I've Got Your Back

originally in Abilene Families

“I’ve got your back.”

That has become a popular, if not overused, phrase lately. Spoken truthfully from the heart it is one of my favorites -- conveying a steadfastness to stand by your fellow man.

A coach said this to one of my children during a particularly difficult week -- not that weeks come in many varieties other than difficult in middle school. I was blessed that beyond simply recognizing that my child needed that reminder, the coach would go out of his way to speak these affirming words to my child.

Of course I wasn’t surprised. That is the very thing that has endeared this coach to our family and what makes him good at what he does. He recognizes that in sport and in life it’s never about taking care of yourself first and only, but watching out for your team, especially a player’s weak spot. Leigh Ann Touhy explains this very concept in the opening scene of the movie, “The Blind Side.”Two of my writing assignments this month were about seemingly different subjects, yet came down to the same point: “We couldn’t do it without the community.” I was assigned an article for Abilene’s Project Graduation, which helped seniors party safely for the 25th year in a row this year.

From restaurants to civic organizations to law enforcement to parent volunteers to many other funders and supporters, the Project Graduation board was adamant that Project Graduation would never happen without community support. The entire Abilene community steps in and says to our graduating seniors, “I’ve got your back!”

Assigned the feature story for this month’s Abilene Families, I also was honored to interview Captain Jason Pflug and his wife, Captian Megan Pflug who take turns being a long-term single parent while the other is deployed. From grandparents to babysitters to schedulers, an entire community of supporters steps in and says to this military family, “I’ve got your back!”

Much to the chagrin of my parents, I have always been described as “fiercely independent.” (Don’t worry: I got one just like me as payback.) It has only been in the last few years that I earned enough wrinkles and gray hair to see the blessing of the community around me: other parents, friends, people who adopted my children as local grandchildren, or nieces/ nephews, people who adopted me as a sister/ daughter.

Now that my children are heading deeper into the teen years, I see how much I need other parents to say to me and/ or my children, “I’ve got your back.” One of my dear mentors tells me she can’t get by without the network of parents she has looking out for her own children.

However, an unspoken rule among the parents is that one must never reveal the source of their information. If she tells her kids, “Joe’s mom said you were at Starbuck’s during third period...?” poor Joe has just become a target for the rest of high school, and she has lost a valuable source of information for the future for her kids.

Rather, when pressed, her answer to her kids about her wealth of information is, “Parents talk.” And do we ever. We’ve got each other’s backs. We have to, if we, or our children, are to survive this season of growth. It’s the only way we will truly have those eyes in the backs of our heads.

Settling into this wonderful community is great for that reason. I’ve got so many weak spots as a parent, I need all the community I can get looking out for my blind side.

And, while you’re looking out for me, don’t you worry ‘bout a thing, friend. I’ve got your back.

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