The pursuit of happiness

How did I ever spend my free time before having a baby? It looks like I had all the time in the world to master Dutch language. Speaking of which, IND sent me another reminder letter the other day, wanting to know precisely how many hours a day I spent on study.

Really? Really?

Here is my answer, 15 minutes on "Schooltv" sometimes when I breast feed my baby. Schooltv provides all kinds of educational and informative programs to Dutch kids aged 4-16, and I enjoy it quite a lot. I hope whoever reads my reply would be touched by my effort and honesty.

Being a mother makes me realize that I can do almost anything one-handed. Why do I need to go to the gym when I am training my biceps and legs by walking up and down the stairs with a 6.5kg baby in my arm every day? In the meantime, my other hand is available to, according Dutch women, "keep doing whatever I want with my life".

I finally get a taste of the balanced lifestyle of women in the Netherlands! Researches have shown that Dutch mothers are the happiest in the world. It is because a lot of them work part-time in order to stay physically and mentally healthy.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law can’t agree with this more, and offer me their hands so that I could continue teaching three half-days a week. I feel like the old me during those few hours.

And, the male members in the family share their opinion with me.

One day, I drove to my sister-in-law to pick up my baby boy after class. As soon as I walked into the house, the two little nephews gave me a worried look. "Aunt Iris, there is something wrong with the baby." My adrenaline started pumping.

"The neckline of his clothes is pink. It doesn’t look right." The school should have taught them that pink is the new black.

Another day, our baby had a regular check-up. The nurse measured his headband size and it was the same as last month. I was of course nervous, but my father-in-law saved me from the panic attack. He slowly had a sip of his tea, "I thought his head was big enough. Does it still need to be any bigger?"

What opinion has my husband contributed?

When I was pregnant, hubby was thinking of getting washable diapers. He said, "we can rinse them, put them in a bucket during weekdays, and wash them all together in the weekend. That shouldn’t be too much of work, and that is very eco-friendly."

"I doubt it. With the smell of eight diapers per day, our neighbours would ring the door bell on Tuesday the latest." I gave him a suspicious look.

"Oh, no no, your neighbours wouldn’t want to come themselves. The police will come," a friend assured us.

Now he is the one who knows if the diapers are on sale in Kruidvat. He is also the one who changes the diapers in the evening and the weekend.

So, ask if I feel tired from being a part-time teacher and a full-time mother? Yes, I am often exhausted. However, when I compare to what I have received in return, I would like to borrow a line my husband uses sometimes.

That is "I don’t mind. In fact, I like it."


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