On an island, named Jamaica, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, there lived a little girl. One day, she set off over land and water on an adventure. When her travels brought her to the edge of the United States, she sat down and thought, maybe this is where she should stay. That little girl was me.
Just then a strong breeze came by and blew me further north. Eventually I landed in Princeton, New Jersey. By the time I was 24 I was the mother of 2 children under the age of 3. My husband, a physician, was away a lot, working and studying for his PhD at Harvard School of Public Health.
We bought the house we could afford. In time, it became the backdrop of a thousand special moments, but at the outset, it was what my friend called "a dawg". Renovating a house in a new town, while caring for two young children made this period intense.
That house eventually became a home where we hosted frequent dance parties, sometimes with live music, and the 50th wedding anniversary of my in-laws. Summers were filled with extended family and fireflies twinkling in our wooded backyard. Winters were made bearable by deer and feathered friends who sought water from our babbling brook, which never seemed to freeze. In the autumn, flocks of turkey vultures descended on us and blackbirds darkened the sky.
In Princeton, I stepped giddily into adulthood and motherhood. I ran a household, built community, completed my masters, explored activism and art.
When our son was having challenges in school, I stumbled on an article in The Atlantic magazine by David Guterson (author of Snow Falling on Cedars) about his family's decision to homeschool their 3 children. His description captivated my imagination. I had never heard of the concept.
It was mid August, school was to start in less than 2 weeks. The school buses came, however, our children were not on them. They did not return to a formal classroom until 5 years later. More on homeschooling in other posts!
The friends that I made in Princeton were raucous, fun, and in many instances, connected to the university. They held me up in those wondrous, challenging years, and, although many of us have left the town, these old friends continue to hold me today.
There's nothing like a life changing diagnosis to put you into a state of deep reflection: colorectal cancer. After 2 years of grueling (but successful!) treatments, I found myself in remission. I was torn between staying at the Princeton Public Library where I'd worked as a children's librarian for nearly 30 years, or pursuing a dream.
I wrote my business plan for Baby Wordplay from the living room couch, while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. These theaters-come-bookstores embedded me in a community of families in a new way, in a new city.
In 2021, in response to the pandemic, I launched the Small Talk Baby Podcast- the first podcast designed to help parents interact with their babies around language. My daughter and my grandson, born in October 2020, were the first listeners. I love to sing, read aloud, recite poetry, share stories, make learning fun, silly and sappy. The podcast has been the perfect platform for me to connect with families around the world.
It has been downloaded over half a million times. There are currently 117 episodes with new episodes published monthly.