I just realized that September marked my 7th year of living in the Netherlands. That is a long time to live in a country and one would expect an expat to be fully integrated at this point. I should be either Dutch already or well on my way to becoming Dutch. But am I? I don’t think so. Here’s why.
- I rarely cycle anywhere
I rarely cycled back in Warsaw because I was too scared and besides, I don’t cycle very well. In the Netherlands, I should probably take it up, but since the kids are with me most of the time and the rest of the time it’s raining, which makes my window for cycling rather narrow.
- I’m polite
I still say “please” and “thank you” instead of “hoor”, one of the filler words the Dutch use a lot of, particularly instead of the aforementioned “magic words.” I can’t help myself though so that’s why I’m going to continue saying them.
- I don’t eat bread for lunch
Sometimes, I do but only when there are no leftovers from last day’s dinner- the option I much prefer to bread (especially Dutch bread). My kids get warm meals at school which is also nice.
- My kids have no routine
Routine. One of THOSE words: I know what they mean but I don’t know how to apply them to my own life. When my kids were small, they ate when they were hungry and they slept when they were sleepy. Now, since the kids went to school, we have something like a routine but it’s more thanks to the school rather than my own efforts. And no, I don’t own an agenda either.
- I don’t allow them to eat hagelslag all that much
We don’t have hagelslag, the chocolate sprinkles the Dutch love so much at home most of the time. Sometimes I buy them but mostly I don’t. But don’t ask me about pindakaas. We do have a lot of that.
- I didn’t have a homebirth
I wanted to. I really did, but it didn’t happen. With my third, I had a hospital birth with pain relief which I thought was amazing. Dreaming of a home birth was as Dutch as I could get.
- I’m still not tall
Well, that will probably never happen unless I start wearing heels, which won’t happen either because I value my dear life. Although it must be said that while I can do a lot to integrate better, this one is rather out of my reach (pun intended).
- I have no Dutch friends
It’s sadly true. Most of my friends are either expats or Dutch wives of expats. I tried meeting more Dutch people, of course, but all my attempts have failed so far. I see how this is my fault, of course because I am introverted to a fault and besides, I don’t have much time as it is. But one day, I’ll get myself a few tall Dutch friends. I promise.
- I hate Sinterklaas
I’m trying to stay out of the Zwarte Piet controversy but my problem with Sinterklaas is a different one: it’s noisy, crowded and therefore includes all elements I just can’t bring myself to love and it has another huge flaw: it just isn’t Christmas.
- My Dutch still isn’t perfect
My Dutch is fluent. I can read pretty well (even read two books in Dutch!!!!), I can say anything I n eed to say, but I feel ready for the next step: to get my Dutch to the same level my English and German are at. A lofty goal but not entirely impossible if it wasn’t for my time problem. That is, I don’t have a time problem because I have no time. But one day…
But in a way, all these things make sense. My goal is to balance out all the cultures and languages that are a part of me. After all, I didn’t call this blog The European Mama for nothing. Dutch is an important part but it’s not everything. At the same time, I think I cycle more than I used to (which was not at all), I got more comfortable with voicing my opinions, I’m happy and so are my kids. Maybe I’m dutchier than I thought.