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After my last post about a Jewish man who had established an orphanage in Nazi Germany, I realized that in the last couple of years I have frequently written about children, especially those who are struggling. For a person with no children, that seemed (to me) to be an odd choice: what did I know about children? In many respects, very little. So, I decided to reflect on my reasons for writing about children, particularly in the area of education, and see if I had something new to learn about life and the world around me.
I grew up in a family of three children. Oddly, none of us have had children, by choice. At the time we made our choice, my husband said he would support my choice either way; he already had one daughter by his first marriage. I decided for my own selfish reasons not to have kids: I believed that I couldn’t “do it all” (and still believe that) and I lived at a time when women were celebrated for working; I couldn’t imagine “only” raising children (an incredibly narrow and naïve view); and I was terrified that I would be like my own mother (who struggled at motherhood)—I realized years later that she could have done much, much worse.
There was nothing original about my excuses—and they were excuses, even irrational ones. But for many years I didn’t regret that choice. When friends asked me about our decision (and they always asked without obvious judgment), wondering if I felt I was missing anything, I said that I was. But I also pointed out that parents were missing something by having kids. Part of that is the intimacy that comes with a husband and wife only needing to focus on each other. Selfish, yes, but that’s how I saw my life back then.
In the last few years, though, I’ve found myself come to appreciate children much more. Certainly, I recognize that children are our future, but my connection seems less idealistic and more personal. It occurred to me today that this timeline coincides with my relationships with the @iwe family. The children are an amazing assortment of personalities, intellect, curiosity, and joy. I realized from the start how much I enjoyed being around them. Although I see them infrequently, I so enjoy watching how they have grown, how I can relate as an adult with the older children, have delightful conversations with the middle children, and simply immerse myself in the energy of the youngest of them.
On Ricochet I love hearing stories about others’ children: how you wrestle with their issues, how you love and support them. I think I’m not envious because I don’t believe in regrets, but rather choose to look forward. So, I see many of you as parents whose lives I can endorse and encourage, because you and your children are the ones who will help others to learn how to live a meaningful life.
My husband and I also have committed funds to the Hillsdale College programs for children. I look around me at the children who are probably much more resilient than I think they are, but who have been brow-beaten and manipulated by our current education system. Hillsdale has new materials they are developing to lift our children out of the miasma of radical thinking into the sunshine of critical thinking, learning about our history and encouraging children to question and engage.
But I realize I have wandered into the intellectual, perhaps to avoid the more personal assessment of why I write about children.
I feel deeply connected to them.
Even when I cringe at their raucous behavior at times, because I am so conditioned to silence, I still share much with them. My child-like love of learning, of exploring, or seeing where life and study will take me is stronger than ever. I share that with children. I want to encourage that mindset, that enthusiasm and appetite for understanding and embracing truth. In fact, I’m wondering if there’s something I might look into that can contribute more to the life of children.
I think life is shifting for me—I’m not quite sure what that means right now.
But I’m excited about exploring the possibilities.
[photo courtesy of unsplash.com]Published in