Monday, September 20, 2010

My Provincial Swedish (so called) Life
Living 30 minutes outside of the city with no job or friends, I could really just show photos of corn and mushrooms all the time. But I will find something else besides how my garden grows to blog about, and actually write a post.

Yesterday we celebrated Father's Day, as we had skipped observing American Father's day this summer because we were traveling. Our own Father's Day was also a way to mark the end of my husband's father leave, or pappaledig. He has been off work since June, and we had the whole summer together as a family. In Sweden we get 480 days of paid leave per child. We had one child here March 2009, and moved when my first daughter was 3 1/2. We get the full 480 days for her as well, which we can use until she is 7. But now we have used all the leave for the child born here, thus the celebration, and my husbands return to work.

The sleep-in morning plus a nap, waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, balloon-and- banner royal treatment for Fathers day
And come next sometime February to Mid March, our third baby will arrive, bringing another 480 days of leave. Yes, it is that time again for my French press to be filled daily with my favorite mix of dried herbs, to make the same pregnancy tea I was drinking when SwedeBaby was born.
Sweden is a great place to have babies. After working in birth in the USA, where the outcomes are the worst in the developed world, and the medical system (especially in regards to birth) is a god awful wrecked mess , it was a relief to birth in sane, safe Sweden. But I have not been able to work here. Sweden does not recognize my education or ten years running my own birth center, so I am unemployed. Mostly that has been great, as between pregnancy and being immersed in new baby hood, and all the travel we have done with all that pappaledig, I have been happy to not have 50 pregnant women calling at all hours of the night like they did back in the day. I have been plenty busy exploring Sweden and figuring out where to buy chocolate chips and other hard to find items I miss from home . So busy I have not worked on my Swedish hardly at all. Which does nothing to make me feel like this is my real, long term life. It is my so called life.

There are so many reasons it has been good to be here. But I am feeling especially lonely and home sick since coming back from our summer trip. My creative energy was bound up trip planning. We stretched the limits of budget travel and via home exchange and by eating lots of oatmel, we saw the south of France, the Ligurian coast, the islands near Venice, the hills of Italy, lounged in volcanic thermal pools near Capri, ate gelato at Trevini fountain in Rome, and toured the magical Neuscwhannstein castle of the Alps. All by driving the distance that in the USA would take me from Florida to Washington DC. Now the trip is over and my mind is free to look to the future once more, and I am wondering what life will bring next. So when thinking to the next baby, we are planning how we can use the pappaledig time to set us all up to be living the life we want. If we can figure out what that would be.

We said we were moving to Sweden for three years, and we would see how everyone was doing. That date comes up next summer, and I can feel the questioning of 'So, how are we doing?' burning inside.

It is a question every American who marries a Swede, or anyone who lives in one place but has a foot in another country has to constantly live with. I have a American friend here 7 years who is growing unsettled by the conformity Sweden asks of her exceptional children, a sister in law that just moved to Sweden from Washington DC, a new friend about to move here, a blogger I read who is just plotting her return, and a friend married to a Swede living back home in the Sunshine State. Each of us living with all the questions that come when you are living a great life, with an alternate dream life elsewhere.

So I am looking at Sweden with the eyes you have when you come back from a big trip, and are relieved to see home. And with the eyes of someone who is living a temporary, lovely experimental, so called life. And with the eyes of someone who misses her family, and her friends. So I am simply trying to keep them open. And my heart open.

I mostly put up pictures these days, have little time or inclination to write much since having baby #2. But let me share a few random things I could write long blog posts about but never have....

This is the food truck. I hear there was a documentary made about it. It comes down out street every Saturday just before noon. Not too early, not too late, just the right time to get any brunch ingredients you may not have on hand for the weekend.
It has a whole mini grocery store in it. We try to patronize the food truck whenever we have the chance, as we want it to keep coming. It is frequented by the elderly people on our street who come here to their little houses they still have as weekend and vacation cottages, the few houses not yet converted into regular suburban homes that harken back to the time this was a place people only came to escape the city. One little old lady from the neighborhood who lives nearby used to buy my little girl a treat each time she saw her on the truck. The lady has now moved to the village center so she can have more help for her sick husband. The food truck, a little part of my old fashoned, provincial so called life in Sweden. ~
Today I began getting my 18 month old settled into her part time day care, and my girl went back to her sweet little Waldorf school. We will pay about $1800 this YEAR for for 25 hours of private Waldorf school for the girls. In Florida, it would be less hours and cost $15,400 for a year for both girls. If they still go to this school when primary school aged, it will be free. It would cost $30,000 annually to send both of the children to Waldorf school in the USA for the amount equal to an decent annual salary.

When I picked up my big girl at 4pm it was cold, gray, and and she was outside in a rain suit rolling down a hill over and over with her friends. She was breathless, sweaty, and happy. If she was in the USA, she would be in a classroom all day, with state mandated goals, and worksheets for homework every night, an no time to play and certainly no hills to play on in the rain. I really think it is healthy to wait until kids are seven to start school as they do in Sweden. I could go on and on about that point. But suffice to say I am happy my girl has a chance to wiggle, dig, explore, and lives in a place where people believe there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing.

After school we stopped at the grocery store. The big nice one a village over with a better selection than our local store. When you walk in, there is a TV playing Winnie the Pooh movies and kid sized table and chairs.... you are invited to just leave your kid at the door watching TV while you shop!!!
Never, oh never would this happen in the USA. When we were home in winter, I had to tighten my girls roaming radius in public to conform with American standards for fear of kidnapping. Even so, I had her returned to me as 'lost' once when she was in view an aisle over at a thrift store. The sense of safety and freedom for children in Sweden is one of the things I like. Kids ride their bikes, and take public transportation everywhere. In my town in the USA there is not a single child to be found on the street.
The big sister got to sit while we shopped, little sister just got in the picture when I paused for a photo.
Did I say I could skip writing and just put up pictures of wilderness, produce, and mushrooms? Well it is true.
Because these grow here.
Saw this one on the street on the way to the food truck this weekend.
So Elsa Beskow
And after picking corn we drove through the forest and stopped to see mushroom after mushroom on the forest floor in Hackeberga Nature reserve.
A fairy condo development
This one is called 'Chicken of the Woods' and is edible. But being pregnant, I am not taking up mushrooming just now...a bad time to make an beginner's error, so I will take photos for now...
So much to love about Sweden.
And so many minutes to spend thinking about it in this quiet, so called life.


Rose said...

You had me at food truck.

I think of you every day, and what a wonderful existence you seem to have over there. I know it has its challenges, but at least your bills are paid and your country actually gives a shit about how your family is doing.

I have been thinking LOTS about childhood and school lately. I find myself on the Waldorf School's website from time to time, thinking it would be the ideal place for my Boy, but knowing that the only way we could provide it would be if I took a job. Kinda sad really.

And the papa leave! Perhaps we should move over there, my husband can get a job, then we can take the next 960 days off. Only kidding. Mostly.

I know it's hard being away from your village, but it looks like a pretty sweet deal you have over there. Hugs to you.

Mama Bird said...

So much to say to all this... I'll have to stop by again later, after I've better collected my thoughts. Meanwhile, sending you love from home.

Antropologa said...

Yes, it is a quieter life. And I think it is great for small children. For bigger children I am not as sure. And I like the sense of nature all around, even with all the rain. We just got here and plan to be here at least three years.