There's no one home but Gideon, the baby, and me. And we're deliciously close to bedtime so I'd planned to read stories on the comfy couch with my two little ones nestled close to me, smoothly coasting through the next hour with minimal effort; the only sort of ending to this kind of day that I even have the energy for.
But his pale blue eyes look so earnestly into mine as he leans into the baby on my hip and tugs her toes. Can we go to the woods, Mama?
And I feel that toe-tug all the way to my heart-strings and because I've been listening more for Him of late I hear the Holy Spirit's gentle whisper of Go. Say yes, and so I do.
But it isn't until I've slipped shoes on my feet and a jacket on the baby and tucked her into the backpack, and we head out the back door and over the dike and into the woods that I remember.
It's tick season. It's yucky tick season.
Every year, when mid-spring arrives, so do the ticks. Our dog brings them into our yard, our boys bring them back from their romps in the woods, and so my skin positively crawls when I step out to hang laundry on the line. We check and double check before we step in the house and we STILL find them from time to time, behind an ear or on a scalp.
And I stop in my tracks and wonder how we will make our way to the river through bushes and branches that are surely teeming with ticks, me without a visual of the defenseless baby on my back, Gideon with naught but a staff and a smile to ward off the nasty little creatures, and why, oh why did I say yes to this?
But he beckons me with his blue and I take one step towards The Next Good Thing, whispering a prayer to that (lovingly) pesky Holy Spirit that he will honor my Yes and protect us, and help me to Be Here Now with my boy and soon, we're through the woods and at the water's edge.
He hands me rocks (one can't expect a thirty-six year old mama with a baby on her back to be able to bend over much, you know?) and I throw them into the water for our silly puppy to chase. The baby shrieks and Gideon tells stories and I deeply breathe the fresh air and I know. I could have missed this. How could I have missed this?
And it's not a precious or dreamy statement in the slightest, but I'd brave a million ticks for him.
Any time. Any place.
p.s. We did not bring home any ticks that day.
But p.p.s. We have a Cup of Ticks by the back door. Filled with rubbing alcohol and dead ticks pulled from our dog and a child or two who carried one home over the last week . I walk right past that Cup of Ticks numerous times a day and stand in my bare feet to swing the baby and hang the laundry.
I am rocking tick season. Because, what else can I do? It's all for love.