Newtown as I know it

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and writer at Steady Mom

I never intended to write about my current location here, or in any online space. I crave privacy and am tiger-mother fierce about protecting that of my kids. But when you see the town in which you live and love plastered across national and international news, the time has come to open up.

I make my home in Newtown, Connecticut–scene of last week’s 2nd deadliest school shooting in US history. If we had not chosen to homeschool, all three of my babes would have walked through the doors of Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday morning.

Who knows if all three would have come home again.

This tragedy hits close, shockingly close, to our home. Within walking distance families currently nurse a private grief that I find unimaginable.

What disturbs me, though, is that most of you are hearing about Newtown for the first time. Please know that there is another side than the sheer horror of what you’ve seen.

There’s the truth–what life is really like here. And though we’ve only lived in this town for a year and a half, this place will be part of our family’s heart, and history, forever.

This is Newtown as I know it:

I fell in love with this small town over two years ago. My kids attended a week-long summer camp here. After dropping them off I would wander–finding a place to write or take a walk–until time to pick them up again. Driving these country roads birthed a new dream for my family–a different type of life that would include fields and farms, refuge and freedom.

A safe place for my children to love, learn, and grow.

It has been that–and much more. You could say that Newtown was the answer to our prayers.

A stereotype holds that New Englanders keep their distance, but this community welcomed us warmly.

After Hurricane Sandy, when we lost power for four days, neighbors on both sides called and visited–inviting us to shower at their house, sleep on their floors, and borrow their camping stoves.

My children roam freely and play loudly for hours everyday outside our house. Once I noticed Elijah laying on the grass for several minutes, gazing at the sky.

“Watching hawks,” he said, when asked what captured his attention. I’ll always remember that moment. It struck me as exactly what a child should have the time and space for.

And it happened here. Newtown–a remarkable place to raise kids.

Though not exactly your typical family, I have never encountered even one rude look, glance, or comment about our uniqueness and diversity.

When checking out dozens of books recently, the librarian looked up at me with a warm smile and kindly said, “You must homeschool.” She went on to tell me of her positive experiences with other homeschooling families in the area.

Once my kids ran out to eagerly greet the oil man who had arrived to fill our tank. I walked out also, and he spoke up.

“Your son said you homeschool?”

As I answered yes, I wondered what would come next. But instead of questioning the validity of our educational choice, he opened up in my front yard about the learning struggles of his son. Turns out he and his wife had wondered about homeschooling themselves. He left that day with one of my cards for this blog, and an invitation to email me with any questions.

Our experience has shown us that Newtowners live and work with passion. I’ve been genuinely surprised to find that almost anyone hired to come to our house–from exterminators, to chimney sweeps, to tree choppers–exudes an excitement for their chosen line of work. My kids have come away thinking that “loving your job” is just what folks do.

Like I said, there’s something special here. A spark. Please remember that as you watch footage of terrified children running from classrooms and of lives irrevocably changed. That spark may be dim with sorrow, but it has not been extinguished in this courageous community.

Continue to send your prayers this direction. Not for us, who still have the privilege of tucking our little ones in tonight–but for those down the street and around the corner with empty beds and shattered hearts.

As for me, I will wake up tomorrow morning, look out the window at the field in the back, then do what I always do–thank God for sending us here. I will change my mind’s channel when images of horror and violence play on its screen, and replace it with images of what I know to be true about this beautiful community.

Treasured and cherished safely in my memory remains forever Newtown…as I know it.

Now you know it, too.

Further reading & resources:

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.” ~ C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Comments now closed. Thank you for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.


  1. Thank you for sharing. Peace and healing to all touched by this tragedy.
    Jules’s latest post: the flood

  2. Thank you for sharing your Newtown – you are right, we do get a very distorted view from the media. Praying.

  3. Deb Wostmann says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this horrible time for you community. I can’t imagine the grief and sorrow you all are feeling. Please know that you have a nation there for you and that the light of all your precious angels will shine forever in our hearts.

  4. You, your family and your community are in my thoughts.

  5. this is beautiful, Jamie. Thank you for honoring your town with this piece.

  6. Beautifully written. Praying for your community. It sounds lovely.

  7. Thank you for sharing. Our family will continue to pray for the families, for your town, for peace and understanding, and hope for healing. You know God brought you and your family there, in His timing, & He will use you in this. We will pray for that also.

