updated 8 Jun 2012, 09:20
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Wed, May 23, 2012
Simply Her
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Unconventional mothers... unconditional love
by Cheryl Leong

The Blended Mum

Cherry H. Boekhorst, 38, director of preschool centre Educa Pte Ltd, has a daughter Angela, 10, from her first marriage.

When she remarried, she gained three more: Myrthe, 20, Amber, 18 and Bente, 17.

Favouritism has never been an issue in the blended Boekhorst household. Cherry always sees to it.

When she first got together with Dutchman Jan, now 52, she'd note each of his daughter's favourite dishes, and have their helper to cook these when any of the girls were going to be away from home for a while.

Such gestures show the older girls that while she could never replace their real mum, she could still get to know them.

And more importantly, let all four girls know they are equally loved.

Cherry also tries to understand what it's like for her new daughters to deal with their parents' separation.

It's been nine years since Cherry first met her Dutch daughters, and seven years since they became a family.

She's bonded with them between Chinese homework and shopping trips.

"I think they started feeling proud of me when their friends raved about their hair and makeup, which I helped them with."

Treating her westernised older daughters as grown-ups has earned her their respect.

They, in turn, have sought her advice on boys and sex.

"At first, I was too embarrassed to answer their questions. I grew up in a conservative Asian family and didn't even discuss such personal issues with my girl friends. But I've since learnt to answer such questions because it's what a mother does."

The Young Mum

Tan Yifong, 24, founder of online fashion store Ministry of Retail, was just 21 when she became pregnant.

Her daughter Clarisse, now two, more than makes up for the carefree lifestyle she thought she would miss.

Yifong literally grew up overnight when she took a semester off her final year at university to give birth.

After confinement, she juggled her studies with diaper changes and night feeds, with the help of her mother, who used to be a babysitter, and her husband Vincent Goh, now 30.

At that time, the couple were also seeing to another baby - their online business, which was in its infancy - and had to make do with finances that were barely secure.

However, getting pregnant early turned out to be a blessing, for Vincent was later diagnosed with lymphoma cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy.

His doctors have advised him against fathering children over the next two years.

Thankfully, the cancer is in remission and the couple are enjoying bonding time with their daughter.

"Clarisse does so much to amuse us. Once, she crept up on Vincent, who was engrossed in reading the papers, and screamed. Seeing his shocked expression, she burst out laughing. I would never trade moments like these for the freedom of staying out late at night whenever I please, which people my age still do."


1. Get the May 2012 issue of Simply Her for more interesting stories. Simply Her, published by SPH Magazines is available at all newsstands now.
2. Cheryl Leong is a features writer with Simply Her magazine by SPH Magazines.
3. Check out more stories at Simply Her online,

Also check out the May 2012 issue for these stories:
a) Face Your Fashion Fears Too afraid to wear this season's tropical prints, pastels and clashing textures? We convinced three women to brave these new looks.
b) Five Shortcuts to Look Like a Star There's no need to hire your own 24/7 grooming entourage. SIMONE WU shows how you can have instant Hollywood glamour - on a real girl's budget.
c) Divine Durian Love it or hate it, there's no denying the fruit's allure. The Simply Her team gorged on way too much cake and ice cream to suss out these durian offerings.


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