This week I’m going back to the beginning, to the very first book I ever received as a mother. The plus sign on the pregnancy stick had barely even registered when Owl Babies by Martin Waddell arrived. The inscription read “To the tiny one from Marilyn, March 6, 1998.” Marilyn, best friend to my mom and honorary aunt to me, was an expert on all things baby and child. Even after spending an entire day with small children at the daycare she’d run in her home for years, she’d make a beeline for any baby in the room. She spoke their language.
Owl Babies tells a simple story—sometimes Mom leaves, but she always comes back. The cross-hatched illustrations by Patrick Benson perfectly capture the mood of the story, especially the ecstatic reunion between the owlets and their mother, home from a night of hunting. Marilyn must have read this story countless times over the years to reassure children that, just like Sarah and Percy and Bill, their mothers would come for them.
Marilyn passed away five years ago after a long and brave battle with cancer. I’m grateful for everything she taught me about taking care of children and helping them realize just how strong they are. I’m grateful that she was able to meet Lily who, adjusting to her new life with us and wary of strangers, put her nose right up to Marilyn’s, looked in her eyes, and recognized a kindred spirit. And I’m grateful for this book and the memories that come with it.