I cried when we found out we were moving to San Francisco.
I cried because we’d never be able to get August into a preschool in this crammed city packed with kids on waiting lists since their days in-utero. I cried because I had finally been able to afford a babysitter a few days a week in Austin, and I’d finally been finding the writing time I’d long-hoped of having. I cried because if I had to pay a gazillion dollars for August’s preschool, I’d never be able to afford a babysitter. I’d never finish this book I’m working on.
I sent an SOS out to my mom friends in San Francisco. A friend directed me to toward a Jewish Orthodox school that shares a program with the state to help kids of all incomes go to preschool for free. That’s right. I said, FREE. Five afternoons a week. California is paying August’s way and he’s also learning Hebrew, which is really cool. (Even though I was totally embarrassed on his first day when he told the teacher that “Torah” is a weird word. Ummmm. Sorry?) One more gift in the whole story? His friend Gideon from our church is in his class too.
When I first found out we were leaving Austin, I cried because I’d felt like August did not get to have the kind of outdoor life he needed when we lived in San Francisco before. Our neighborhood was very urban and also a bit unsafe. I never felt too worried outside during the day but I very rarely took him out on my own at night. The walk to the park was long and uphill and when I was pregnant/the mom of a newborn, it was difficult to find the energy to get August outside.
I cried that August and Brooksie would not have a place to ride bikes or run around outside without my making a big plan. (And we all know plans are not my forte.) I cried because I longed for garage parking. (Trust me, carrying groceries and a sleeping toddler down two city blocks while pregnant is a feat I don’t want to accomplish again.) I cried for a backyard to get outside in…for those short 30 minute increments when boys need to stop jumping on the bed and get outside.) The week we learned that moving to San Francisco was a certainty, I was in New Orleans speaking at a youth mission trip. My friend Carolyn sat with me after I received the news. I cried, face in hands, about the backyard thing. She said, “Micha, I’m praying for an outdoor space for you. That will be my prayer. Some sort of miraculous outdoor space.”
We decided to live in the neighborhood where people go to have kids. It’s far from the cool parts of town, which, of course, means that the apartments are bigger and sometimes (sometimes!) they have shared space in the backyard.
Can I tell you that the apartment we found was the second place we looked? We happened to be looking during the busiest weekend the city had seen all year. So much was going on that weekend that no one else showed up for the open house. (That is unheard of in this city where 40 people may arrive at an open house at once.) We got our application in and were approved before the owner had time to show it to anyone else. Bam!
Can I count the gifts? A washer and dryer, a garage, a shared backyard space (with the other apartment in our house), a short walk to two different parks and the library. And…I like it. I like that apartment. It’s actually really pretty.
Carolyn was praying for the outdoor space. My mom was praying for the garage and the washer and dryer and probably other things. What we weren’t praying for was a room for an office. And, yes, my friends. There is an office for me.
Above and beyond, right? What does that mean? I have this hesitation about saying: “Look! God gave me a washer and dryer!” because I know there are a lot of people who don’t get washers and dryers. I have friends here in San Francisco with two kids and crazy lives and no washer and dryer in their apartments. Do I hold this out as an answer to prayer? Do I say: “Look how God loves me! I got a garage AND an outdoor space?”
I don’t know. I’ve asked these questions for years about so many good things in my life. All I can tell you is that I wept over this move and everything that stood in my way—the impossibility of preschool, the babysitter fee, the outdoor space, the washer and dryer, the cost of living—all of it was taken and shaped by God into something sweet and good. Some people might read that and say: “Oh, it’s because you have faith.”
Nope. I don’t have that much faith. But I do believe God loves me. Would God still love me if I didn’t get to sign a lease with an extra room for an office? Yes, God would still love me. And he would remind me in some other way, I’m sure.
But for now, all I have is the responsibility to celebrate. If I had a pair, I’d put on my red shiny party pants, and do the backyard-space dance. Then I’d do the FREE preschool dance. And then the washer/dryer dance. And I’d ask you to shout out the gifts you’ve been given too. And we’d all get our awesome shoes on and show the music what’s up.
Consider this your invitation to the party.