To my child’s early childhood educator,
I have known the saying “it takes a village” for as long as I can remember. And yet, in the busyness and rush of my world, with parenting three littlies, juggling work responsibilities, different physical mental health challenges in our family, and just trying to stay afloat, I’m not sure I’ve really understood the reality of this saying. I just haven’t stopped, until this pandemic hit, shifting my work responsibilities, and it has kind of forced me to.
You see, I like to think I’ve got it all together. I like to think I can keep pushing forward and keep doing everything I can to be the best parent I can be. That I can fill any “gaps” in my child’s development and be that “superwoman” who doesn’t need sleep (just lots of coffee) because “I’ve got this” and I’ve got everyone else around me, most importantly my children. I haven’t wanted to acknowledge my limitations, until this pandemic, and having to do life differently has kind of forced me to.
I have always felt the overwhelming pressures of “getting this parenting gig right”- saying the right things, providing the right experiences, serving the right foods etc. Being the raging idealist that I am, over the last 9 years of striving for perfection in my parenting, and failing miserably in this impossible pursuit, I now am beginning to see things differently.
You see, I now truly get it. I’m not superwoman and in fact I don’t need to be. I have a “village” and I must share honestly that a part from family and close friends, one of the most powerful members of MY village has been the people who provide that safe place for my children everyday.
To my child’s educators, YOU are some of the most significant people in my village….
- You have been there when I’ve had the worst morning and have barely made it on time and all in one piece, to hold out welcoming arms, being the calm in the storm that has been the morning rush!
- You have been there to provide advice when I’ve been at a loss at how to support my child’s journey with their different fears and worries.
- You have been there to listen to me as I’ve doubted myself over and over and over again, reassuring me that I am doing a great job.
- You have been there when work has called and I have a deadline to meet and you’ve worked your magic to be able to fit my child in for an additional day where I know they are safe and happy.
- You have been there to support my child in their development and journey, helping connect them with peers, with different learning experiences, and with their identity as a valued member of a community.
- You have been there, playing a key role alongside our family, to explicitly role model to our children what it is to be kind, compassionate, resilient, patient, honest and to live with integrity.
To my child’s early childhood educators, YOU are some of the most important people in my child’s life and because of you and the work you do, my superhero cape can retire. With what you do, I am learning to lean into the beauty and power of what it is to have “a village”. Whilst this pandemic has brought with it loss, it has also been a catalyst for a shift in my perspective (as life has changed), that as human beings we NEED each other. As parents, we NEED a village around our children to not only support our children to flourish but to help us be the best parents we can be.
It takes a community … and our community is better because of the work of our early childhood professionals.
Heidi Denner is a wife, mum, and educator who is continually inspired by all she learns from the children she works with daily, (and in particular her own three children). As a mother to an autistic child, Heidi is an advocate for children’s needs, but also understands the significance of family mental health and wellbeing and how this is critical to a child’s overall development. As an avid reader and life-long learner regarding all things “neuroscience”, Heidi loves sharing current research regarding brain development so that families can understand how to best support their child’s needs and their own personal mental health and wellbeing.