I had a lovely day last Saturday. You know sometimes I say “lovely” just casually, and flick it into a sentence, not necessarily because I mean it but maybe more because it’s a euphonic word, and my sentence can sway to it. But other times, like now, I place it purposefully in a sentence because it makes the point I seek to make. My day was calm, uncomplicated, restful while motivated and motivating. I had a leisurely morning and then took my son to his cross country meet and then we stopped for lunch, joked about the curious way people in our region are football or Nascar heads, nearly got stuck in a traffic jam but knew a back road route that offered up more curves and extra distance but also more time to be in the company of each other. It was lovely. And particularly because, sadly, I don’t feel like we get many days like this. Even when we do share an event and a meal and car ride, it’s seldom without the extra layers of tightening schedules, imposing deadlines, intruding obligations, and nagging “issues.” But Saturday wasn’t like that and I was sure to resonate with the ease and simplicity of it while it was happening—a skill that has taken me years and years to develop and a skill that even now needs sharpening. A skill I wish I could have had since early motherhood but probably couldn’t because, alas, I only learned it through the relentless lessons I learned through mothering.
And then there was the meet, which offered up its own delights. The weather was beautifully moderate, warm and slightly breezy; the surroundings were soothing—nestled in the mountains and up against a lake. And my son was running. Running for all he was worth. And I was taken. Taken in, and taken back, and taken outside, for a moment, of my own needling sense of inadequacy when it comes to things athletic, or just physical even. And I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as I watched him run because I am so indescribably relieved that a child of mine feels comfortable in his own skin and free in his own body and powerful in his own solitary person. No sense that he needs to escape himself; he does not share my desire to, as music artist Jewel sings, “outrun my skin.” And it’s a beautiful thing, I would imagine, to feel good in the skin you’re in; it’s sure a beautiful thing to watch.
The middle school girls had a race too, and from where I sat on the route, with the runners running toward and then in front of me, I was able to behold the beauty of girls running and I found myself smiling wide and tears trickling down as I thought about all the girls whose lives are profoundly different because of their access to sports. I thought about Title IX and about how, since the 1970s, there are ten times the number of women athletes as in 1972 when Title IX was passed. The world for girls is most assuredly a better one and Title IX has been a critical part of that, as Allison Kimmich writes in her post “Three Reasons Why It’s Great to be a Girl Today.” I remembered as I watched the runner girls about all the myriad benefits we see among girls and women who involved in athletics—from later life health benefits to reduced involvement with smoking drinking, and drug use, to fewer unwanted pregnancies, to lower likelihood of being in an abusive relationship. I searched the faces of these girls as they ran my direction: such physical strain, such testing of bodily limits, such resolve to keep moving. It was a beautiful thing to watch. A beautiful thing to benefit from, as Leslie Heywood writes in her post “The Running Boom is Back, and Me With It.” After the race, the girls walked past me, groaning loudly from the exertion, faces fixed in expressions of near anguish—an exertion and near anguish that they’ll volunteer for again—and I found myself not envious in the least but delighted by the moment and their prowess. My son walked past with his medallion he was awarded around his neck, invigorated by his ability to continue improving his “personal best.” I bathed in his energy, snapped a photo and posted it to Facebook, and appreciated my rare opportunity to have a day so lovely.
For other Title IX facts, see these sites:
Women’s Sports Foundation: http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/Content/Articles/Issues/Title%20IX/T/Title%20IX%20Q%20%20A.aspx
Title IX Information: http://www.titleix.info