Nine hundred thirty-six.

Does that sound like a lot to you?

I guess it is if it’s the number of dollars you earned at a yard sale. Or the number of hours left until the weekend.

But 936 doesn’t sound like a lot when I think of it as the number of weeks my child spends at home.

But that’s it.

That’s all the time we have, from the day an infant is born until they turn 18 and move on to what’s next for them.

Nine hundred thirty-six.
18 birthdays.
18 Spring Breaks.
18 Christmases.
18 short, sweet summers.

At Parent Cue, we have a jar filled with 936 marbles to illustrate the brevity of our opportunity to daily invest in the lives of our children. We believe that when you count the weeks you have left with a kid, you stand a better chance of making your weeks count.

This coming school year, my three daughters will begin 9th and 5th grade, and my “baby” will begin kindergarten.

If you see me on the first day of school … no, you didn’t.

I will be a mess.

What a milestone school year this one will be. But aren’t they all? Time isn’t elastic. It won’t stretch for me, regardless of how desperately I’d like it to.

Slowing down isn’t time’s job.

Slowing down is my job.

And that’s what keeping that number – 936 – in my mind helps me do. I know that it’s inevitable – the day that last marble is removed for each one of the children God has entrusted to me.

So instead of looking at 936 as a countdown, I want to shift my perspective. I try to look at 936 weeks as a buildup.

It’s a buildup to the moment my girls walk out the door as tenants of this home and are then, instead, tenants of society.

They are adults.

I mean, that’s the plan all along, right? That we give our kids what and who they need for our 936 weeks so that they can be productive, responsible, successful adults for the way-more-than-936 weeks after?

I don’t want to spend all 18 years of parenting being sad that one day my house will be empty, my floors will be clean, and all the laundry will finally be done.

I want to maximize my impact and influence by doing what matters most with the time I do have.

I’m sitting at 208 weeks, 416 weeks, and 676 weeks.

Who will the three of them be when the last marble is removed?

Who will I be?

The answer is: I don’t know. And it’s not completely within my control.

But I am aware.

And I am grateful for the marbles inside the jar and outside the jar. Both represent my most important and critical work in this world—them.

Want Your Own Marbles?

If you want to start your own countdown using marbles, visit our Parent Cue Store! You have approximately 936 weeks from the day a child is born until he or she graduates from high school. The Legacy Marbles bag provides 1,000 marbles for parents to display in the container of their choice as a visual reminder to keep playing for keeps. Because, when you see how much time you have left, you tend to do more with the time you have now.