Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reading at 40 vs 19

Yesterday Jeannine and I were talking on the phone and dissecting something we are both familiar with this year-Our last (in my case, my only) child going off to full day school. 

When our babies were born, 3 of them with 18 months in-between each, we spent a lot of time together. One of my favorites things that I did when I was a SAHM was to go to Jeannine's house. She would welcome me in, with a cup of coffee and we would stand in her kitchen for a few minutes and chat. We'd then retreat to the living room where the kids played, fought with each other, wet their diapers, ate cut up banana and then we made lunch. After lunch, depending on the season, we would sit on her porch or tour her garden or have more coffee in the living room. Those were very good days.  Sometimes the days and years seemed so long. Like those babies would be babies forever.
And last week, it was just OVER. just like that. Our little girls are eating lunch in their school cafeterias now. And we were discussing this. And something I said reminded her of something she's reading and she said "Oh I have a book for you, it's about JUST this very thing." and rather than wait for her to finish the book, I downloaded it to my nook because, well, because I could.

And she was right. Right there in that book was another woman's experince mothering a daughter. (The book, Traveling with Pomegranates, by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor, is actually about a woman with a grown daughter.) But the essence of it, those feelings, were the same, being that I am both a mother and a daugter.

Which got me to thinking. I read a lot. I was an English major in college, mostly, I think, because I love to read.

But I wonder if the  the things that I read in college would have more weight with me today. Make more of a mark, garner more meaning.  (Except perhaps for Healthcliff in Wuthering Heights. Healthcliff my romantichero, I might tell to just GET OVER HIMSELF ALREADY. I think if I read Wuthering Heights for the first time at 40, that I might see him as the self-absorbed jerk that he is. Some things, I guess, are better left for the young...)

I could have read about Sue Monk Kidd and her daugher before I had a daughter and I would understand how she felt. But would I have felt what she felt? I don't know. Maybe literaure is better, the more life you have lived. I think people should take literature classes when they are 40 rather than 19.  I think that is why so many people (mostly women)  join books clubs. Maybe I should join a book club. Maybe I should just keep reading books with Jeannine. Maybe when I am 80, all these books will have a greater meaning still.

And if you are wondering, Jeannine and I are fine and are going to have a grown-up day on Monday. Coffee without interruptions. Perhaps a yoga class. Lunch that does not involve grilled cheese or peanut butter.

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