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.

Comments

  1. Debbye says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, and I do think is is so important to not define a town completely from one horrific and tragic day. Prayers your way all day. <3
    Debbye’s latest post: 10 Must-Have Bedtime Books for Babies and Toddlers (Just In Time For Christmas!)

  2. Talia says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! Newtown and its people are amazing. Please know we hold you in our thoughts and prayers. We are mourning your loss with you and will help carry the sorrow to lighten your load.

  3. Betsy Z. says:

    Jamie,
    I am praying for you, all of Newton, and especially the families who are grieving the most today. My heart breaks with you.
    Betsy

  4. Kim says:

    Thanks for giving us some insight into this community. We’re all having “what if” moments these last few days and I’m sure yours are all the more gut wrenching. Peace, love and prayers to your community as you all process this tragedy and eventually heal.

  5. Erin Goodman says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this post, Jamie.

    Sending love and prayers to your beautiful community and all of us who mourn with you.

    Love + Light…
    Erin
    Erin Goodman’s latest post: Words that heal

  6. Jen says:

    Beautifully written, as always. Thanks for giving me something uplifting to read today.
    Jen’s latest post: Homeschooling–one month in (part 3)

  7. michelle says:

    Oh dear, I actually thought about you this weekend, recalling that I thought you lived in CT. My husband grew up in the next town, and we still visit the area. It is so true, it is like villages out of a storybook. I am so sorry for your neighbors’ losses and trauma, and also for every parent who has to tell their children about this horror. I can’t imagine how children must feel, growing up with lockdown drills, security guards, metal detectors…. I remember feeling terrified of having tornado drills! My sympathies, Jamie.

  8. vanessa says:

    Beautiful post, thank you.

  9. Heather says:

    Hi, A friend shared your blog with me today. I was so pleased to read it. My grandmother spent the last 20 years of her life in a senior citizen community in Newtown so I have been in the town hundreds of times. When this all happened, I was not only blindsided as a parent of a 7 and 9 year old, but as someone who just adores the community. My family lives a couple of hours from Newtown, but we always felt so comfortable having my grandmother lived there. People knew her and they watched out for her. We LOVE you’re community and we will continue to pray for healing and amazing life lessons to come out of all this hurt.

  10. C.J. says:

    With heartfelt thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing…

  11. Stephanie says:

    Jamie,
    I have been thinking of you guys and of other friends in Newtown. Your words are beautiful, as always, and we too have been looking there specifically to relocate. It is a wonderful place and I hope that the world will continue to support and pray for families, yet leave your town in peace ~ as the community needs its freedom to grieve.
    Stephanie’s latest post: A Perfect Moment ~ New Art

  12. Marilyn says:

    Dear Jamie, Our pastor yesterday challenged our small congregation to write or email the first responders and/or school district in your town, to let them know of our prayers and care. Could you let me know some addresses that we could use? Thanks so much. Your town and neighbors are in our prayers.

  13. Niki Taylor says:

    Thank you Jaimie for sharing your home town – it truely sounds like heaven on Earth. I’m a first grade teacher in a little country called New Zealand and my heart breaks for the families who have been so cruelly hurt and the lives taken so young. I pray for your community to find the strength to move through the coming days, weeks and months and the wisdom to take this terrible event as a season of life. All my love Niki

  14. Kim says:

    Thank you for sharing another side of Newtown. I imagine it is a beautiful town and a beautiful community. My heart breaks for all of you in your town. For all of you whose sense of security has been shaken to the very core. This is absolutely beautiful.
    Kim’s latest post: To my Daughter on her 10th Birthday

  15. Conni Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing your post about Newtown. I can only imagine what it is like to have things shaken so much, and so close. We continue to pray for the community.
    Conni Smith’s latest post: Drunk Moose Meatballs | It’s a #SundaySupper Holiday Event

  16. SueTR says:

    Hi Jamie
    My Uncle lived in Newtown for many years and I loved driving your lovely town on my visits to him. I have the same thoughts as you when I watched (for a very short time) the news reports…this is not the beautiful NE town I had visited. As a mom of twin 11 yo girls, I sent them off to school today with a catch in my throat, and I can’t wait to get them off the bus this afternoon!
    Thoughts and prayers for you and yours
    Sue

