Being an international family is not always easy. You always live far from one set of family and friends, and one partner is always an immigrant, an outsider trying to fit in.
But talk about options. Two cultures, two systems, two languages to choose from.
And you cannot do much better – if you are at least middle class, which we are, than Sweden and America – the welfare state and the richest country in the world.
It is almost embarrassing, how you can plan your life. I was talking to an American a couple weeks ago, and he told me about a family he knew. He almost whispered it.
The family moved to Sweden when they had kids. Got all the parental leave, the cheap high quality child care, the money for your kids (yep, the swedish state gives each kid a couple hundred bucks a month).
Then they moved to America. Lower taxes, more money, big house, fast track careers.
Oh, and the sun. How could I forget the strong American sun, the escape from winters that grind your soul into a fine powder.
Then they sent their kids to college in Sweden. F0r free.
The story ends there, but if they stay true to form, this couple will retire to Sweden for the health care and other benefits and winter in Spain or Florida …
The guy telling me the story sort of shrugged with embarrassment. I might have smiled ruefully.
Do we dare game the system so?
For I am on paternity leave but I certainly have not paid Swedish taxes my whole life. And if we ever move back to America, I will stop paying those Swedish taxes.
And when they hit 18, I am sure I will not stop my kids from studying in Sweden.
Just the thought makes me feel guilty. But E tells me to get over it. She has been in the system the whole time, she says. Our kids are Swedish. They might live in Sweden.
And, really, we would never move just to milk a system – either here or there. We are about other things.
But what a perk …