“You must really like Norway if you are going back.”
“You must be so excited!”
“Do you love Norway?”
Whenever we tell people we are headed back to Norway they usually say something along those lines to us — why else would we be leaving our Colorado home, families and friends?
Well, the truth is much more nuanced. I am excited to return, but mostly I’m apprehensive about it.
The two years we spent in Norway were the hardest two years of my life. I’m not exaggerating. Yes, we did have some amazing highs, but the lows were so low and so frequent. During the first three months, one of us cried five out of seven days. The next three months we were down to just crying three or four days out of the week, and the next few months were just one or two days a week. Immigrating is hard. We were frustrated, lonely, and confused. We needed to learn how to do everything again — how to buy flour, how to open and use a bank account (in Norwegian), how to make a “social security” number (personal number), how to navigate a new city. We needed to make a community, to create a purpose for ourselves and to find ways to give back. All of these things took months and months. We weren’t fully set up there for an entire year. It sucked.
And then we were broke. Dead broke. Card bounced while trying to buy a street taco broke. One trip to the movies used all of our “extra” money for the month broke. Not able to take a commuter train to see friends broke. … And finding a job as an English speaking person was crazy hard. It took us 4-8 months of solid job-hunting to find restaurant jobs. It was rough.
Moving to Norway also represents other transition. I am going from Worker Brooke to Mother Brooke. I may find a small job, but my identity will be in motherhood and not my job. And while I think I’ll like that, it’s also a huge shift for me. I’m also going from constant family (we have lived with or next-door to my parents for the last year) to every-few-months family. That’s going to be tough. I’ve loved living with my parents and seeing them for dinner (and breakfast and afternoon coffee and after dinner games). I’ve really enjoyed being able to leave Elsie with them, people who don’t consider watching her “babysitting” but really want to be with her. And I’m sad to take Elsie away from her family (my parents, Jesse’s parents, my grandparents, cousins, and our friend/family). These transitions are adding to my apprehension.
It’s really not going to be as hard as it was last time. We have our lives set up in Norway. We still have a bank account, our personal numbers, cell phones and other life necessities there. We have friends. Friends that have become like family. Friends that are so excited to see us again. We have an income. We have an incredible church family that loves and understands the difficulty of immigrating. We have a place to live and we are sharing that home with another couple. We aren’t alone.
So I am okay with moving to Norway. I think it’s a good decision for my family. I am so excited to see Jesse do something he loves and is good at. I’m excited for the possibilities that will bring to him, to us. I am thrilled to see our friends again. I am looking forward to more adventures and seeing more of the stunning Norwegian wilderness and the historic European cities.
But moving isn’t entirely wonderful like so many think it is. It’s nuanced. I’m apprehensive about it, knowing how hard it was last time and adding the difficulty of motherhood. But I also know it won’t be that hard this time. So be excited for me; I am. But also know it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
(Harry Potter reference intended.)
Some photos of Elsie with her family: