When J. and I were first married, we were at a restaurant and noticed an older couple across the room. As our dinner progressed, I became more and more distracted by these two people. You see, for the entire duration of their dinner, neither of them said a word to each other. They sat and ate and ate and sat. It made me profoundly sad. Had they been together for so long that they had nothing more to say to each other? J. and I never seemed to run out of things to talk about; would this happen to us one day? It's truly amazing the things I can find to worry about.
Well, I have crossed that worry off my list. (Quite some time ago, actually.) I don't think J. and I are in any danger of running out of conversation. First, we have too many children for that to ever happen. While we do talk about many things other than our children, they do take up a significant portion of our conversational topics. But what about when all of our children are grown and out of the house? What then?
I still don't think we will become the silent couple we saw in the restaurant all those years ago. You see, both J. and I love to learn new things... and consequently read dozens of books in learning those new things. We find plenty to talk about just sharing the new things we have learned or read about; often things that the other of us wouldn't have been drawn to.
Learning new things just makes life more interesting. Sometimes when we are in the years of mothering young children, it can be easy to just do the 'have-to's' because it is both physically and emotionally demanding to parent this age. But it is perhaps even more important to continue learning during this stage. I've heard too many women complain that they feel they have lost their brains; maybe what society says is true: that mothering is not terribly difficult and not a worthwhile way to spend one's time. These women expressed the fear that being home with their children was making them brain dead.
It doesn't have to be this way! Perhaps the baby and toddler years are not the best time for choosing to brush-up on ancient Greek literature; that would require more sustained reading time than mothers of young children generally have, but there are certainly a host of other things that can be learned. During those early years of parenting I remember delving heavily into educational theory, literary theory of children's literature, and a whole host of memoirs about people who went to live off the grid in the woods. I think this last category came about because my life suddenly seemed fairly easy in comparison.
The point is, it's good to keep learning things. It keeps your brain active (and if the bulk of your reading recently has been celebrity magazines, it may take a little effort to make that brain work again) and it makes you a more interesting person... both to others and yourself.