“We have a secret, don’t we, Mom?” my son asks

Image: Nine IJf

Mariëtte Middelbeek is a journalist and author, and a columnist for Kek Mama. She and her husband Erik have two children: son Casper and daughter Nora.

“We have a secret, don’t we, Mom?” Casper has been working on it for weeks and he really likes it. Because yes, we have a secret. A big secret in which I recently initiated him and which he now prefers to tell his friends and the teacher, but he has to wait a little longer.

“The secret: his mother has a double life”

The secret: his mother has a double life. Not the kind that will cost you your marriage, but the kind called a “pseudonym.” Because for years I not only wrote books under my own name, but I also published holiday thrillers under the name Linda van Rijn and since Casper knows that, he can’t stop talking about it. Fortunately for him, the unveiling is imminent at a party organized for this purpose.

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The children play a leading role: they can announce on stage that Linda van Rijn is their mother. A fact that concerns Casper enormously, but about which I hardly hear Nora. Which doesn’t mean she isn’t busy with it, but unlike her brother, she isn’t a talker when something is very bad in her head. “Not at all”, she says again and again when I ask her if she finds it exciting. I’ll leave her alone, since I recognize this trait. I’m dying of nerves myself, but pretend to be perfectly calm.

“I’m dying of nerves, but pretend I’m completely calm”

The night of the unveiling arrives. “Our mom is Linda van Rijn!” my children shout through the microphone. I am so proud of my two, one elated, the other trembling like a straw – but of course she didn’t think it was exciting, she proclaims tough.


That night in bed we talk about secrets. “Can you never tell a secret?” asks Casper. “Yes,” I say. “You only have to keep it quiet if it’s a nice secret.” Happy with this pedagogically responsible shade, I say good night to my duo. Nora is standing next to my bed in the middle of the night. “I have a secret,” she says timidly. “I didn’t dare say it, but I did find it exciting.” I smile and hug her. “Linda thought it was scary too”, I say and she laughs. Sometimes a secret is pretty fun.

This article can be found in Kek Mama 07-2022.

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