The Core of Life

Anna Cate went home to Tennessee for a week with my parents to celebrate Daddy Doug and Kitty's birthday as well as cheer the Vanderbilt Commodore baseball team in the regional tournament.  We are still cheering them on as they are going to the big Dance for college baseball (or whatever you call the College World Series in sports lingo). This is a VERY BIG DEAL for Vanderbilt Sports Fans in general and the Bates family in particular. In fact my parents are on their way to the midwest today to go to the games with many of the their friends. Read about Daddy's best friend Chuck Offenburger's take on the excitement here.  The birthdays were a big deal, too. Anna Cate loves her Tennessee family so much and it so beautiful to see such a bond created over the miles in 5 short years.

While Anna Cate was gone, we really enjoyed the alone time with Molly Mae.  And in case I had forgotten, we were reminded how much easier one child is.

 We let Anna Cate fly home all by herself and as she walked down the corridor, comfortable and confident, chatting with the pilot, I was so proud of my little girl.

Molly was so happy to see "Sishshshy."

But life is better than easy for us with our family of four and the commencement of summer. We have been filling our days with fun, relaxation and relative productivity. I mean relative because in the scheme of global matters, we aren't doing squat, but I feel productive because the laundry is done and I'm working out plus my girls are entertained and happy.

We went out downtown for a family dinner and frozen yogurt, Anna Cate has started swim team, and  are Molly is practicing bubble blowing.

Molly thinks swim practice is fun because she gets to run around. I remember thinking last year as I was nursing my little baby that this summer would be easier, that my child would want to sit and play in the baby pool. Ha! I think I should just throw in the towel on easy. (I'm being facetious  here because I know that my life is VERY EASY compared to women in this country and around the world).

I got a kick out of the fact that Molly wanted to sit with the big kids and she wanted to sit and pretend to listen to the coaches. In my observing Molly's development, it is so evident how much we learn from observing others, which serves as a good lesson here because our kids are watching us!

The weather has been nothing short of heavenly this week inviting us outside for leisure activities like blowing bubbles....or staring into the wind.
Or just playing with the wands...

I just love being home with these girls.

During the months of May, June and September there are "Picnics in the Park" downtown with music and fellowship for kids and adults. We met some friends from church as well as Miss Diana and her summer crew. Anna Cate spent the majority of her time there in the face painting line so she could get this rainbow which took about 45 seconds to perfect.  The lady was so nice and seemed to take each child's request seriously.  I'm always touched with people who get joy from bringing it to others, especially my child.

As one might be able to predict, Molly ran around a lot yet stopped incrementally for hugs and kisses.

We are savoring the leisure of the season like our Summer Friday breakfasts at Eileen's after Thursday night sleepovers with Patti.

Enjoying the ride like a little excursion to see Daddy at work and get a ride on a gator.

Anna Cate and I had a girl's night to DC.

We met up with friends of mine from college.

Sherri is on the left; Jen, the right.

It was amazing, simply wonderful.  I have truly been blessed with friendships at every step of my life, but there is something so dear about college friends, don't you think?

Both of these gals played soccer for Cornell and I always thought that was way cool!  Clearly you can tell by the picture who the non-athlete is... moi.  Sherri and I are the same year in school and she married her college boyfriend, Travis, and they have two precious sons, Korbin and Luke whom Anna Cate enjoyed meeting and chasing them around.  

They were in town on a family vacation visiting the museums.  Sherri has such a calm, sweet spirit and has such a supportive, kind way about her;  it was so nice getting to really visit with her and watch her in action as mom and wife. Sheri is super smart and accomplished, has her Master's Degree in Environmental Management from Duke and now is a program director for Duke's School of the Environment.

Jen was in DC giving a talk in her field, clinical psychology. Jen is actually Dr. Olson-Madden as she has her Ph.D. and works for the VA. She married her high school sweetheart who is now an attorney in Denver, their home town, where they are raising sweet little Ava. 2.  She is two years behind us in school so I only knew her for a short time at school, but we connected. As always with Jen, I'm blown away by her kindness and how her beauty doesn't lead to one iota of conceit. She is as gorgeous on the inside as she is outside.

So I only talk about their career credentials because it is part of why I think my Cornell College (a small midwestern liberal arts school) friends are so dear....they transcend class, position in life or situation.  At this school,  people really connect to each other for who they are in the now, not the status of their family and it carries over into adulthood. Those bonds are such strong, grounded real relationships. The reason I started thinking about this is my brother's comments about my last post on the military and why so few Americans serve. His suggestion that suburbs divide us lead me to think that we seclude ourselves, expose our families and selves only to those in our same class. We are not comfortable with diversity in our neighborhood, in our schools and in our communities (by diversity, he means socio-economic status, not race or ethnicity).