  17. Andrea Smith says:

    God bless you. I’m sorry.for the grief that hit your sweet hometown. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Hi Jaimie, I am emailing from Seaford, Victoria, Australia. Please know that even though we are half a world away, we are thinking of everyone affected by this tragedy and hold them close in our hearts and prayers. Our local parish of St.Annes Seaford
    prayed for the community of Newtown and all of the families affected. May God give strength, hope and love to support all of the families and extended community. As an Early Childhood Educator I feel a special bond to the teachers and children and will continue to pray for strength for those impacted by this. A tragedy like this has certainly put Christmas and life into clear perspective. My grandson was given an extra hug and kiss last night as he was tucked into bed. Please know that though the distance may be miles apart you are all close in our thoughts and hearts.

  19. Andrea says:

    I am praying for all of you grieving in your town. And no, we would never think badly of your little town. Evil is everywhere and doesn’t stay outside even the most picturesque of places. In fact, sadly it is often in the places in between the city and wilderness, that these tragedies take place

  20. Kelly says:

    Jamie,

    I would never have wanted you to be the one to write about what happened in Newtown from the vantage point of someone who lives, learns and loves there – but I am so, so thankful that it is your voice and your heart sharing these words with us. Your eloquence and generosity of spirit here at Simple Homeschool has been inspirational in my mothering and educating, and it’s your steadfast boldness with which you’ve shared your life that you bring to sharing about this horrific tragedy as well – sharing not only as someone praying and mourning but also as someone who is a part of the fabric of community that has been torn apart by this hideousness.

    Jesus came to overcome the world, and I praise Him that even though man may be able to hurt our vulnerable bodies, NO MAN can destroy our souls. We are His children and in His hand are we eternally held.

    Thank you, again, for sharing these words, Jamie, and joining with so many who are praying for the entire town, especially the families and loved ones of these precious lives who have have ascended to Heaven.

  21. Lauren says:

    Thank you for reminding us all of the other perspectives possible, and for publishing a picture with the names of two of the victims. We do not need to glorify the perpetrator with any more attention, it’s the victims and helpers who need and deserve it.

  22. Alison Treat says:

    Thank you for writing this. This is close to home for us as we live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I spent the first seven years of my life in Stamford, CT and my husband lived in Newtown for a short time during his college years. He describes it as very similar to the area where we live now. So sad that it is known by most of the country for this horrific tragedy. We will remember it as the town you describe instead. Praying for your whole community, especially those who lost little children.

  23. Tami says:

    Jamie, I grew up next door in Southbury and I know how idyllic this part of the world is for kids. The past few days have been brutal, haven’t they? But, with time, we’ll see that the community’s strength endures. Peace.

  24. Leslie says:

    Thank you, thank you thank you for this post! As I live nowhere near Newtown, I am one of those who had never heard of it until this terrible tragedy. As a Mama to two young children, I have had a very hard time stomaching what has happened. Every time I watch the news or talk of it with others, I get very emotional because I cannot stop thinking about the parents who have in essence lost their hearts. I have been following your blog for a few years now and draw lots of inspiration from it. I am especially touched at your bravery to talk so openly about your living in Newtown. This is a tragedy that has touched parents across the country. Thank you again for this post. Your community has touched my heart and is in my thoughts and prayers.
    Leslie’s latest post: Holiday Season Kick-Off

  25. Jami says:

    Your blog encouraged me to do what God was calling me to do even if I had to “do it afraid.” You’ve been a source of encouragement for me over and over again in the last ten weeks of my short homeschooling journey. I credit you to helping me get the courage I needed to actually follow through and to homeschool. Thank you! Today I am ever more convinced that I am on the right path.
    And now I am praying for you and for each and every neighbor of Newtown, CT as you grieve and mourn as a “family.” As you learn to pick up the pieces and turn tragedy into triumph. As it sounds this will be something that happens for your hometown. What a great, great place you call home!

