Years ago, I ordered a bunch of marbles. My daughters were growing up quickly and I wanted to figure out how to remind myself of how short these years are.
So I bought a big fishbowl and put one marble in representing each week of time that my daughters will be in our home – before college.
As the years have passed, I kept transitioning to smaller bowls. It started as a large fishbowl, now it is small, glass bowl (seen above). A few years ago, I also chose to use specific colors. The red ones represent Emily (our 14 year old). The blue ones represent Morgan (our 17 year old). And the green ones represent Ali (our 18 year old). For many years, every Sunday I've pulled one marble from the jar. I would either carry it in my pocket all week long or just throw it away to represent that another week is gone from this phase of parenting.
The idea is – every Sunday I pull one marble and when the green ones are gone – Ali is in college; when the blue ones are gone, Morgan will be in college, and when the red ones are gone, Emily will be in college. When I first put the marbles in the bowl, it seemed like it would take forever. But Sunday morning, I took out the last green marble with Ali standing near me. It wrecked me, and I was a wreck all day long. There is no way I could have preached Sunday morning. I couldn't hardly sing. I just stood with my arm around Ali crying and trying to sing. I tried to hang out in the lobby, but every conversation choked me up (no matter what it was about). So I hid in my office between services. I'm such an emotional wimp.
I am so excited for Ali. We are leaving Tuesday morning to drive to Liberty University to drop her off at college. College was such a crucial time in my life – that any written description of how important it was would be inadequate. So I'm very excited for her, but I am so sad for Sue and me. I'm losing the phase of life where Ali is under my direct care, supervision, and where I get to spend time with her almost every day.
I'm so proud of her and happy for her, but I think the next few days will be a bit rough. Pray for us! She is an amazing girl who will love college and will thrive there, but I already can't wait for her first break!
Now I just need to not be one of those people who constantly tell young parents how fast these years will go. I didn't "get it" when people said that and others won't either. It is one of those things in life you just have to experience.