I hate to admit this but I often feel less worthy because I don't have a prestigious career choice and I'm so impressed and awed by my friends who had such drive in their 20s when I seemed to lack direction.  And let me clarify that I am proud to be a teacher, I feel called to the profession and truly love what I do, but let's face it people, "call a spade a spade" -- a classroom teacher lacks prestige and financial rewards.  I struggle with the idea of career growth as I don't know where to go from here since I don't want to be a principal.  As an extrovert, lack of status and social position bothers me. Damn my ego.

Have I lived in the suburbia that Douglas detested so long that I judge myself based on socio-economic status? If so, I'm sickened by it. It is not who I am.  It is why I love a small town and feel so comfortable in church because in those communities, social standing does not determine relationships.  I was reminded around some pizzas in our nation's capital of the beauty of friendships that transcend time, place and status. I want to continue to surround myself and my children in true community with real relationships based on spirit, passion, and interests, not on titles or location and size of their home. If my brother is right that we don't feel a part of things in this country together, that we don't want to sacrifice for each other because we are uncomfortable with diversity, I want to reject that because it is not the core of who I am or how I want my children to approach community.

(We were able to set up this dinner because we are on Facebook, but I realized that Facebook isn't REALLY totally keeping up.  Seeing pictures or commenting on snippets of consciousness isn't as fulfilling as a visit.)

Yesterday I turned 35, and last year I went running to celebrate a portion of my day as well as enjoy a delicious orange chiffon cake made by BJ and Anna Cate. This year, I did enjoy another delicious cake but didn't run this year; I did go to some PITAIYO classes (one by myself and one with Anna Cate for a Mommy and me class). Pitaiyo is a fusion class of Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga.  In my journey of health, I'm committed to physical fitness and wellness not necessarily to achieve aesthetic results.  It is sort of a "no-brainer" as I feel like I've never been someone who looks like a rock-star athlete, lacking muscular definition or a small dress size.  But lately I'm noticing results from Pitaiyo in conjunction with all the other activities I do which has been a pleasant reward. This is a practice that focuses on  core stability in conjunction with a strong body, encouraging intentional positivity.  So maybe I'm not really seeing results, but I think I do, which is pretty much as good.

I think the lesson for success and wellness at age 35 (which as my husband so often reminds me is half way to 70)  is the results I will get from a strong core, both physically and spiritually. I guess I didn't have that drive in my 20's, but I know the core of who I am was present when I connect with friends I made from that time in my life. 

What I know at 35 is that I want to be intentional about my life, now.  I will ingratiate myself in  productivity of my days, which make up the years I count on my birthday. I seek to strengthen and challenge myself whether it is running, pilates, chasing Molly around a pool, or dealing with the uncomfortable issues in society like status, diversity and community and raising two girls to be successful but not shallow. 

I want to live fully with purpose and to break free from my ego. I want to say on the day that I commemorate my entrance into the world that I'm more focused on my purpose and less on my flaws. I want to see and feel what connects me to others rather than stand back and accept what separates me.  So while I'm not really fond of the lines you see around this face,

I am comfortable with them because I continue to cultivate the core of who I am, and that is worth celebrating.

"At the core of life is a hard purposefulness, determination to live."
- Howard Thurman



Sherri Nevius said…
You are simply amazing and I am so happy that you and Anna Cate were able to take the time tonsrive in that ridiculous traffic to come see us!
All I have today is thank God there are people like you who are teachers. I can only imagine how many of your former students will look back at their mentors and role models and will identify you as their's. Not many can say that, but I know that because of your genuine love of education and children, and your sweet, endearing, and warm heart, and your ability to see the best in people, you will and are leaving a positive mark on everyone of those kids you touch. While I hope my kids will feel that way about me when they are adults, I'm not sure I can say that others will look at me like that.
The time you take to be with your family, your connection with the church and your family, and the time you take to stay connected with your friends is amazing. Your blog always makes me smile and I love how you look at the world.
I hope you never think your career is not prestigious. You followed your passion in history, education, and family. Not many do that and end up hating their jobs; and think of it just as a job vs a career or passion There are so many things that make me envious of you, your choices, and your passions.
Keep on writing these heartfelt and insightful blog posts. I can't wait for your kids to look back at these when they are older!
Hugs to you and I hope to see you again real soon!
(by the way, I LOVE your banner picture!!)
Molly Bates said…
I don't know how you manage but they keep getting better and better. I'm enjoying them so much and I appreciate your taking the time to do it!