(Coffee Break is a Bible study for women that is pretty universal across the Christian Reformed Church, which is the denomination Mark and I both grew up in. We have yet to settle on a church here in our new city, but we still have strong ties to more than one CRC in the area, so I happily accepted an invitation to join the group. An hour and a half to be something other than a mother every Wednesday morning? I'll take it!)
As I sipped my coffee after sending Isabel off to nursery, someone sat beside me and asked the question I've been getting whenever we see one of our friends, family, or acquaintances: are we settled?
The answer is difficult. Technically, I suppose we are. the boxes are all unpacked. We've bought ourselves a new couch. We've tried out different furniture arrangements in our living room and master bedroom. We've hosted a few guests. We've painted a room. We've even done some of the expensive, necessary, but not glamourous maintenance and renovation jobs - knob and tube replacement, fixing some plumbing. Our house has become comfortable, and the more time I spend in it, the more I fall in love with it, the more it feels like home.
Yes, I told her. More or less, we are settled.
Our new town is even starting to feel like home. Isabel and I have found some fun playgroups and have settled into a routine that gets us out of the house and around other caregivers and kids. Our neighbours are all friendly - yes, all - and many have gone out of their way to welcome us to the street and the city itself. They've gifted us homemade bread, 15 year old, mint condition, hand-me-down toys, and pitch forks. They've helped us clear out the intense amount of shrubbery that overwhelmed our house when we first moved in. They've brought our dogs back when they've gone wandering - twice now - exploring the neighbourhood without a leash. Our neighbourhood feels safe and with each wave and pleasant exchange, it feels just a little more like home.
It's different than Toronto, but yes, I suppose we''re settled.
Except, I don't feel settled yet.
I expect it's obvious why. Today, I am 37 weeks. "Full term", far enough along that Baby Girl can come any time she wants, though not yet far enough along that she's likely too. I still have a list of things to get ready, not the least of which is my own mental preparedness. I have spent so much time and energy over the past few months getting settled in this new place and so little time on working through what it will look like to bring another life into our family that I feel like the whole event is working on creeping up on me unexpectedly. 40 weeks is not enough time to get ready for this.
Did I feel this way when Isabel was born? I expect I did, but I remember very little about the last couple weeks of waiting for her. I remember knitting contentedly on the front porch. I remember reading - though I couldn't tell you what book. Instagram or this very blog might be able to fill in some of those holes, and if it can, I imagine the life I lived in those three weeks following the start of my maternity leave and before Isabel's arrival looked very different than the way I'll spend my next few weeks. I imagine it will look far more settled, even if I didn't feel like it was so.
Perhaps, in hindsight, I felt more confident bringing Isabel into the world.
Perhaps, more naive.
I don't know when this baby will join us. Any time now! So they say. And even more unsettling, I don't know how I'm going to fit her into our life. I know we will figure it out, and we'll figure it out with the same level of confidence and certainty with which we fit Isabel into our life over two years ago - we will do what we have to do. But, until I am in the depths of motherhood times two, I know this unsettled feeling with follow me.
Not long now.
Three more weeks.