NETHERLANDS:  The Twelve Braids, or What Does It Mean to Be a Good Mom?

NETHERLANDS: The Twelve Braids, or What Does It Mean to Be a Good Mom?

twelve braidsImagine yourself in our situation. Your friends are getting married. The wedding is in beautiful Italy. You decide to go, even if it means leaving your two daughters with your parents-in-law, and just take the baby with you. Your in-laws arrive and you ask them to take your 3-year old to dancing class, show them where all the things are and tell them when to bring the girls to daycare. You’re excited. You pack your bags the day before the wedding and go to bed.

But you don’t sleep. Instead, you talk. You tell your husband that you’re not really happy with this arrangement. That you don’t trust your in-laws enough to leave your children with them. That you don’t even feel good about your decision to leave the children with anyone. In the end you start crying and tell your husband that your eldest daughter doesn’t like you and that you’re the worst mom ever.

And then your husband tells you that you’re an amazing mom. After you calm down and feel somewhat better he tells you that he’s not happy with this arrangement, either. You see, our little girl has just had the chicken pox, and according to my husband’s calculation, our baby would be at risk of getting it right during our trip to Italy. The baby was fussy for the last few days, he has had no fever, but his temperature is slightly elevated. What to do?

Consider two possibilities.

Number one: You decide to stay. You’re afraid that if he’s going to get the chicken pox, it will spoil your whole trip. You don’t want the other children to get it, too, and besides, traveling with a fussy baby full of ugly itchy red spots is no fun. You tell your in-laws in the morning. They stay for a few days, but that’s OK. Your MIL learns to accept your decisions and to get out of your way when you sit down to read a book. You learn to tell her when you’re overwhelmed and exercise your privileges as a mom.

When your children wake up in the morning, you feel as if you haven’t seen them for ages. You’re suddenly full of patience. You’re relieved that you didn’t have to leave without them. You braid your big girl’s hair in twelve pink little braids. You feel great. Your decision isn’t entirely selfless. You don’t trust your in-laws and don’t want to leave the girls with them, and that’s OK.

Number two: You wake up in the morning, check your baby’s temperature and decide he won’t get the chicken pox after all. You pack your bags, kiss the girls goodbye and leave to catch your flight. You have fun at the wedding, you dance and sing and eat delicious food. You realize that you haven’t had a vacation for ages. You enjoy waking up in the morning without having to get three children dressed and ready for the day. You get to have a whole conversation with your husband. You go back home and are happy to see your children again. You feel great and relaxed and you’re sure that going to that wedding was exactly what you needed right now. Your decision isn’t entirely selfish. You know very well that having a short vacation will make you more relaxed and a better mom. And that’s OK, too.

How did we choose? We stayed. I was sad not to be there when our friends said: “I do”. Our son didn’t get the chicken pox; his skin is silky smooth as always. So, was it a bad decision? No. Would it have been a bad decision had we gone? No. The thing is that while I decided to stay, if it hadn’t been for the chicken pox threat, I would have gone to that wedding.

You can make a selfish decision and still be a good mom. You can make a decision seen as selfless and make it for purely selfish reasons. It doesn’t matter. You’re a good mom.

Have you ever been in this sort of predicament? What did/would you do?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and mother of three in The Netherlands, Olga Mecking.

The photograph used in this post is attributed to the author.

Olga Mecking

Olga is a Polish woman living in the Netherlands with her German husband. She is a multilingual expat mom to three trilingual children (even though, theoretically, only one is trilingual since she's old enough to speak). She loves being an expat, exploring new cultures, learning languages, cooking and raising her children. Occasionally, Olga gives trainings in intercultural communication and works as a translator. Otherwise, you can find her sharing her experiences on her blog, The European Mama. Also take a while to visit her Facebook page .

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