Three years ago, when the moving trucks pulled up to our house here in Pittsburgh, I had no idea who the people were inside the other houses on our street.
I, of course, hoped they would be good neighbors, but I never could have imagined they would all become like family.
Street-wide backyard BBQs.
Driveway lawn-chair chats on summer nights.
Fire pits where any kid in the neighborhood could come get a S’more.
It wasn’t long before we realized we had hit the neighborhood jackpot and gained a whole other family.
But when March 2020 hit, I realized that all the ways we connected leading up to that time would pale in comparison to the network of support we were about to be for each other.
The group-text support to the mom who had been pushed to the edge trying to balance her job while helping her children with remote learning.
Videos of dads taking turns hilariously dressing up like book characters for story time to help each other fill the gaps of at-home learning.
Fun outdoor activities coordinated by one of the moms to help give the kids the end-of-the-school-year celebration they deserved.
Food dropped off at each other’s doors to help take one less brick off an overwhelmingly heavy day of supporting our kids through a tough mental health day.
I truly don’t know what I would have done without them this year.
Because their support? It domino-ed down to my kids. When I had nothing left, they shared some of their energy with me. When I had run out of ideas, they stepped in with new ones. When I needed to cry, their phones were always turned on.
They refueled me to be able to continue to be the pillar of support I needed to be for my kids. And for that, I will forever be grateful.
Because while I have always known that the family life we create for our kids within our own four walls plays a crucial role in their development the way it did for me, this year I was reminded that the extended network of support that circles around them is just as important. The group of loving, caring adults that make up a child’s village from immediate family, to grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, teachers, coaches and more…
We ALL play a role. We all have a shared responsibility to create a network of support around these kids as they continue to navigate this year of massive change.
And I am so grateful for the pipeline of extended family with whom I share a street for playing the role they did for us.
And if they’re saying it’s going to take a village to get our kids back on track from the “tsunami” of change they’ve endured … we need to continue to build a strong circle outside of our walls, so our kids know they will be supported even when they step out of them.
The Tomorrow – powered by Remake Learning podcast features the leading thinkers, practitioners, and experts navigating the future of learning. In this week’s latest podcast (which inspired today’s blog post), hosts Ryan Rydzewski and Gregg Behr speak with Heather Weiss about how family engagement plays a critical role in a child’s education. To listen in and get thinking about what we as parents and educators – and the pipeline of support for today’s kids – can do today to make tomorrow a more promising place for every learner, visit https://bit.ly/TMRpod.