  8. Please know that our hearts here in Mississippi are broken for all of you in Connecticut who are suffering such tragic loss. I am praying for you.

  9. Thank you for sharing. Our prayers go your way. I’ve gone through my days since this happened and then a sick, sadness comes upon me and then, yes, this immense tragedy comes like a giant wave to envelope me in its shock and horror. My children are grown and my grandchildren are healthy and I thank God every day for my blessings.

  10. Praying for your community.
    Myah’s latest post: I’m out of memory… but here’s a glimpse of our December!

  11. My heart breaks for all of our children, and for my teacher husband today as he goes into his classroom to do what he loves to do everyday, but today with a terrible sense of grief. Thank you for writing about your town. May God bless all of you with peace and comfort in these days. The light always overcomes the darkness.
    LisaZ’s latest post: I broke up with Facebook for Advent

  12. I’ve known of Newton for a long time now, in 4th or 5th grade my best friend moved to Newton, I haven’t been able to find her since growing up as we lost contact. From the letters and pictures I received I imagine a beautiful little town, one I would gladly visit. Thank you for sharing and I’m thankful that your little ones are safe at home.

  13. Oh Jamie, I had no idea. I’m sending thoughts of love and healing to your bereaved community. So many people, all over the world, feel the loss and sadness too; you are all in our thoughts.
    Emmalina’s latest post: No Words

  14. Our dear friends lost two boys in a boating accident this past summer. Our prayers, love and thoughts are with your community and those you have lost a loved one. May you all find comfort in His love during this very hard time.

  15. Kathleen Langridge says:

    Thank you for sharing your town with us. A place of peace, beauty, where all are welcomed. Though I now live in Latvia, Portland,. Oregon is my hometown. This too has been shattered by random violence just the day before yours. I don’t pretend to have answers but I do cling to the One who does. You are part of His restoration work in Newtown. May you know His blessing.

  16. Thank you for sharing about your hometown! We all know that your town was more than the tragedy that happened there…but it’s good to hear about it! It sounds like the spirit there will tend towards healing and care. I know I speak for many mothers across this nation…we wish we could take you all in our arms and give comfort…even those of you who did not lose someone for you will need to be strong for your neighbor who did.

  17. Praying for you all in California…

  18. A beautiful reflection amidst such tragedy. Prayers for you all.
    Southern Gal’s latest post: Multitude Monday

  19. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Thanks Tsh for recommending I read this post. Hug those kids tight and God Bless you, your family and your neighbors.

  20. Wow, so close to home. Praying for your whole community….

  21. We used to live in a little town referred to by it’s residents as “Pleasantville” . The only time it made the news was during the anthrax scare post 9/11. Thank you for your wise words. (((HUGS)))

  22. Thank you for writing this. I needed this change in perspective, what a great town to live in! I am praying for your community.

  23. Thank you for sharing your perspective. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in your town, and especially the family members who have lost a precious loved one, whether an adult, or one of the beautiful little children. We cannot imagine the loss, but our hearts are with you.

  24. Thank you Jamie for your beautiful post.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing Jamie. Our thoughts and prayers are with your community.

  26. Dede@DesignedDecor says:

    Beautifully written! It is a shame that most home towns are only ever talked about for the bad or a tragedy. It is the wonderful people that make a hometown what they are. I know in my heart that your town is no different than all the many other hometowns out there, made up of good, kind, loving people. I pray for strength and healing for all those in your town and more. Many prayers!

    Dede@DesignedDecor’s latest post: Go Visit a Birthday Bash!

  27. I’m sorry. That’s all I can say.

  28. Thank you so much for sharing this story about your community. Please know that we are praying for all of you. My heart is broken. I wish I could do something, anything to help ease the pain.

  29. Thanks for your perspective. This is beautiful.

  30. Thank you so much for a beautiful post! May God grant you His peace and wisdom as you minister to your friends and loved ones in your special town!

  31. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your community. praying for healing, stength and peace that passes understanding to flow from the Father. praying for His hand to be seen and comfort felt through the pain.

  32. Thank you for your observations on your new hometown. I have been to Conn. and I have found it to be the lovliest state I ever visited. This horrible tradgedy does not diminish this special town – the one you chose for your family. I will continue to put your friends and neighbors in my prayers.

