Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sometimes you don't realize what you have...

I had a long conversation with a pregnant Danish woman this week. She worked at a spa near my apartment and I had gone in for a pedicure. It was my first pedicure in Denmark - very nice, she did a good job making my feet smooth, but she didn't paint my toe nails. Isn't that kind of the point of a pedicure?

Anyways, the woman was in her late 20s and about 6 months pregnant. She was nervous about having her baby, about labor and what life would be like after the baby, etc. I am now an expert on all these things, having gone through them exactly once. So, because I can't help myself, I started offering my expert advice. I told her labor would be fine, we're built to do this, etc. etc.

Then I said how lucky Danish women are because of all the services for new moms here, including home health visitors who come to check on new babies instead of parents having to get out of the house and to the pediatrician. My pedicurist looked at me kind of funny and said, "I thought they did that everywhere." I told her about getting home from the hospital in the U.S., not sleeping all night and then packing up our tiny baby the next morning and going to the pediatrician where we had to wait in the waiting area with sick kids.

"Wow," she said. " I had no idea. I guess I need to appreciate things more here."

It occurred to me that many parents in Denmark might not realize all the things that make being a parent here so fantastic:

Things like the mother's group all women who have babies here are placed in. The hospitals put you in a group of moms from your neighborhood who had babies in the same month as you. Then the moms meet up weekly. Many mother's groups last for years.

Things like paid maternity leave that lasts up to a year.

Things like the abundance of changing tables and high chairs in public places and restaurants.

Things like stroller space on city buses.

Things like playgrounds in every park.

Things like super-affordable and really outstanding daycare.

Things like the annual passes to Tivoli and the Zoo and the Experimentarium that make them very affordable.

Things like the free teboller (soft and delicious roll) you get at my favorite bakery just for showing up with a little kid or the free piece of fruit kids get at some supermarkets upon checkout.

Things like the free carousel at the toy level of Magazin and the big play area in the toy area at Illum where you can take your kids on a rainy day and let them play without any pressure to buy things.

Copenhagen is a pretty fantastic place to be a kid (and a parent, too.) It's not like this everywhere.

I am glad I got to talk to the woman at the salon, maybe she will have a new appreciation for her home country as she brings up her child.

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