Recently, we celebrated two of the most important gals in my life who both happened to be named Molly.

Mom turned 70 and Molly Mae turned 7.

For Mom's birthday, the Bates family gathered in East Tennessee in the beautiful mountains.

The guys went fishing, Becki took the kids to the amazing aquarium in Chattanooga and I got in some quality time in the mountains running.  . .and sometimes walking. We enjoyed time together before coming back to Fredericksburg to celebrate Molly.

Nana and BJ enjoyed taking cupcakes to her class, and we all went to the nail salon to "do our nails."
 Nana got to see the girls in their weekly horseback riding lessons (thanks to Daddy Doug).
 And Nana went with Molly to breakfast to celebrate her buddy, Ms Bobby....who was on the Maine trip  when they realized they had their same birthday.
And Mum Mum brought them together.  Oh when I look at this picture, I have so much love for this special relationship.
On Sunday, Molly had her experience. We try to swap up every other year from "an experience" and a party, and this year it was high tea at a fancy hotel. I let Molly bring one friend, and she chose her friend, Darby, who lives up the street. Molly and Anna Cate play a lot with Darby and her older sister Katie.  Nana wanted Anna Cate to go, so I thought we should invite Katie too, so it turned into quite the afternoon.
(Yep that is Anna Cate on crutches. . .she is now on a scooter since something has happened to her ankle (the orthopedic doctor said either a bad sprain or hairline fracture).
We met my dear friend Dorinda, who is the one gave us the idea of tea at the Willard.

Molly was happy for a lot of reasons, including her fancy new dress from Norah.

And she got to bring a friend, who got to bring her sister since Nana wanted Anna Cate to come, too.

The girls were perfect little ladies.

It was a special day, one where I'm so thankful to have daughters, girlfriends and a Mother to celebrate flowers and frills.

Molly at 7.  Ahhh. It is the passing of an age where I feel like we have a little girl, but in these years that separate me from the day she came into this world, I somehow see her as my little girl more clearly. 
She is sensitive and strong, and as we have journeyed through some tough months as a family, we have called her "our rock." Her honesty and emotion make being in her presence either pure bliss or excruciatingly raw. Her humor and wit is met with coarse honesty, fear, anger, love and joy. She feels deeply and draws me in with her pure and deep approach to life.  I enjoy her humor and admire her honesty. She is in touch with her feelings even thought at times, she can't control them.
I pray I honor her with my presence and emotions as fully as she absorbs life. The way she loves and expresses emotion with full gusto draws me in closer to her and to life, and reminds more what it is to be human.   It might not be a coincidence that in this season where my life has been so shaken I've been grounded by watching her embrace life with authenticity.  
I distinctly remember a conversation I had with my friend Erin when Molly was 3, where I shared with her that Molly was an enigma to me. At 7, I feel like I understand Molly more deeply. Maybe, the feelings I have for and about her are not a mystery since they cut to the very core of myself. I don't know if it is motherhood in general, or if it is our likeness in particular that touches me so deeply in this journey with Molly. 
In celebrating my mother and my daughter, I am reminded of the precious connections of life and these beautiful souls who share their hearts.  Thank you, Mom, for showing me how to connect and love, how to celebrate those we love.  Molly Mae, thank you for the reminding me anew of how important it is to fully embrace life with purity. Thank you for making me laugh, love, feel and think. The ways you embrace life with your heart inspire me. 
"Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in a heart." 
- Khalil Gibran