A few months ago on Instagram I wrote this: "The things I do over and over (and over and over) again shape me. The mundane and the daily have more impact on me than those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I am a river rock, and my everyday life is my river. Though I cannot see today how I am changing, years from now I will see it." I've thought about this a lot in the months since then, and I believe it even more today! But it's not just true for me. It's true for my children too. The things we do together and I do for my children day after day provide an anchor for them in an often scary situation: growing up. And our rituals become important anchors, but they also become their river, shaping them (though it be ever so slowly) into their future selves. It's not our fun outings or my occasional outbursts of anger that shape them as much as it is the repeated flow of our days.
Not everyone gets this or sees this, but my dear friend (and one of the best souls in all of Southern Oregon) does. She lights up when she tells me in her sweet South African accent about their evening routines: watching her boys stumble from the car to the house with backpacks as large as they are; brewing her evening cup of tea while making dinner; playing games in the backyard after mealtime (if the weather is nice) to expend leftover energy; brushing little boy teeth and little boy hair.
It's crazy, as evenings always are with young children, and even crazier when both parents work full-time. But she wouldn't trade it for the world. With two boys on the loose, my dear friend worries about the future like we all do: Will they ever grow out of their...rambunctious, aggressive, destructive boyhood?! Will they grow up to be kind-hearted, gracious, courageous men?
They're still rough rocks. Young children haven't had a long exposure to the smoothing power of the river. But they are experiencing it. With every evening of backpacks and kisses and tea and love tackles and teeth brushing and prayers, they are being shaped.
Your children are river rocks, and your everyday life is their river. Though you cannot see today how your children are changing, years from now you will see it.