I wonder which one of my kids will end up a crackhead

by Janelle Hanchett

I wonder which one of my kids will end up a crackhead.

No really, I do. Because you know one of them will.

No matter how great of a mother I am (and you know I am), these damn kids will turn out exactly, well, the way they’re supposed to turn out. And just the rule of numbers indicates that one of them will most likely completely and totally BLOW IT.  And with me as a mother, the probability exponentially increases.

Wait. What’s that I hear?

You think you have some control over how your kids turn out?

Oh, sunshine.

No, you don’t.

(By the way, I’m not really talking to you, so don’t get offended. I’m more responding to one of the cunning and clever (and obviously silly) voices in my head.)

Thanks to food, I learned right away that my actions have limited influence over the way my kids turn out. I started both my son and daughter on the same food (avocado) at the same age. I fed them the same things (whatever I ate, ground up in the same damn food grinder (!)). I gave them no processed sugar until 2. I fed them mainly meats and other protein and non-sweet vegetables. For dessert, they would get fruit. AND YET, my daughter, Ava, will pretty much only eat meat and starches. She gags when she cleans pumpkins on Halloween. My son will only eat fruit and vegetables. We have to bribe him “when your meat is gone, you can have your zucchini.” Together, they have a very balanced diet.

You see? That ain’t my fault.

That’s THEM. Being THEM.

And one of THEM is likely to look around at this world and say to themselves “ah, fuck it. Let’s have a beer.”

And then there’s the case of my brother and I.

We were raised by the same two people in the same damn house with the same religion in the same socio-economic strata with the same ethics and education.

And yet, he did wood-working in high school while I dropped acid before chemistry class; he got his research published as an undergrad while I gallivanted drunk around Barcelona, “studying abroad;” and ultimately, he went on to an ivy league medical school while I had babies I couldn’t afford and tried my hand at whiskey-induced homelessness. At the time, I thought I was some badass rebel renegade and he was a “square.”

I see things differently now.

But it’s nobody’s fault I turned into a fuck up.

Who’s got two thumbs and complete responsibility for this shit?

That’s right. Me.

I had all the same potential. I was given the same gifts and guidance and love. I just learn differently.  Or maybe I just don’t learn at all. Or maybe there’s a side of me that just ain’t right. Or maybe in a former life my brother was a crazy rebel rockstar expatriate writer drunk who tried it all and lost it all and therefore learned what I had to learn in this life…so he started out a little more grounded, a little more adjusted. A little more there. Or MAYBE, I’ll never know.

And MAYBE, it’s all just the way it is.

And it’s all exactly as it should be.

Wait. Shhhhhhh. What did you say ?

You think your parents made you what you are? And if they had been X you’d now be Y and therefore it’s THEIR FAULT?

Oh, sparkle face.

Get your head out of your ass. You are what you are because you haven’t changed yet and your life is what it is because of the decisions you’ve made.


…so…all schizophrenic monologues aside…I’m just sittin’ here gearing up (in my own special way) for one of my kids to think she’s a rebel badass and totally blow it, all the while blaming me and my poor parenting, until she [suddenly and to my endless relief] removes her head from her ass and sees things differently from her new, elevated [and vastly brighter] perspective of non-ass…suddenly realizing  squares aren’t that bad, and, come to think of it, neither was her mother.

So she’ll hang out for a bit in grown-up land, then one day she’ll call her mother, telling her she loves her, and thanking her, for being alright.

And her mother will say “I’m glad you’re okay, baby. I was worried about you.”

(And by the way, sorry you turned out just like me.)

And the daughter will say “it’s okay, mom, we all gotta learn somehow.”

And then they’ll be in it together. Just maybe as it should be.

  • Corinne

    You’ve done it again! Favorite line of the post: “Who’s got two thumbs and complete responsibility for this shit?”

    • renegademama

      hee hee. Corinne – I think it is RAD that you read this thing. Thank you for commenting. You crack me the hell up via Facebook — awesome.

  • Stacie voyles

    Wow, you never cease to amaze me. You could not have said it any better. I am the same way. For some reason I have never been able to learn from other examples. I have to make the mistakes MYSELF before I finally get it.

  • Rebekah C

    Well spoken, schizophrenia included.

    • renegademama

      checked out your blog – you have a new follower. word.

  • Christina

    Holly shit Janelle I worry about this every day. My son is 13… Yikes.

