Tuesday, September 9, 2014

my heart in cambridge

We moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts almost exactly a year ago. [That was true when I started writing this post 4 weeks ago! Ahhh, babies!]
view from path along the Charles River
When we were getting ready to move, we were anticipating a vacation of sorts. [Insert hysterical now-we-know-better laughter.]
Ben was attending a 1-year program, and while we were open to him finding a job there afterwards, we figured we would likely be moving again after the school year. He was leaving a Phd program, where he did research and attended classes, so for some strange reason, we thought a masters program (at Harvard) would be easier and less time consuming. We pictured traveling around New England on weekends, exploring the sites, evenings in Boston.

[more hysterical you-people-are-delusional laughter ensues.]

Move-in day.

Ben's dad had driven with him in our moving truck from Omaha to Cambridge. My dad flew in on moving day to help with the unloading. (Somehow they got our sectional couch up 3 flights of stairs.) I was supposed to fly with my dad but accidentally booked a flight for a day later. Woops. Coincidentally, it was the same flight as my mom. So, she and Addie and I arrived after everything was already in the apartment. I highly suggest making that mistake for future moves...

I remember opening the little airplane window as we flew in over Boston. It was beautiful. Ben's dad's flight out was not long after we landed, so we crossed paths in the airport, said thank you and goodbye.

When we got there, the apartment was bigger than we'd pictured it, very comfortable for the 3 of us.

Addie was at a great age - she could sit and play happily, but not move.

We had 2 weeks to get settled and explore before Ben started his program, so we hit all the tourist sites.
Seafood on the water.
 Boston Common "Frog Pond." (Huge little wading pool with a fountain in the park. So fun.) 


Otto's Pizza in Harvard Square

We got tired of dragging our huge stroller everywhere, so we bought an Ergo Carrier and a fancy umbrella stroller. (We bought both used for $80 total. 2 of the best baby-item purchases ever, by the way. I wish I would have known about both of these products sooner.)

And we bought bikes. Everything we read said don't have a car in Cambridge. (Bikes were fun, but they were a mistake. We should have just brought our car out from the beginning. Live and learn.) 

Those first couple months were so fun. Let's call this the 'honeymoon phase.' 
We thought we could stay in Cambridge forever. We really loved it. 
The honeymoon phase lasted through most of the fall. 
Ben's program started and he was in his element. Programming and coding all day. Interesting classes. Brilliant professors. Surrounded by nerds. It was awesome. Meanwhile, on the home-front, I was setting up our new apartment, taking Addie on walks, exploring new places, meeting neighbors. And then a few people decided to come visit - we had friends or family in town 4 weekends in a row. Not to mention, New England in the fall is as beautiful as they say it is.

So the honeymoon continued.

During one of those friends' visits, I felt really nauseous one night. My friend made a joke about being pregnant. I was a couple days late, but didn't think too much of it. I thought it was the seafood. The next morning, though, SURPRISE! Pregnant. [I've written more about this here, including a 'disclaimer' about the whole you're-talking-about-a-surprise-pregnancy-on-the-internet-while-some-people-are-walking-through-infertility thing.] 

After our last weekend of visitors sometime in October, I would say the honeymoon phase finally wore off. I often felt tired. I was tired of small talk, and craving close friends. Ben had schoolwork looming over his head every waking hour. Not to mention, it was a bit of an MAJOR adjustment becoming a full time, stay-at-home-mom. So little adult interaction. So many tears. (Hers and mine.) So much work for seemingly no progress or results. This feeling of, what the heck am I doing? Not to mention, I was getting larger by the week. 
October, November, and December were hard. 
We were eager to see family. Eager to feel like we had a home. 
Many mornings (and afternoons, and evenings), I prayed in tears.
Sometimes I cried out loud. Sometimes they were silent.

But, the Lord heard. 

He heard every prayer, and collected every tear
He drew near to me on the hard days. He rejoiced with me on the good days. He comforted me in the loneliness. He brought me friends. He gave us grace in our marriage, and taught us more about each other and Himself in 6 months than we might have learned in 6 "normal" years. (Whatever "normal" means.) 
He asked me to trust Him to provide in every area... 
to provide the energy, strength, consistency & discipline I needed to be a good mom.  
to provide the connection, balance, and time we were trying to find for each other. 
to provide deeper friendships. 
to provide a job for Ben at the end of the school year.
and on and on. 

So I did. (Not perfectly, but Jesus never asked for perfect faith. I believe his exact words were, "If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,' and it would obey you!") (Luke 17:6)  

Well, we made it to December.

Our church gave out free Christmas trees. [This is how I know my husband loves me - he dragged it upstairs and set it up with me even though we were leaving town a week before Christmas and he'd have to drag it back downstairs to the trash 2 weeks later.] 

We went out for a celebratory brunch when the semester ended.

Ben passed his classes.
We were halfway done with the year, and headed home for the holidays. Hallelujah.

But something supernatural happened, ironically, while we were back in the midwest.

I started to miss "home." And by home, I mean Cambridge.
Cambridge had become home.
Looking back, I can see more clearly - not much had changed circumstantially by December. Our life was very much the same.

But, God's answer to my request for a changed circumstance was a changed heart.

While we were back in the midwest, I realized had gotten to know some other moms better than I'd thought, and I missed those friends. I missed our little apartment. I missed our neighbors.

Cambridge had become home.

So, when we began the 3 day & 8 state road trip back to Cambridge, I was excited.
Excited to be going home.
And that was supernatural.
That was the Lord. He knew that what I really wanted was to feel like we were home there. And he provided for my heart in a way I didn't even know to ask for.

Enter the winter. (Winter in Boston actually does last a really long time. It still felt like winter when we moved in May.) We were refreshed and ready to tackle second semester. A lot went down from January through May, but here's the bottom line:


He provided everything He said He would and more.
More than we could have thought, asked for, or imagined. Just as he promised.
Ben and I learned how to connect with each other in refreshing ways.
I learned how not to be crabby about Ben's long hours with school work.
He strengthened us for the work that is parenting a toddler. [Holy cow. It is hard work, people.]
He strengthened my increasingly pregnant body to be able to climb 3 flights of stairs every day. [A definite feat.]
He helped us feel connected at our church.
He grew our relationship with our neighbors.
And, He again provided me with life long friends.

Fast forward to May. I wrote more about it here and here, but long story short, we decided to move back to Omaha. Ben took a job at Hudl, we rented a house, had a baby, and here we are.

One year later.
In a similar position as were one year ago, (albeit, closer to family), but starting over in a lot of other ways.
New things to be adjusted to.
New friends to be made.
New church to connect at.
New neighbors to know.
New job to figure out.
New baby added.
New season to be journeyed through.

Some people have asked - how's it going? Are you settling in?
I usually smile and nod, but the answer is more than that.
It's yes, and it's no.
Yes, we're embracing what's new, loving all the time with family, and settling in. Bits and pieces of life feel like home is here now. And I know the Lord will stitch my heart into the fabric of our new life that is in Omaha.

But part of my heart is in Cambridge. In Cambridge, where we ventured away from family. Where I became a stay at home mom. Where my baby learned to walk and talk and became a toddler. Where we had neighbors that became dear friends. Where other moms opened their hearts and lives to me so quickly and deeply. Where we had the most wonderful play group. Where it seemed like it'd never be home and then all of the sudden I was sad to leave.

And maybe part of it always will be.