Hilde: “Shit, can I maybe borrow a ten from you? That was Pim’s opening line when I first actually spoke to him. It was the reunion of the wedding of joint friends and we had dinner with twelve bridal staff and supporters. Although I had been one of the bride’s witnesses, I had barely spoken to Pim the year before.
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As a witness to the bridegroom, he had sat silently at the same table in front of guests of honor in the town hall, and during the party we both hung out with our own clans: I with ‘team bride’, he with ‘team groom’. I had noticed that he had a nice face. But I was in a relationship. Although it was on the verge of collapsing. In addition, I saw friends there that I had not spoken to in a long time and other men were the last thing I dealt with.
And now I was sitting at the table with him again, although on the other side, separated by ten others. I had been single happily for almost a year, bubbling with zest for life. Pim hit it off, that much was clear. All evening long he gave me furtive looks. Charming, I thought, but it never came to a conversation. Until the bill came, which we would each pay for ourselves. Pim pulled out a stack of fives and tens, swore under his breath, and left for the toilet. When he came back, I just collected all the bills to put it in the bill folder. With his hand on my shoulder and his most charming smile, he crouched next to me and spoke his winged opening line. I didn’t know what to respond to, that sexy smile or his impoverishment.
The fact that he went out to dinner, ordered gintonics as if they were colas, but had no money for a metro ticket home, of course had a red flag must be. He was 29, you can expect a little responsibility in that phase of life. But maybe he just forgot his debit card. Or was his salary late. I was sometimes tight myself, that can happen to the best. So I put an extra ten euro in the folder, when asked Pim app my account number and left home.
A few days later he stood at my front door with a cheeky grin, the borrowed ten guilders in his hand. “I still have some of yours,” he said. “Can I pay the interest in a cup of coffee?” This was the second time he surprised me with his impertinence, but again I gave in to his charm and agreed. Our first son was born almost four years later.
My mother raised me feminist. On her own, my dad is a sperm donor. When she finished the latest Opzij, she put it meaningfully on my nightstand. “Never become dependent on a man,” she instilled in me from an early age. I would study and keep my own beans.
I am still grateful to my mother for those life lessons. I have a great, varied and well-paid job as a consultant, with which I earn more than eighty thousand euros a year. In addition, I have been investing since I was 20, which has given me a buffer of almost 100,000 so far. My mother gives me the maximum tax-free amount every year. Better than when the tax authorities want a part of her inheritance, she says. I don’t think the money is important in itself, but the independence is. And fortunately, because Pim does not want to work.
Mum earns a living, dad stays at home: ‘I just like hard work’>
A little lazy
Pim has an education and no reason to sit at home full-time, other than that he hates work. A bit lazy, I think, but he is very caring and social. The only one of the two of us who organizes dinners for our friends, who doesn’t forget birthdays and knows exactly when it’s Miss Day. He can bring a bunch of flowers to my mom on a whim just because he was thinking about her. I love that about him.
When I was pregnant with Noah, we agreed that he would stay home to look after the baby. Until then, he had occasional odd jobs as a handyman – he’s incredibly handy – and filed tax returns for self-employed workers, for which he was once trained. But it made him very unhappy and it hardly brought any money into the drawer. However, we decided to arrange childcare for two days from the moment Noah was six months old, so that Pim would have the space to continue to develop himself. He has never worked a day on it until now.
Grandpa and Grandma Day
Every Friday the children stay with his parents. They wanted a grandpa and grandma day, but we think the day care center is so consistent and a night of daycare helps us more; this is how we really get to each other. In practice, we go out for dinner or do something else fun at most in a quarter of those evenings. The fact that we can sleep in the next morning makes it the perfect evening for Pim to go out with friends, while I prefer to hang out with Netflix to recover from my work week.
The four of us manage just fine from my salary. Of course I have a relatively high income, but if you consider that we do everything we can, there is not much left at the bottom of the line. We live in a nice house of three and a half tons. Spacious, comfortable, but not a villa. We go on vacation every year – until Corona. If Pim were to work, even if only during those two days of childcare, a six-ton house would also be feasible, and we could also enjoy winter sports.
Nothing we can’t miss, it’s the choice we made when we had children. But very sometimes, when I have taken the children out of the daycare and find Pim unshowered with the laundry unfolded on our bed, I am disappointed by the situation. Then I say that he can contribute a little more and he still takes care of the household with hanging legs.
After that we have a solid lovemaking and everything is peace and quiet again. Some friends call it unequal, I call it ‘us’. Because apart from the fact that I love Pim dearly, he also makes a lot possible. Enough families where the situation has turned. I am glad that we can give it an emancipated interpretation. I am happy with my career, Pim with his lack of it. And the children benefit. Winter sports are always possible. ”
This article is in Kek Mama 15-2020.
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