My husband had family here on the Cape, and we decided to settle in Mashpee. My sister-in-law had been living here for a while and was very, very happy—she really convinced us to move down here. My husband worked in Boston at the time and I was working in Hopkinton, so the two of us did this commute on a daily basis. While you’re commuting back and forth, I don’t think you ever get invested in your community. We were leaving home when it was dark and coming home when it was dark. But once we had our two children, I think that was the stabilizer. When you have children, you no longer live for yourself—you live for your children, and that’s when you start becoming interested in what’s around you. When you’re pregnant, you realize, “Wow, there really are more pregnant people in the world. Everybody in the world seems to be driving a Volvo.” Your eyes become more open to those things, and you discover that there’s a children’s museum here on Cape Cod, even though you never knew it existed before.
The Dartmouth Children’s Museum, which was between New Bedford and Fall River, was the inspiration for this place. There was nothing else like it—there is no other children’s museum within an hour radius of where we’re located. The next closest ones would be in Providence or Boston. This group of moms, who were primarily from the Falmouth area, were traveling to Dartmouth—almost an hour away—to find something to do with their children. I think they were looking for a lot of the same things the moms and children like today when they come to our children’s museum: It’s an opportunity to unplug, to spend some time together. And everybody gets something out of it.
The museum started in 1990 and I think it was open for six months in one location in Falmouth before it was such a great success that they needed a larger space. Then when the Wal-Mart plaza came, they were displaced. This building is actually owned by Mashpee Commons, and in 2000, the children’s museum opened up here. There’s a lot of generosity in this town.
Back in 2003, I was on a leave of absence from my position as an English teacher in Hopkinton and started coming here for classes with both of my little ones. Because I had the time, I was volunteering. That was really the first step: I loved what the museum did, didn’t realize it existed, hundreds of others didn’t realize it existed, and with a small group of other moms, we realized we needed to spread the word about this place.
When I first joined the children’s museum and became involved, what resonated was that my children were getting a socialized experience and an educational experience, but I was getting something too. I was meeting up with other moms who were looking for some connection.