When I first moved abroad, I noticed myself getting caught up in romanticizing the U.S. It took me some disappointing back home to shake myself awake to this. It is no wonder. Can anything live up to romanticizing? To combat this endless defeating cycle, I consciously decided to find things I liked about my new home and new situation. I chose to romanticize the present.
Sometimes, let me tell you, I had to rely on the smallest of things. For instance, they sell dark chocolate sprinkles here in Mac n’ Cheese sized boxes. I love sprinkles so this was a windfall for me. Some days (and weeks), I couldn’t find anything. One thing I love here, though, are…babies in beer gardens. You read that right.
Living in a different culture – I mean really truly soaking up and accepting another culture – can make my daily life look far different from I ever imagined. The basics are the same. My husband and I have six month old daughter. She is teething so that suddenly takes priority and our weekend revolved around how she was feeling. Pretty normal parenting stuff.
Well, I for one was ready to get out and about a little on Saturday. The sun was shining and I wanted to have some semblance of an adult life outside the four walls of our home at least as long as E would tolerate it. I really wanted a drink.
So my husband and I did what most Dutch couples do. We headed to a cafe with outdoor seating and order ourselves each a (Belgian) beer. I did not think twice about it at the time, but I got to thinking that we had basically just taken our baby to a bar. In the U.S., this is a classic hallmark of bad parenting. I would have to think long and hard about even writing a post about this for fear of the DCFS knocking on my door.
In The Netherlands, it is totally normal. Granted, we did not belly up to a bar with E and proceed to get blindingly drunk whilst revelling in a cloud of cigarette smoke. One of our favorite watering holes is De Paas, a place known for it’s 166 types of bottled beers. In sunny weather, they open up their outdoor seating – a converted boat floating in the canal in front of the bar – and it is great to meet up with friends and people watch. Neighboring restaurants and bars also have floating seating areas so it is really pretty cosy or gezellig as the Dutch would say.
De Paas is a ten minute walk from our house. We wore E in our Moby Wrap. Wearing E (it just sounds so weird doesn’t it) is oftentimes so much easier than naturing out with a baby stroller. The streets here are pretty narrow and the center of town where we live can be packed on Saturdays with shoppers visiting for the day. And who really wants to wheel a baby carriage up to a floating outdoor beer garden? Finding seating convenient for the stroller can really be a problem.
My husband and I each managed to enjoy a beer before E had enough of the excitement. She sat and stood on my lap making a game out of reaching for my mouth or beer glass or my husband’s nose. It dawned on me that I would never do this in the U.S. It was such a nice and relatively easy (albeit quite short) trip out.