy and happiness, but sometimes it’s just not possible. They won’t be mad at us and the next time we will be there in a better way. It’s difficult, but we have to dare to say “not this time”.
“I really listen to myself, to my body, to my brain and to my emotions.”
When you were at the beginning of being a Mom, what was the best way to help and support you?
Telling me I was doing great and not giving me too much advice. “I don’t want to give you advice, but if I can tell you one thing…”: I had hundred things like that. We know it’s really only to help us, but people should just tell us that what we are doing is good and ask us if we want advice before giving them. It’s something I try not to do now that I am a Mom because I experienced it. In conclusion, tell me I’m doing great and ask me if I need something, but don’t impose anything.
At Label K, we value that every Mom should be free to decide her kind of motherhood. How would you define yours?
A chill way! As a Mom, I am the same person, I try not to change too much. I try to be a Mom but still to be all the other things I am. When I’m at hockey, I’m a hockey player. When I’m at work, I’m a worker. When I’m with my friends, I am a friend. When I’m with my son, I’m 100% a Mom.
“I try to be a Mom but still to be all the other things I am.”
What is your biggest dream today?
A: If I have to choose one, I would be a little bit selfish and talk short-term: my biggest dream is the Olympic Games in Paris, in 2024. That’s the reason I’m missing the first birthday of my son, and why I’m dealing with amazingly long plannings. I will have a new dream in two years, so if you want to know the next one, just ask me in September 2024!
C: We’ll definitely do that!
How do you find the balance in your couple?
A: We really try to have moments just the two of us, where we can be a couple and not Mom and Dad. Beside that, we also decided to go twice a year on a little vacation. We try to do one the three of us, and the other one the two of us. It’s only been one year but we managed it and we are leaving again in May, the three of us! Also, sometimes we have nothing planned so we ask our parents to keep our son, and we just go to the restaurant. It's working good!
C: Wonderful! You say it’s only been one year but the first year of being parents is probably the most difficult for the couple, so well done!
A: Yes, people told me that! For the moment, we survived the first year!
“We really try to have moments just the two of us, where we can be a couple and not Mom and Dad.”
Do you have any series or music recommendation?
A: I love 90’s music and any music you can sing: I love karaoke! As for the series, I am quite girly for that so I would say Emily in Paris or Bridgerton.
C: If you liked those, you might try The Bold Type!
A: Oh yes, I also loved that one, it’s a little bit like Gossip Girl.
C: Yes and more powerful for the girls! It’s a good mix.
Do you have places you love to go to with your son?
On Saturdays, we try to do something special. My son is not walking yet, so we don’t have plenty of options. I went with him in a special swimming pool with lots of cool things for him, and he loved that! He also loves to be outside in the garden, and we usually go from one park to another. We recently noticed he has a passion for the birds, so we thought we could take him to the zoo!
Do you have a kid product that you found really helpful?
We took the plane when he was 4 months old to go on vacation, and we bought a kind of mini-bed that you can fold afterwards. It’s not too big so it was perfect in the plane, he had his little space. And when we went to the beach, we also took it so that he could sleep in it and be on the ground with us. It was a real life changer! I can’t use it anymore because it’s too small for him now, but one of my best friend just became a Mom so I could give it to her. Now I bought something else for the plane: it’s like an inflatable pillow that you put between the chair before and the kid’s chair, and he can lay down on it.
What is the most important thing that helped you be happier and go from one dream to another?
Be happy and don’t put pressure on you! There are already too many people looking and commenting everything you are doing. Just live your life like you want to live it, and not like you should live it in the eyes of the other ones!
“Be happy and don’t put pressure on you!”
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