When they were young, I suppose all my thoughts about the children started with knowing they were mine. Because they were mine, I had to think of what I should do for them, of what Nathan and I could do for them to get them started in the world. Now all my thoughts about them start with knowing they are gone.
. . .
I take some blame on myself for this. Maybe, given the times and fashions, it couldn't have happened any other way. But I am sorry for my gullibility, my lack of foreknowledge, my foolish surprise at the way it turned out. Grandmam, who never went to high school, was desperate for me to go to high school. And I, who never went to college, was desperate for my children to go to college. Nathan, who also had never been to college, was less ambitious for the children than I was, but he agreed with me. We both wanted to send them to college, because we felt we owed it to them. That was the way we explained it to ourselves . . . It just never occurred to either of us that we would lose them that way. The way of education leads away from home. That is what we learned from our children's education.
The big idea of education, from first to last, is the idea of a better place. Not a better place where you are, because you want it to be better and have been to school and learned to make it better, but a better place somewhere else.
This isn't information I learned, exactly, but an idea I'm chewing on. Intimately bound up in my children's education, and asking myself all the time not only what to do, but what it's for, I do think about this: if they go away, they'll never come home.
And, well, if they do and they don't, they do and they don't, and it will be something of myself to sacrifice. On the other hand, I have let them know that I would be perfectly happy and proud of them if they lived around the corner from me and brought my many grandchildren to play in my house every day. I've told them this not only out of selfishness -- though it's an idea not unalloyed by selfishness -- but because sometimes I think that people need permission not to strive for greatness, whatever exactly that is, when what will make them happy is not to be great or striving, but to live simply with, and near, people they love.
Anyway, that's what I've been reading, and that's what's in my mind. You?
Related: A meditation on Mariette in Ecstasy.
MM with some biblical textual exegesis.
Meanwhile, you can revisit great posts from previous weeks, and if you've happened to write a book post lately, you're welcome to add it below: