Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer who planted seeds to grow bamboo. Every day he watered the soil; every day he checked on his plant. An entire year passed and there was no sign that tending to his garden had paid off.
The following year he kept watering daily. There were times he did not feel much like filling his watering can and taking it to the garden, but he did. His life was busy, other work had to be done, but still, he made sure to water his bamboo. There were periods that others needed him or unexpected things happened that made it difficult to water his bamboo, but he persisted. After the second year there was still nothing. Not a sprout, twig, or any sign of something about to erupt from the earth.
This went on for three more years. The villagers shook their heads as he watered the unfruitful soil. He paid them no mind.
In the fifth year, the bamboo not only sprouted, but shot up 90 feet in only 60 days.
The previous years it seemed tending to the garden was a fool’s errand. There were no visual or measurable fruits of the farmer’s labors. The hard work seemed futile. Yet below the surface, invisible to all, a strong and healthy root system was growing daily. Roots that supported tremendous growth. Roots from which the bamboo soared skyward.
It is true that there is a Chinese bamboo tree, which after planted does not grow for five years and in the fifth year shoots up 90 feet in 60 days. The rest is my version of a folk tale. The metaphor is clear. In our own lives the magic number may not be year five. It may take longer to realize our goals. It may be a shorter amount of time. Whether getting a new job, learning a new skill, the farmer is you. The farmer is me. The farmer is anyone who has ever had a dream.
Things rarely just happen. Usually it is after a lot of hard work, persistence and patience. You know the drill. But without watering our bamboo daily, we cannot expect anything to change.
Moms are the best bamboo farmers I know. But, we are notorious for watering everyone else’s gardens. Helping kids and spouses, friends and family members in small and big ways so they can attain their goals. Taking care of the needs of family, balancing work, kids, activities, sports, medical appointments, help with homework is all part of our job.
But remember, the bamboo farmer in the story had other obligations too.
There is still time in each day to water our own gardens, moms! Fear not, just one little thing a day to start.
Here is my toast for the New Year. I raise a glass (or sippy cup, or bottle, or juice box) to moms everywhere. This one is for you. To your personal, private little bamboo garden that may have been neglected recently. To your dream or goal, that deserves attention.
A reminder to ask yourself throughout 2012, “Have I watered my bamboo today?”