  26. Sherrie Mullane says:

    Our hearts and prayers are with you and your community. From Union, KY

  27. Kate Jerdan says:

    I was born in Danbury and lived in Newtown till I was five years old. Six of my siblings grew up on our farm on Brushy Hill, thus I feel a kinship to Newtown folks. My sister now lives in Larchmont, NY and my brothers live here and there throughout the US. I know names of two families that my family knew: Manz and my cousin Charlie Haden who would be about 65 years old. When my aunt and uncle, Elizabeth & David Haden, died years ago, we lost touch with their children. I have memories of Mrs. Manz heating water so Mama could bathe me in a big sink in her kitchen…I suppose I was about three years old. My heart is so heavy for you folks. I wish I could remember more of Newtown. Love to all of you.

  28. Fatima says:

    Thank you for your beautiful post. I live in the UK, and I will be praying for your community that in the darkness, God will shine His light, and bring His comfort and His peace.
    Fatima’s latest post: Being still when life is busy

  29. Faye says:

    Jamie, thank you for this so sensitive post. Though a first-time reader, I can feel your love for your town and its people! Keep the light glowing!
    Remember that you people are in our prayers, and that God is the same distance from there is He is to here in our hometown. He loves us all, and He’s grieving along with you.

  30. we live in a small island community & your description reminds me much of it – people all around the country and all around the world are praying for your community – God bless. Thanks for sharing.
    kelli-AdventurezInChildRearing’s latest post: Chess is Child’s Play – Review and Giveaway

  31. Jenni says:

    Thank you Jamie for sharing openly about your location and the beauty of your community. I would have had no idea of how it is being from Texas, living in Portugal now, and we’ve chosen to not view the news of the event to keep our minds at peace. What a gift to live in such a wonderful town, and I believe its greatness will not be swallowed up by this attack. ALL things will turn for good–redemption is coming for Newtown.
    Jenni’s latest post: Yarn Balls and Ornaments Wreath

  32. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing your view of what sounds like a beautiful place to live. The tragedy that happened last week is beyond comprehension. I am so sad for all those involved. I will continue to pray for the families and community of Newtown, CT.

  33. Sarah Jane says:

    Peace to you, your family and your community. God bless.
    Sarah Jane’s latest post: joy! :: day 17

  34. Antionette Robinson says:

    Thank you, not only for this post, but for being a great encourager for homeschooling moms. I can’t tell you how many times you have been a source of strength and encouragement to me in the first year of homeschooling. I am so sorry that this tragedy has struck such a beautiful place, the place you call home. I am praying with you for your community. God will shine through the darkness…

  35. Jen G says:

    I have read you blogs for some time. And I can relate to your privacy concern… as I try to be just as protective of my location as well. But thank you for sharing. It must of been hard after years of not telling anyone where you are. I pray for your town. But I also pray that you still feel the security that may be lost right now… and also for all in Newtown. God bless!
    Jen G’s latest post: Home School 4 Free ~ Homeschool FreeBEE Friday 12/14/12 Link Up

  36. Tracey says:

    Oh Jamie, I am so glad you are living in Newtown and can share these insights with us. I know you were taken there for such a time as this. Many blessings as your town grieves, we are praying for this to be as gentle as possible and for peace to be restored.
    Tracey’s latest post: Nicholas Adam Sprovtsoff, Semper Fi

  37. Anna says:

    Thank you for the beautiful words. My heart is broken with grief and sadness.

  38. Janine Dinkelmann says:

    I am a year 2 teacher as well as a mother on the Gold Coast in Australia. Thank you for painting a different picture to what we have experienced so far through the news. I will just keep on praying that God’s comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding will stay with everyone in your beautiful town. We just have to trust God that He will work this for His good, because we love Him.

  39. Bethany B. says:

    Thank you. I currently live in Texas, but my Aunt lives in Newtown and my cousins all grew up there (My mom was from Bethel and we also spent quite a bit of time there when I was younger). I remember it fondly and enjoyed every second I spent there. My heart breaks for the families of those lost, the first responders and for the people of Newtown who are now left to pick up the pieces and deal with this tragedy happening in their own backyard. Hugs to you and your sweet family.

