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Friday, 25 May 2012

I think the Dutch really dig motherhood

In German, the word lecker means delicious. But, with a few exceptions, the Dutch don’t have much food they can call that. Oh I know there are the stroopwaffels and the poffertjes and the nieuwe haringe and there are several other things but I think you really have to agree that Dutch cuisine is not famous for its refined food.

Maybe this is the reason why in Dutch, the word lekker means so much more. Lekker warm people say when they see Julia nicely wrapped in her blanket to keep her warm in her stroller. Ze is lekker an het speelen- the nannies at Klara’s daycare tell me when I come to pick her up.

My personal favourite is lekker slapen- to sleep deliciously. It is my favourite for two reasons. First, we have a similar expression in Polish, smacznie spać. And secondly, look at your children when they’re sleeping, and tell me you don’t want to eat them! My children look so sweet when they sleep I totally have to control myself. You can’t have your toddler and your baby and eat them, too.

But then there are two expressions that are not so obvious. The first one is lekker belangrijk. This means Yeah, that was really important. NOT. The lekker, while denoting something very positive is used to make the belangrijk less belangrijk, less important. The other one? To explain the other one, I have to tell you a story.

I had a gift certificate for a haircut and wanted, nay, was desperate to make use of it. So I took the tram, found the hairdresser and waited my turn (it was “zonder afspraak”, people!). When I finally sat in that chair and explained to the stylist how I want my hair done, she started making the usual “haircut small talk”. At some point I told her I had children and that they were still little. To this, she replied: Oh, 2 kindjes! Lekker druk!

To me, the lekker druk made no sense. To be druk means to be stressed, to be very busy. But what is the lekker doing there? And after a while, I understood. She was acknowledging the fact that motherhood, while delightful and joyous, was also tiring and just plain difficult. And I agreed with her. I felt grateful that she didn’t tell me to enjoy every minute of it since they grow up so fast.

We really, really enjoy being with our children, and playing with them, and reading and singing to them. Children are fun and a great opportunity to learn. But we do not enjoy every minute of raising our children. We do, however, enjoy most of the time with our children. And people who tell young mothers to carpe diem either didn’t enjoy parenting their children themselves or managed to block out the bad memories and held on to the positive ones.

The Dutch are very direct people. But at least they are honest. They tell you that having children is druk. It is a lot of work, and it’s hard work, too. But they also tell you that having children is lekker: delightful, funny, and yes, delicious!

I am lekker druk. I bet you are lekker druk, too!

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  1. Dear European mummy:-),
    thanks for this interesting blog! I am a mum and journalist from Germany, working on a book about global parenting, different parenting styles and childhood philosophies worldwide. I just read a bunch of child wellbeing statistics and it seems like the Dutch kids are pretty much the happiest in Europe:-) I would love to talk to you by mail about your thoughts about this, especially since you have a polish background and a German husband. If you like, just contact me by email: m.schonhoeft@yahoo.de with kind regards from Berlin, Michaela.

  2. I love this post! (especially as a new mom; I can really appreciate it)

    1. Hello, Meredith! Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you like my blog! By the way, a month of gratitude-great idea!

  3. I love this post! I read it previously and meant to comment then. What a wonderful expression! It really does capture what parenthood is like. Thank you for linking up at the Culture Swapper!

    1. Hi Leanna, thanks for liking this post. The word "lekker", delicious is one of my favourites in Dutch. And the expression "Lekker druk"? I've never seen enything that describes being a mom so prefectly.

  4. You've been featured on this month's Culture Swapper! http://alldonemonkey.com/2013/07/01/july-culture-swapper/


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