No, I’m not a mom — yet. But just like many other women in their early 30s with no children, I hear the quiet tick-tock of that biological clock in the background of my life.
Before I know it, the alarm will sound when I turn 35, and from then on, I’ll be known as an elderly primigravida — an old first-timer mom — in the medical circles. Why this odd ode to potential future moms?
It’s Mother’s Day in the Netherlands and while I’m not a mom yet, I have the reproductive potential to be one, so why not celebrate anyway? More specifically, why would I want to have a hypothetical child in the Netherlands as an expat? Here are a few reasons:
As we already know, Dutch kids and Dutch moms are the happiest. That’s promising for both me and my kid(s) — and by proxy, my husband, who would be surrounded by me and a possible horde of little gremlins. Even though our kid would be a Canadian-American raised in the Netherlands, for the rest of this post, I’ll refer to them as a Dutch kid.
My Dutch kid would be raised to be independent. Dutch children learn to speak up and speak frankly. They learn about reproductive health early (one must only watch the Lentekriebels episode from De Luizenmoeder to get a hilarious perspective of the debate about teaching kids sexual health), which really should not be as controversial an issue to cover as parts of my home country sometimes makes it out to be.
Also, they can bicycle around on their own when they’re old enough so that I wouldn’t have to play the American soccer mom role. (Although I do secretly look forward to cycling in a bakfiets with a kid, or maybe a few pet bunnies if no kids, in cargo). The list could go on.
My Dutch kid would learn a gazillion languages. Okay, well maybe not a gazillion. However, there are more than 7,000 living languages in the world, with 23 of them accounting for more than half of the world’s population — so even if they learnt just three of them (English, Dutch, and maybe French — my husband’s mother tongue), they’d be pretty good to go.
Besides, for Europeans, multilingualism is standard in many places, especially for younger generations — not (as some adults see it) just another set of job skills to develop.
While unlikely, said Dutch kid might also learn a bit of Mestreechs or some other Limburgs dialect. Did I mention that knowing more than one language can increase cognitive flexibility and reserve? It is even associated with differences in brain structure as an adult. Brainiac child with all-natural, organically-cultivated, and enhanced IQ and EQ? Why not?
My Dutch kid would be able to get a college degree without accruing as high of student loan debt upon graduation as they would if I were to raise them in the US. With tuition on the order of a bit more than € 2,000 euros annually, versus tens of thousands of US dollars per year, my plan for saving tuition money to pay for their higher education is therefore greatly simplified — and doesn’t have to start pre-conception.
Naturally, the trade-off is that I’m paying higher income tax, but that’s another story. I could also do what some Dutch (and American) parents do and let my kids figure it out on their own: take on a student loan and get a job — like many young adult Dutchies do.
My Dutch kid would probably be able to be treated with some of the earlier-generation antibiotics for treating infections. Why, you ask? Dutch doctors are notoriously stingy on prescribing antibiotics, prescribing the least antibiotics of all countries of the European Union. As a result, the Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of antimicrobial consumption in the world (second to Chile as of 2014) and, consequently, the lowest rates of antibiotic resistance.
Your kid got the sniffles? Bring on the paracetamol and reserve the big guns for the situations when they may actually need them. By the way, before their 18th birthday, there is no premium to pay for that sniffling kid to have standard health insurance and also dental care.
As a follow-up to number five, my Dutch kid would grow up tough-as-nails. A Dutchie friend recently told me she got a nasty gash on her leg during a Spartan Race — the kind with obstacle courses and lots of mud — which required a visit to spoedeisende hulp (SEH, or the emergency room) for some stitches.
And it was no big deal at all, she got the stitches with zero anaesthetics. Okay, so don’t quote me on this — in America, I would get nailed for child neglect or abuse for letting my kid get stitches without any anaesthetic, plus I would be a hypocrite myself and ask for the lidocaine, please — but wow. I was definitely shocked and mildly impressed.
7. Health care in the Netherlands
Finally, let’s say in seeking older first-timer pregnancy status, I encounter fertility problems. Thankfully, I would not need to shell out thousands of dollars for fertility care and treatment (I quoted a US figure ranging from $1,182 to $61,377 previously). Fertility treatments are part of the Dutch standard health insurance package, with some eigen risico or co-payment needed, which is far less than in the US.
When the time comes for maternity care, midwifery services, and then popping that baby out of the womb and into the world (birth care), these are also part of the standard insurance package. Good for me and for my Dutch kid, especially if said kid is a daughter. (By the way, she would also get contraceptives covered by her Dutch health insurance until she has her own baby.)
So, Happy Mother’s Day all the moms and moms-to-be — for when, in the future, you give birth to a Dutch-born kid who is happier, more independent, smarter, tougher, and more insured against a lot of health issues, than from our origin countries.
How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Would you want to be a mom in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments below!