One of the few ways I have managed to 'break in' to Norwegian society is through my Barselgruppe which is the baby group put together by the health centre soon after children are born. My group still gets together regularly and I see two of them several times a week at the kindergarden. This week we met up for dinner.
One of our number has recently given up full-time work as she just couldn't manage it with three children. I used to see her racing to school for drop-off and back again at 1530 for pick-up, always driving with her phone to her ear as if it was as essential to driving as the stick-shift. I asked her what she was doing with her time now, thinking she must be lonely being the onl Norwegian woman I know personally who doesn't work at all; she has a Filipina au pair so I knew she wasn't cleaning.
She said that she meets up with friends to go to the gym and have lunch. There's a group of them with kids at the local school. It seems that there are plenty of ladies of leisure in Baerum who don't need to work for financial reasons and so don't. I've seen them about in the shopping centre. They have kindergarden and school places for their kids, drive BMW X5s or Volvo C90s, and have au pairs. They workout at Elixia and go away on girlie weekends a couple of times a year. Of course, they have cabins in the hills for those winter skiing weekends and probably a boat moored somewhere for summer outings. They also tend to have three of four children.
OK so it's a stereotype, which is a lazy way of seeing the world, but it's a different one from that I had previously of Norwegian women. So, it's a second stereotype of women here.
Another conversation at the dinner table was about vasectomies. As most of us in the group are finished with pro-creating, it's a topic of interest. Unfortunately, my Norwegian wasn't up to understanding the nitty gritty so I can't pass any juicy gossip along. Clearly, I need to work on my language to really 'break in' and get beyond the stereotypes. Clearly.