    • Christina

      BTW I love the positive spin you put on this. For some reason I truly believe I need your point of view in my life. It gives me perspective.

      Thanks again.

      • renegademama

        Wow. This meant a lot to me. I gotta say, I’ve been really depressed all week (probably just sick and too tired and overwhelmed) and after I wrote this post I thought to myself “people are going to hate you for this one. I mean WHO thinks this shit?”

        And then I see this, and I breath a sigh of relief. Thank you, Christina. Truly.

  • Mrs. Tuna

    This is why some of us eat our young.

    • renegademama

      HA! also checked out your blog and I’m ***swooning***. you funny. well done. (and you have one more follower as well…) Cheers.

  • Stacey

    In our family it was my mom thinking, “I wonder which of my kids will end up in therapy.” Her money was on me or my brother. Turned out my sister had the meltdown.

    • renegademama

      Oh Yeah. I think that one too (the whole crackhead things was just a bit overly dramatic). I guess you never know which one (if any) will end up looney. Although I was always a whack-job. my brother and mom used to say “margaret! calm down!” *(Margaret was my alter-ego. the fucking crazy one. they named her that. not me. I would have chosen something more catchy, like “Alexus.”). anyhoo, maybe i should write a blog post on that…

  • Anti-Supermom

    And this was one of the reasons I didn’t want a third child, I was screwing with my odds. Freakin’ hilarious post.

    • renegademama

      HAHA! Totally! speaking of freaking hilarious. i love your blog. followed. cheers.

  • Shan

    I do wonder if it’s the one you always thought could maybe go that way or not.

  • Wendy

    Having learned of your blog from your brother (I work with him), there is NO way he was a crazy rebel rockstar in in a previous life!! (BTW, I LOVE your blog!)

    • renegademama

      I love this so much I’m (almost) speechless. AWESOME>. and thank you!

  • Dorothy

    I love the way you put this into words. It’s all true (and something I worry about – a lot!)

    • renegademama

      Thanks. I am so glad other people think about this stuff. As I mentioned above, I was very worried that this one would throw me into the “really bad person” category..and maybe it did…but at least there are others around!

  • Ado

    It’s a rare mom blog that stays w. me and really, really makes me think – and yours does. I’ve just found you today and your blog is very, very honest and thought-provoking (and well-written). I really appreciate your bare-bones honesty. There is a really low percentage of mothers who are able to be that honest a.) with the world and b) – more importantly – with themselves. You are not a fuck up from what I’ve read so far. (And you did way better with your kids health food journey than I did, my hat’s off to you…) Anyway I am so glad I found your blog – can’t wait to read it.

    • renegademama

      Wow…thank you so much. I really appreciate it. And I can’t wait to check out your blog! I’m on my way now… Cheers!

  • Lindsey

    Oh sparkle face! This is simply amazing! I’ve been reading your blog non-stop since I found it last week! Seriously makes me laugh during 3am feedings! Thanks for the heads up of all the fun to come! Loving every word of it, you are one funny lady, with a very beautiful family!
    Please keep up the great work! I look forward to more reading everytime I have to put my phone down and actually do real things, like change diapers and make meals! Lol, cheers to keeping it rea!
    Much love! Xoxo

  • Harriet Fasenfest

    Well now, it is true enough its a crap shoot. Our kids will go through what they will and be what they must. But if the crazy does enter into your life you, as the mother, will not be able to say “oh well” but will, instead, almost eat out your liver thinking of all the shit you should have, could have, done even though you sorta know (as you so eloquently write of it) that shit happens and will remember (if you were “that” sort of kid) how no one could have stopped you. Sadly (cause I know) none of it will amount to a puddle of piss when you’re pacing the floor wondering where the kid is or as you listen to the sound of police sirens wondering, worrying and hoping that it isn’t your kid in the cop car or worse. Yes my dear, your suggestion that it doesn’t matter what we do as parents may be spot on but it will not help you when the day comes the apples of your eye wander in the cold clutches of addiction or any other possible malady known to beset those of the wonder years.. Mind will not conquer matter on this one. Nope. You will feel the sweat and tears. You will cry and beseech. But what you won’t do is be all cavalier about it cause when push comes to shove watching is a hell of a lot worse then doing (if you were “that” sort of kid). Watching as a powerless bystander will make you look at woman still pregnant with a certain sadness cause you kinda know what they are up against. Hate to tell you this but, no matter the wizened position, you are only as happiest as your saddest child.

