I Gotta Wear Shades

Bethany Thies essays

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“Is right now the past or the present?”

My eldest always has a way of asking a question in a way that begs reflection. Truth be told, it is not very often that I have the chance to discuss time in more than peripheral shouting because we are continually and expertly running out of it.

“Well, the present is what is happening this very minute. I'm talking to you right now. This is our present. The past is time that is already gone. Things in our memories belong to the past.”

She contemplated this while dressing in front of her favorite spot by the stove. “So, all of the things we haven't done or said yet…that's the future?”

Success. It is a rare commodity when a mother has immediate 'teaching moment' results. So often our spoken words fall out of our mouths and into an abyss where they are stored until our children's mid-20s.

“Yes. Exactly. The future is so exciting. We just never know what is ahead on the road.”

“Do you know where my butterfly necklace is? The one we got at the museum?”

And *poof*, like that, the moment was gone. Seamless transition from present to past. It's how all of my moments with the children have felt. I get the hang of it and then, it's gone. My quest to master this job has been perpetually denied.

There will be moments—raw and powerful—that then become devastatingly boring minutia, that then become the past. Because I'm a mother, I spend my limited free time in bed at night cataloging each day. Good moments, bad moments, questionable moments, teaching moments, moments of failure, moments of success, moments of joy and sorrow. We claw, tape and superglue a life together made of these moments hoping that, at the conclusion, it's good enough and worthy enough to carry forward. At least some of it; our best-of reel.

This is the first winter that I will not be found buried alive under a pile of size 8 and smaller snow boots. This is the first winter that all of the children are mobile. This is the first winter, knock on something, that I have not been seen carrying screaming, anvil-sized dead weight under each arm—sideways—out of a birthday party. This is the winter of my future.

It would be incredibly poignant and popular to say that the days of small went by so fast and that the past was more kind in memory, but, I feel more so like a war veteran returned home; more relieved than somber. More running forward and less looking behind.

The smallness of them will always live in photos and smells my memory could not forget even through hypnosis, but, I love this time…dare I say…more. With interesting conversations to be had and all of the possibilities of growth and the future just at my reaching, hungry fingertips.

I am presently engaged.

Do you ever have Bad Parenting Moments? Keep reading more from Bethany!

About the Author

Bethany Thies

Bethany Thies is a writer and the proud mother to four, young Vikings. She is the author of and the chronically unread poetry blog . She can often be found searching for socks, keys, discount non-perishables and a bathroom lock her children cannot pick. Bethany's work has been published in two bestselling humor anthologies, on several parenting sites and in old fashioned black and white in her local, independent newspaper. You can also listen to her pontificate on Vermont radio every month. Her children are unimpressed.

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