Knees bent like a clothespin, I grind rhinestone-encrusted pink ostrich roper clogs into the pea gravel just enough to balance myself. Instinctively, my ears listen for the whiny buzz of airborne Louisiana bloodhounds--swamp mosquitoes who can smell human sweat on the wind from across a hay field.
The mocking bird's joyful song, though, is what carries on the wind. It's the same song she started the morning the cool front came through and hasn't quite gotten out of her system, each verse different as she imitates every sound she's ever heard.
My head dips low with the late afternoon coolness as I wait for sounds of the school bus shifting gears before she rounds the corner and emerges from the tunnel of trees that make her almost invisible in their deep shadow.
I'm tired. Too tired.
To my left, I watch an ant struggle with a moth carcass who knows how many times larger than its tiny exoskeleton. Other ants come along to see what all the fuss is about, but none line up to help him like in some cartoon. They move on their way, leaving the ant alone again, turning the moth back and forth in his mouth pinchers.
I smirk cynically, tell him to give it up and turn to swat a couple mosquitoes who have found me.
When I turn back, the moth is gone. My eyes scan the ground until they catch a flash of tattered white wing. The single ant is not only succeeding in his quest but is now climbing the brick wall surrounding a flower bed, all with the weight of a dead moth in tow.
Millimeter by millimeter, the moth is pulled upward by invisible hands until the ant reaches the top and pulls his meal into the space between where his home is.
Wyatt's school bus turns the corner, and I stand to greet him, all the while thinking how much I identify with that ant.
Husband and I knew these next two years would be rough, but knowing and doing are two different things.
When I home schooled all three children, husband would spend the evenings with them, then put them to bed later than late. Each evening, I would put in an eight hour shift teaching online and then the children and I would all wake up to begin our day long after the sun had stretched her arms over the pine trees lining the back of our property.
It was different, but it worked for our family.
Then, God made it clear that Wyatt was to public school for kindergarten while I continued to home school the twins for two more years until they reached that age. That meant a required 6:40 am wake-up-and-move-it call for this mother who works the night shift seven days a week.
At the one-third mark in the fall semester, I've been struggling to balance homeschooling the twins during the day with spending quality learning time with Wyatt after school and my nightly teaching load.
The only thing left to give is my sleep. And so, it gives, and I with it.
Then, Wyatt got sick Wednesday night, he and I up together all night before an hour-long trip into the city this morning to the doctor who logically explained the frequent bathroom trips, the complaints of being too exhausted to walk, and the scary high fever that wouldn't break.
As I navigated early morning traffic, I couldn't help but overhear the backseat teaching lesson Wyatt was giving Emerson. One minute, he was telling Emerson about being sick, coming into my room last night for me to take his temperature and tuck him back into bed. The next, he was going off on this long, winding soliloquy explaining who I am.
"You know, mommy works at night so she can stay home during the day and play with us. Most mommies go to sleep at night like we do and have to go to work during the day, but not ours. Mommy works on computer with her stoo-dents while we sleep so she can be with us...She doesn't sleep so she's tired. But she's home with us to take care of us..."
I was stunned and instantly left feeling blessed that at almost six years old, he understood, at least in part, some of the sacrifices I make for him and his siblings....and that he even appreciated those choices, how hard I try to be the mother God has called me to be.
It's humbling, for this is always how it is. When I am at my lowest, my heavenly Father never fails to send someone to lift me up, to confirm the path I'm walking, to encourage me to put another foot forward.
Earlier this week, it was a fellow blogger in my inbox. Today, it just happened to be the voice of God speaking through the lips of my child.
Photo: One uber-strong ant carrying a dead moth to his lair between the bricks.