It’s fall; harvest time. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it’s the time of year we give thanks for the bounty of the earth and the fruit of our labor. Anyone who’s ever worked on a farm – or just your own little garden – knows it takes preparation, hard work, and patient tending. It’s so great to watch the little sprouts and then the growth and then the full fruits of harvest.
Yesterday was one of those harvest days for me. I walked into the startup of a new elective: “Getting Organized.” The room was full of chatting, laughing women who were obviously enjoying each other’s company. What drew me in was the “buzz” and the little explosions of laughter. I finally had to get up from my desk and see what was going on.
They were rummaging through big piles of fabric looking for just the right one for the project of the day — “storage bags” for plastic bags and another one of hanging pockets for mail or socks or small toys…things to help them get organized. Cute and interesting – a great elective. But as I watched, and got pretty emotional, here was right before my eyes the fruit of our labor. The facilitator of the elective was a woman who was in our very first Mother’s Club and who graduated from our very first cohort of the Strong Families Institute. She was warm and engaging and obviously respected by the women in the class. She was being assisted by two other more recent SFI grads…and a volunteer who had just started SFI this month.
As they worked on their little projects, the conversation moved to small talk about family and challenges. One mother was struggling with her son’s teacher. I’m not great at Spanish, but I understand enough to get the gist of most conversations, and right before my eyes was the “mothering” we often talk about and the relationship building that is key to risking change. And there wasn’t a paid staff person in the room!
The facilitator is one of our older mothers now. When she started with us seven years ago, her oldest was 15. Now only one child is left in the nest. Her other two are spreading their wings. Her oldest just graduated last spring with a BS in Kinesiology and hopes to enter the Fire Academy in January. Her middle child has just started her senior year of college and will graduate in May with a degree in Social Work. WOW! That is some serious fruit.
I walked out of the room with a big smile and a full heart. And I headed back to my desk to keep working on things that are tedious and not very rewarding, remembering that plowing, planting, and weeding also aren’t very rewarding in the short run. But healthy crops demand the tedious tending that leads to a bountiful harvest…and there is certainly work to do today!