Basically we’ve been working endlessly. Between my husband and sons repairing and hauling trash out of one of our rental properties every Saturday, and me working three jobs plus homeschooling, there’s been no margin.
Today coming home from my early morning job, modest winter rays were just reaching across the fields. I felt a flicker of hope; maybe this Saturday we’d escape for a bit, leave the work for a day and drive to D.C., go to the free museums, eat a picnic lunch (I’m aware that it is winter and cold, but we aren’t finicky), and just enjoy putting some road between our unending work and our tired hands.
I came in the door and asked whether we needed to work today on the rental. Yep. That meant I’d be home with the littles and needing to get my business tax preparation done. Have you ever tried to focus on numbers, receipts, deductions, and reimbursements while little people tug on your legs? It is rather hard.
As the coverlet of night was pulling itself across the darkening sky I grasped at one last chance at fun. “Let’s go to That Fish Place!” It’s an enormous pet store near us with lots of rodents, snakes, lizards, fish, birds, and best of all, a touch tank with sting rays. We unashamedly use it as a free zoo.
My kids bopped from display to display “OOH, MOM, a RAT!”, “MOM LOOOOOOK!”, “MOM, can I have a hamster if I buy it with my own money? (insert endless negotiations here)”. I gave myself time to look at the Skinny Guineas; hairless guinea pigs! They are so hilarious! I watched the hamsters nestle together in piles to sleep. I talked to the birds. I remembered my childhood dream of living in a greenhouse with a stream flowing through it, tropical plants thriving, birds flying freely among the branches, and a deep blue swimming pool at the end of the stream. My bed would be a hammock among the trees and all floors would be slate and could be hosed off. I digress.
God bless my husband for giving me time with the sting rays. I’ve visited them before, but I’ve never had such an enchanting time. Today they bestowed all sorts of attention on me. I wiggled my fingertips near the edge, and I had four or five lined up waiting to ascend the edge and flop over top of my hand!
At one point I looked up and there were a dozen or so people patiently waiting for the rays to circulate, but I had them all in front of me! Either I was standing where they are usually fed, or I am a sting ray whisperer (what joy would THAT be!), or most likely, God gave me a gift, sending his little ones to cheer me.
Oh how they succeeded. With great wonder I watched them approach, slide up the short wall, lift their front lip/snoot/flapflapthing and touch my fingers, then hopping a bit to cover them, then tilting and gliding over them. I spent almost an hour greeting them, touching them, and enjoying their unique personalities. God provides.