The struggle is real.

I took my 3 year old to the dentist. It’s called Poetz (I think it means ‘brush’ in Dutch).

After the check up, the kids went into overdrive. It was like they’d used up all their reserves of pretending to be normal, and had reverted to their deranged ways.

I needed to make another appointment. While trying to sort this out with the receptionist, I was distracted by trying to reign them in.

The dentist had given the kids rewards. The 3 year old had chosen emoji stickers. As I carried her to the receptionist waiting area she was quietly absorbed, decorating my boobs with them as I held her. I put her down and she immediately joined in with the antics of my 5 year old.

The dentist had given him a bouncy ball as a reward. (A BOUNCY BALL. She clearly hates parents and this is her revenge!) He was going fuckingbananas lobbing it at the walls above people’s heads. His sister started glee shrieking and chasing him around.

The judgement vibes lay heavy in the air from the other calmly waiting parents and kids.

I was kumfumbled and starting to nerve sweat.

My Dutch was coming out garbled and nonsensical. It’s like my brain was short circuiting.

The receptionist eventually refused to speak any more Dutch and we switched to English.

Linguistic shaming of the highest order.

I finished and herded my wired smalls out.
We left.
Went down 4 floors.
Paid the parking.
We got to the car. I realised I had left my shoes behind in the dentist’s reception area.

A space queen, with two unhinged kids, in her socks, in a car park.

We went back up to the 4th floor. I held the door open, while the 5 year old ran in for them.

The receptionist laughed at him for forgetting his shoes.
“They’re mama’s”, he piped up.
The look on her face was something else.
“How did you forget your shoes?”
She was so dismayed by my lack of life skills. The mute waiting parents turned to watch with interest.

I did the mutter-shruggy-eyebrow parent thing. She looked slightly alarmed. Her nose wrinkled and her eyebrows pinched together. I had a sudden fret that she had the mental health unit on speed dial and was reaching for it.

We rapidly shuffled back out.

When we got back in the lift, I caught my reflection in the door and realised that I had feckin’ smiley faces for nipples. I had been boob winking at everyone, thanks to my 3 year old’s enthusiastic sticker application.

Suddenly I understood what life must be like for those people who lose ONE shoe along the side of a busy road.

They were brain drowning. Overwhelmed by life. And possibly had my children with them.

Expat overwhelm.
It’s a thing.

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I was born in Ireland, grew up in England and met my Cornish husband in Catalonia. We now live in the Netherlands, in Dutch suburbia with our two differently wired, small kids. I spend my days parenting, writing and being amazed at all the Dutchness around me.

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