  40. Amber says:

    simply beautiful … thank you

  41. Jill Robson says:

    Thankyou for sharing your story. We are heart broken right along with all of you in Newton, but we have the privilege of tucking our children safe in our arms and in their beds. Please extend our sympathies to all the parents, siblings, spouses, of the beautiful and brave souls who lost their right to have a full and happy life.
    I have mourned many family member’s but never a child or spouse, it’s unimaginable.
    Love and deepest sympathies. ON Canada.

  42. Emmie says:

    I just want to say thank you for sharing this. It helps so much to put it into a real context. I am sure that you are light to those around you. We are praying and sending so much love to Newtown.
    Emmie’s latest post: Third Purple Candle

  43. Janet says:

    Thank you for sharing the Newtown you live in and those of us in CT know as idyllic and safe-feeling. It’s one of those places about which people say they can’t imagine it happening here. I live near Bradley International and grew up here. When I was in school, when my now adult children were in school, there were no security police, no lockdowns, we felt safe, as all of your town did until Friday. You’ve all been in my prayers and will continue to be, I can’t begin to imagine….
    With His Love,
    Janet

  44. Thank you Jaime for this beautiful tribute to your town and community! It sounds like such a lovely place — I really appreciate seeing your perspective! My thoughts are with you all!
    Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings’s latest post: Play With Your Food: Hot Dog Noodles

  45. I grew up next door in Oxford and attended Chase in Waterbury. Many of my classmates were (are) from Newtown and I spent many days romping around the town, trying to avoid that flagpole while learning to drive, and otherwise spending time as a carefree youth. Despite having left when I was 18, Connecticut will always be my true home and it breaks my heart to see it hurting so.
    Maureen @ Wisconsin Mommy’s latest post: Family Den Helps You Run Your Family (plus a Giveaway!)

  46. Melodie says:

    Your town is beautiful. I have been avoiding the news and cannot even read the blurbs I see on the internet. It hurts too much. I don’t need to see the faces of the children and know their names to grieve for the families. Media is a remarkable thing but I prefer the happy stories to the sad ones. I was so pleased to see this. I have turned to public school after two years of homeschooling this year. Hearing about Newtown’s tragedy spooked me into wanting to homeschool again, but it would not be for the right reasons. Thank you for this post and I do send prayers to all the families for a tragedy I can’t bear.
    Melodie’s latest post: The Night My 7 Year Old Made Dinner

  47. Mindy says:

    I have heard many people say, “We never thought it could happen here”. Watching the footage, reading your post, I CAN imagine it happening here where I live. Our town, like yours, is one of those Anytown, USA communities. And our community churches have been praying for you all. Praying for light to come from the dark and for God to bring good from tragedy. Please know we grieve with you and pray for Hope and Peace to be restored once again.

  48. I was just recently thinking “I wonder if there were homeschoolers in Newtown? It seems the schools are so great that even homeschooling inclined families wouldn’t mind sending their kids there…” Thank you for giving us this glimpse on Newtown from the perspective of a homeschooling family. It sounds like an ideal place to live and raise children. It’s just heartbreaking how it all played out.
    Anastasia @ eco-babyz’s latest post: Cultivating Their Inner World

  49. JennyW-K says:

    Beautiful post.

  50. pam says:

    Jamie, thank you for your heartfelt post at such a difficult time. To the contrary of what some might think I am one of those who thought Newtown looks like a place I would love to live. We have been searching for an area in CT to relocate to for awhile and Newtown was never on our radar. I had not heard of it. After seeing how your town came together, and the love and support I can see why you love where you live. I am homeschooling my son this year and I am so happy I found your blog. I have to admit I have have had both negative and positive reactions when I tell others we are homeschooling him ( I did not homeschool my three older kids.) It’s good to know there are places that are accepting of other parent’s choices. My thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this unimaginable tragedy.