When you can’t write about what you know.

Because you’re no longer sure you know what you’re doing.  Because what you’ve always known is how to be a good mother to small children, how to wrangle them, squirming, in and out of diapers, how to make the bubble baths extra bubbly and how to get a solid eight hours of sleep while sitting up in a rocking chair.  You instinctively know where to find the missing blankie and the hurts could be fixed with kisses, a Band-Aid or the occasional trip to the ER for stitches even though you told them they couldn’t fly and to get down from that tree RIGHT NOW.   You know how to balance schedules, pick up, drop off and have that one team uniform washed and dried every day.  You’re good at the easy stuff.  And sometimes you wish you could go back and appreciate that it was the easy stuff.

And what you don’t know is how to wrangle them through their teenage years because there’s not a Band-Aid big enough for their hurts, they don’t even want to climb trees anymore and nothing is easy.

When your life’s work as a parent has been making kid-friendly lunches in the shape of smiley faces and reading bedtime stories wrong just to make them fall off the bed, belly laughing.  When you were the highlight of any road trip with your made up songs, their high pitched voices pleading for one more corny knock-knock joke until suddenly it got very loud and you just wanted everybody to play the quiet game.  Let’s see who can be the quietest.  Mumma’s going to play this game with her eyes closed.

Until they don’t find you funny anymore and they’re quiet all the time.  Everything you do is stupid, they choose everybody else but you and they won’t even get in your car.  Unless they need a ride somewhere but even then, you’re still stupid.

Because staying awake all night with a small sick child, washing bed sheets and watching the clock in anticipation of some sleep made you tired.  The combination of bathroom cleaner, laundry detergent and vomit always smelling stronger at 2AM.  Their fragile little bodies snuggled in bed as you prayed it was the last round before closing your tired eyes.

And yet, in place of the anticipation of hearing your teenage child finally pull in the driveway late at night, you’d go back to the endless loads of midnight laundry because somebody peed in the bed again.  Because wondering if they’re safe and making good choices makes your eyes more tired than washing bedsheets and soothing midnight terrors.  And although there’s a time to inject humor into lifestyle blogging, sometimes it’s not a joke.

And what sometimes seems funny is actually just the raw truth of our biggest fears.

Our fears of them not only repeating our mistakes but making new ones.  Bigger ones.

And there are days when you’re confident in your abilities, your experience and intuition.  Some days you know what you’re doing and when they listen to you, follow your example and succeed, you want to fall on your knees with the same joy you felt the day they took their first step.  You take out your camera and snap pictures, cheering and clapping for something you had no idea would someday be a big deal.

Except you’re no longer allowed to take their picture.

And you’re still stupid.

So you hold on by the seat of your high-waisted mom pants and hope that all the smiley faced sandwiches and upside bedtime stories are enough to for them to cling to when the world pulls them in all directions.  When the world tells them Yes to all the things you’ve said No to.  When the confidence you once had before they somehow (and seemingly overnight) became taller than you, flew out the window.  The same window you worry about them sneaking out of.

And so you hold on, love them and believe that they can hear you, even with earbuds in.

And every once in a while, you cut their sandwiches into the shapes of smiley faces because it always tastes better that way.

Renée Chalou

About Renée Chalou

Renée Chalou lives and raises her family in Presque Isle, where she owns a fitness center, LiveWell United. Her oldest son is in his second year at UMO, her daughter plans to attend UMPI in the spring and her youngest son is an active, happy 11 year old in 6th grade. From her life experiences as a homeschooling parent, blending a family, and transforming herself from an overweight, side-line mother to a competitive athlete mother and fitness leader in her community, she writes about what she knows: living life well even when it's not perfect. She writes about finding and clinging to the good even when it would be easy to focus on the bad, no matter what challenges life brings. Life in Northern Maine is wonderful, full of adventures and sub-zero temperatures. It's not for everybody and nobody claims it's easy. But it's a good life, it's hers and she'd like to share some of it with you.