Once upon a time there was a little girl who wanted to learn how to play the guitar.
She took lessons. She got pretty good, and she sang good too. A good combination for folk guitar.
When she was in college, guitar and singing were always a good way to meet new people in the dorm. During the summers, she worked in day camps, where guitar and kids' songs were a natural combination.
But then she grew up and put away those childish things. She got married and had babies and worked in the exciting but decidedly unmusical world of newspapers.
Funny thing about babies. They love music. Her babies went to Gymboree, where music and play were combined to make a fun time for all.
After her second baby was born, she figured out that she could work part-time at the paper and put her music skills to work by working part-time at Gymboree as well.
She was a popular teacher because she brought her guitar and a lot of energy to the musical part of the program.
She was also a popular mommy because she brought her guitar and her goofy songs and a lot of energy into her children's preschool classes.
Eventually, she had to make a decision between full-time newspapering and the satisfying but low-paying world of Gymboree. You can probably guess which one was the winner.
But the desire and the drive never went away. All through her children's school careers, she would sidle up to their teachers and say in a low voice:
"I play guitar. Can I come in and do music with the children?"
Teachers jumped up and down with delight -- and her musical career continued.
Marriage, divorce, remarriage, new baby, unpleasant ending to a marriage.
Money was tight, and preschool for the baby was expensive. So the mommy negotiated a deal with the director for a tuition break if she did a music class once a week for the whole school.
She loved sitting on the floor with the children, singing about the wheels on the bus and the ABCs and Tingalayo the wacky donkey and even about where you might put raviolis.
When the baby started kindergarten, she stayed at the preschool for actual dollars for another year ... and, of course, added the baby's kindergarten class to her schedule.
And then first grade.
And then second.
She taught those children every goofy (and curriculum-based) song she knew. They sang "It's a Small World" in 12 languages, including sign. She recorded each child, accompanied by her guitar, singing a special song for his or her mother for Mother's Day.
She was the cool music mommy.
Eventually, the school got a "real" music teacher, and the playtime she provided interfered with the pressures of the upper grades.
But the musical yearnings remained. As did the goofy songs.
Today, the "baby" is in eighth grade -- many years from those circle-time days.
And the mommy finds herself at a career crossroads.
Newspapers are a dinosaur in this internet-driven, technologically explosive age.
But music and preschoolers? A combination that will never die.
So this afternoon, the music mommy will return to the baby's preschool and talk to the director about a return engagement.
And possibly some referrals to other preschools.
And maybe, just maybe, an introduction to a renewed life.