    • renegademama

      I get it. You’re clairvoyant. You know how all people respond in all situations even if you haven’t met them. Amazing! And you can do that by reading one blog post! I, for one, am impressed. 🙂

      To be honest, I thought your comment was interesting (condescending and pretentious, but still, interesting), mostly because it’s incredible that you would TELL ME how I would act even though you don’t know me, but also that your comment is a classic response of an individual who has not yet realized that her happiness is not contingent upon others – NOT EVEN HER CHILDREN. If you’re unhappy, crying and beseeching and doing whatever it is you evidently do, you’re doing that yourself. Your kids’ addiction has shit to do with it. Sorry to be harsh, but that’s a fact.

      Nobody is responsible for your inner life except you.

      I used to think everybody else was responsible for my happiness. Then I “wizened” up, to use your words, and realized the world is okay just as it is. I’m the one with the fucking problem.

      • Harriet Fasenfest

        Dear condensation sister (you are no slacker yourself),

        I know you think your are tough but even the cocksure fall under the weight of hindsight.

        Best of luck.


        • renegademama

          Condensation? HAHAHA! Just kidding. I know what you meant.

          It’s not about being tough, it’s about surrendering to the difficult reality that I am responsible for my own happiness. If this rubs you the wrong way, I imagine it is because deep down, you know it’s true.

  • sarah renea

    I just found your blog today and I must say I love it. I can definitely tell you’re in recovery and that you take it seriously. way to carry the message. i’m inspired by you.

  • Elizabeth Bowen

    I’m another sparkle face. I want to blame someone else for the way I turned out.

    But really, all I can do is call up my momma and thank her for being human and doing the best she could/can (even now at 25 she’s my momma) with the limited parenting knowledge she had (honestly, the less the better imho) and owning up to her own failures. She apologizes for her mistakes, but wont let me blame her for my choices.

    Thanks for the reminder, I like reading your words gurl, it gives me hope that shit is real and life goes on and it might be ok but that’s ok.


  • Yvonne

    Just ran across your blog today!!! I love it!!! I 2 am a mother in recovery wow does that sound right??? Yes, yes it does !!! I can’t wait to read more bc I can relate well with the words written here. Thank u for getting real in your blog and not being a sparkle mom !!!!

  • Tina Buchberger

    Just starting following at the beginning of the month and I love your perspective!! You are very brave to say this stuff because really it’s what most if us think but are to afraid to speak out loud. Thank you again for yet another amazing post!

  • lesly

    Well, a friend posted your latest on FB, and it got me, so I came here and couldn’t stop reading. This one is priceless. I have 2 sons. Both raised the same, fed the same meals, got the same discipline, etc. Whatever I did, or didn’t do, worked for one, but not the other. But wait, is that me ‘blaming’ myself again? I have spent the past 10 years, trying to learn how not to do that. I have mostly good days, when I believe it, but I have plenty of moments when I fail…. if only I had…. if only I hadn’t…. Being the mother of an addict creates an illness all it’s own. I love your page, blog, whatever. I will stay connected with you. Maybe I’ll get my son to read it. Thank you!

  • Rachel Blackwell

    I love you, let’s be besties. Startiiiiing, now.

  • Laurie57

    Just discovered you. Never stop swearing, it’s a choice, not a life style. I guess I read this blog post even though it’s older as a reminder of my sister who will be gone one year next week. She was our crazy sib…SO talented, so smart, so real. She was 33 years sober when she passed from cancer and an entire city will miss her understanding and eternal acceptance…and let me tell you, Tucson,AZ is in desperate need of understanding…and water.
    Anyway, love you. As the Mom of 5 kids all of whom are almost grown, I wonder who will get the addict gene, it’s on both sides of the family and you just don’t escape that kind of DNA.

  • Chrissy Howard

    Wow! I just found you. And am so glad that I did. My family is struggling with my brother and his girlfriend’s addictions and trying to understand. It is challenging to say the least. I LOVE your honesty and outlook. I needed your perspective this week. Your blog is a gift that I unwrapped at just the right moment.

  • Roz

    Thanks for your honest blog. What a relief to hear this expressed so well.i got 3 out of 3 with substance abuse issues. Tough to not take it personally. They are also beautiful and know exactly where help and support are. As they blossom into adulthood, my most significant exercise is not intervening inappropriately. In the crazy world of addiction that path is a muddy one. Thanks for cutting through it,..and making me laugh.