Esther de Weert (33) has been living in Sweden for a year and a half. She works as a business coach and is married to Bas (32) and mother of Xaviér (almost 3).
“Xaviér had the greatest fun when he discovered how to make snow angels. Arms up, legs spread – voilà, a work of art in the snow. You should have seen his face, he was glowing with pride. It reminded me of my own childhood, when I also enjoyed sledding so much and always celebrated my birthday in December with a skating party on natural ice. Nowadays, those kinds of winters are an exception in the Netherlands. That is why I am very grateful that I can now make those beautiful memories here in Sweden with my family.
Bas and I had been dreaming of emigrating for years, but it wasn’t until Xaviér was born that it felt like the right time to do it. His birth announcement reads: ‘Discover, enjoy and chase your dreams.’ If we want to pass on that life lesson to our child, we must set a good example ourselves.
He was one when we left, he could just walk. The bumpy paths in the Swedish forests proved to be the perfect school for developing his balance. He now balances over all tree stumps he encounters and runs between the trees to collect branches.
He really is an outdoor child – fantastic, because one of the main reasons for our emigration was our love of nature. I used to cycle and walk a lot with my parents on the Veluwe. We also went on holiday to the Alps, where we walked for hours in the mountains almost every day.
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Our house in Sweden, an hour west of Stockholm, is practically in the woods. If we walk down a bit, we are on the edge of a large lake. We are outside every day – rain or shine. Okay, only in extreme cold do we crawl in front of the wood stove.
“At minus eighteen he looked at me: mom, what are you doing to me? Luckily it doesn’t always freeze that hard”
I can still see Xaviér standing in the garden at minus eighteen, with a numb face that spoke volumes: Mum, what are you doing to me? We had just returned from a visit to the Netherlands, where it was plus eight. The contrast could hardly be greater. We immediately traded in his ski pants and jacket for the best possible winter suit, with sleeves that fit his skin so that no wind gets in the way.
Fortunately, it doesn’t always freeze that hard. Because we live in central Sweden, there are also weeks with temperatures just above zero and no snowfall. But even then the days are short – in January the sun sets as early as three o’clock in the afternoon. That’s why I’m secretly happy when spring comes again.”
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