  33. Thank you for sharing about the Newtown that you know and love. During this difficult time, please know that we are holding up all those affected by this tragedy in prayer.

  34. I’m so sorry for you and your community. This has hit home to us too, in Milford, OH. We see ourselves in your community and know it could have been us. I had just left my boys’ school just a 5 minute drive down the road, if stopped by the traffic light when I heard the news. Thank you for sharing what a beautiful place Newton is and will be, just a little closer, a little more aware as the rest of our country is. As our principal said in a letter about continuing to work on safe guards for the school’s security, “…through knowledge and preparation they are empowered…”. Let’s pray it ends here.

  35. My heart is grieving with you all in Newtown. The start of another school day hit me especially hard today, and I cried as I dropped my 3 big kids off this morning. We used to homeschool, and I won’t lie, I missed the safety of it this morning. Thanks for sharing your perspective on your town. It sounds like a wonderful place, and still IS a wonderful place, despite the tragedy. Many prayers for peace and comfort this morning for all families affected.
    Jen in MN’s latest post: brave

  36. Thank you, Jaimie. Wishing I could say something profound — we all are so sad for your community and will do anything we can to support you.
    Melissa Taylor’s latest post: Put On Your Oxygen Mask First

  37. What a heartfelt post – and one that had me in tears the moment you said your children ‘could’ have been in one of those classrooms had they not been home in your care learning. I pray the peace that was once surrounding your town return and create an even more closely knit community. Thank you so much for sharing….
    Susan’s latest post: Weekly Household Quick Tip

  38. I’m so sorry that your beautiful town had to experience this horror.

  39. Thank you for this perspective. Hugs!!

  40. Thank you for this post. I haven’t been watching or reading much about this story in the news because my heart simply can’t take it and, as a former anxiety sufferer with a very vivid imagination, I have to be careful about what I let in. I very much appreciate reading your story and perspective on this. I’m glad to have come to your site and look forward to reading your e-book. Thank you for the work you do and for sharing your heart today.
    Tabitha’s latest post: Starting a blog in 2013?

  41. Thank you for this post, it was beautiful. I’m praying for you and all of those around you today.

  42. Thank you for sharing your beautiful town with us – what a lovely place for the little children whose lives were so brief, to have grown up – God’s gift of earthly beauty. We have been praying for the dear families who lost someone, and for the love of Christ to shine through His people there, that in His own mysterious way, He will redeem the suffering.

  43. Thank you for giving us a fuller view of your town. I pray that comfort and His steadfast love will be felt in there.

  44. You will find that while people will remember your town as the place where a horrific shooting occurred, they will also remember the remarkable stories of love and heroic acts that are shared when something like this happens. I am an employee at Virginia Tech, and while our fairly peaceful campus will forever be different (there are every day reminders as simple as new doors that were put on our building entrances that cannot be chained shut), there were so many lives that were positively touched by what we had to go through. Prayers for your community and the healing process.

  45. Puyallup, Washington is praying for your community. Thank you for sharing, we are all in this together~

  46. Your town is beautiful. May you all find limitless peace and healing there. We are all sending you so much love. Thank you for this post.

  47. I loved reading about your town, Jamie. Tears in my eyes as I pray for those around you who have experienced such heartbreak.
    Nicole’s latest post: our home

  48. Miranda Pacchiana says:

    You have captured the essence of our community with your elegant words and poignant pictures. Thank you, Jamie!

  49. Your entire town and community has my thoughts. We are all shocked by the lack of the ability to “do” anything to help. How do you help a parent or family who has lost an irreplaceable treasure?

    I am glad that the town is so close, though. I hope that this helps the victims’ loved ones to find peace sooner rather than later…
    tracey’s latest post: New Traditions…

  50. Jamie,
    I thought of you when I first heard of the news. I remember talking about being from Connecticut when we met at Allume, it was nice to meet someone from my home state. I am still sitting here in shock. We will be driving past Newtown when we head up to visit family for Christmas and I know it will be heartbreaking just driving past. New England is beautiful, Connecticut is a wonderful place to raise a family and I often miss living there. Thank you so much for sharing a picture of the beautiful life that the children who were lost enjoyed. We’re praying for you and the whole community in Connecticut. Thank you so much for this post!
    Donna S’s latest post: Clean Your Hair With Baking Soda and Vinegar – Confessional