Sunday, July 15, 2012

losing our marbles

I don't often discuss religious or political ideas in this space as I really want it to remain a beautiful and harmonious space that brings people of all beliefs together in parenting, creativity, enjoying nature, etc.  However, as I sat in church this morning, the message was such a parenting revelation to me that I feel compelled to share it here.

The speaker told a story about a podcast that he listened to about how short time, and our lives, truly are. The person giving the podcast gave an example of putting marbles in a jar, one marble for each week that your child has left at home before heading to college, and how sobering that image is.  The speaker at church decided to invest in marbles for each of his four children and so each of his children have a jar with the number of marbles corresponding to the number of weeks that his children have left in his home until starting college.  Then he showed the jar in which he'd collected the marbles representing the weeks that had passed since his family started this project.  There were 56 marbles representing the 14 weeks that have passed.  He mentioned that just seeing those jars sitting on his mantle at home was such a visible reminder to always treat his family as if their time together was short.  Because it truly is.

And so I counted up how many marbles each of our children would have.

Paul: 264 marbles
Elizabeth: 316 marbles
Philip: 420 marbles
Finn: 628 marbles

Those numbers seem so sobering.  In some ways 264 or 316 weeks seem like forever, but in other ways it seems like yesterday that Paul and Elizabeth were just beginning kindergarten and had 628 weeks left in our home.  Now they have less than half that many.

In the day to day challenges of parenting, it can be easy to focus on the monotony of cooking, laundry, running children here and there, helping with school work.  It can be easy to forget that the marbles are disappearing out of the jar. Week, by week, by week.

And as each of those marbles disappear, I lose a chance to lay in bed beside someone and listen to her dreams instead of folding laundry.  I lose a chance to play with trains for 5 more minutes instead of getting a head start on dinner. I lose a chance to play a board game instead of knitting or reading on my own. I lose a chance to make memories on a farm, at the market, in the backyard, on a hike. Each week those marbles disappear, whether I've made the most of that week or not.

I don't know if I'll buy 1628 marbles and divide them into 4 jars to watch them tick away the weeks I have left with my children.  I do know that I will find a tangible way to remind myself to be in the moment, to enjoy this short time I have with them.  They only have one childhood to remember. And that time is right now.

Because in 628 marbles...628 weeks...that chance will be gone.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. ~ Psalm 90:12


  1. Joy, this is absolutely beautiful. You have wisdom way beyond your years. I'm so proud of you and the way that you parent and live your life. You & Paul are truly role models for your children and they will only know how lucky they are to have you in their lives when they have children of their own. God Bless all of you and allow you to enjoy those 628 weeks!!!! Love you all, Bonnie.

  2. Oh Joy, thank you for this! I was having a pity party weekend and in the process I lost sight of what is important and how brief our time really is. Thank you, thank you!!! You always inspire me and make me smile. XOXO

  3. thank you. I have a framed saying above our mantle - "be present every day" and this is really to remind me of being present with my children. I can never be reminded enough of how fleeting time is. thanks.

  4. This is wonderful Joy, it really puts everything into perspective.
    Have a lovely week.
    xo xo

  5. This is an incredibly moving post. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. This really made me think. Thank you Joy, for sharing such these beautiful words.

  7. You can't make me cry like that. Stop. (sniff sniff) So beautiful Joy!

  8. Thank you for a beautifully written post. The line "they only have one childhood and the time is right now" is something I constantly chant silently and try earnestly to live by. The marbles will be all gone before we know it.

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  10. I want to buy Marbles. You can help with information were to do? I am from Brazil. My e-mail :
    Thank you very much.


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