this week…I fell off a diet, and was thinking of my mom

by Janelle Hanchett


  1. Georgia’s new trick is to climb onto the toilet and then onto the bathroom sink, using the toilet paper roll as her support. Once up there, she drinks out of the faucet, douses her head under water, or “brushes teef.”
  2. Tonight, just to spice things up a bit, she decided to rub hand soap in her eyes. Why was she alone long enough to do that, you ask? Because I’m a bad parent. No really. That’s the reason.
  3. Damn. I should have said I’m into “free-range parenting,” then my neglect could seem purposeful. Not that free-range parenting is neglectful. I don’t know enough about it to form an opinion. At this point, I’m just talking shit.
  4. How surprising.
  5. Honestly, I think I kind of lean toward free-range parenting, unless it involves leaving my kids unattended in a park. Not because I don’t trust my kids, but rather because I don’t trust humanity. Period.
  6. I went on the Paleo diet for 6 days. Yes, that’s right you heard me. Six days. Why? Because I want to lose the last 20 pounds and I thought that diet might help me break my crack-addict need for sugar. Why only 6 days? BECAUSE THAT SHIT IS FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE. Also, I’m a quitter.
  7. I have an exam tomorrow in a linguistics class that constitutes 25% of my grade. I hope that explains why I’m sitting here writing a blog post, and gives you an idea of how well this semester is going. You know, my level of engagement.
  8. Yesterday was my mom’s birthday, so we drove to Chico to visit my brother. All of us (my mom, brother, his wife, their 3 kids and my brood) all went on a bike ride in this enormous park with a creek, then we went back to his house and ate great food and cake (yes, that was the end of my Paleo diet).

And in the days leading up to my mom’s birthday, I was thinking about her.

I was thinking of the woman who nursed me until I was four, who never said I couldn’t sleep in her bed, even when I was 18 and home from college and just felt like it.

I was thinking of a single mother who packed up her kids with no money and a bursting heart and drove them up the coast of California, through Oregon and Washington to British Columbia, with not one campground reservation nor shred of restraint, camping along rivers, hills, in storms, in the sun, catching fish, building fires, shielding us from the rain and the world.

But opening it to us, too.

Of a woman who snuck us into events we couldn’t afford, laughed at crap in her way, stretched a few rules, but only the “little ones.”

Don’t bother telling her it can’t be done.

She’ll do it.

I was thinking of a woman who sang Grace Slick in the car and Big Brother & the Holding Company and talked of the first time she heard “The Times They are A-Changin,” how she cried because his words were so true, and she knew them to be true. How she listened to Sunday concerts in Golden Gate Park in the 60s, worked in a candy shop in high school, and for Francis Ford Coppola later, drank Southern Comfort with Janis Joplin. A woman with some history.

I was thinking of a woman who faced empty pockets but never defeat, started businesses on her own and when they failed, and she found herself at zero, on the ground, she packed up those kids, went to the beach and started again on Monday.

Don’t bother telling her it can’t be done.

I was thinking of a woman who taught me about natural birth and breastfeeding, and when the time came, she helped me do both.

I was thinking of a woman who raised my children while I lost myself in the depths of alcoholism – of a woman who held me but let me go, at just the right time. Of a woman who became “nana” to my babies, who love her and sleep in her bed, just like I did.

Of a woman whose message – single, undying, clearest message – the message she lived, not said – the one that now lives in me like a gospel hymn, the song of my mother…the one down deep in my bones that never quiets, no matter where I am…

No matter what, it can be done.

So get up, and move your feet, and make it happen.

Words that rose up from my soul in my darkest hour, wrapped me in the warmth of a mother’s bed, and pulled me onto my feet.

So happy birthday, mom.

I was thinking about you.


[P.S. I had NO idea this post was going to turn into this, which is why it’s part goofy part serious. Sometimes I start writing and what comes out is not at all what I expected. But I think we’re good enough friends that I can just leave it, and you’ll probably understand.]

my mom and my girls…


  • Ross

    She truly is an amazing woman. I love you too Mom!

    • Maureen

      I should comment more. You touch my heart on a regular basis. I really love how much you cherish your mom.

  • Alycia

    Amazing. We should all have mothers who are so inspiring. She sounds like she is your rock in the truest sense of the word.

  • Jessica

    Tears streaming. What a lovely post.

  • dixiebelle

    Thank you.

  • jessica

    Oh my, I wasn’t expecting that and now I have watery eyes and have a knot in my throat.
    You never know what you’re gonna get.

    And what a mom! Good moms make great grandmothers. I didn’t realize how good my mom was until I had babies. Something about that milestone bonds mother and daughter, I believe.

  • umatji

    aw, she sounds more amazing than any brief comment can do justice. and i imagine writing that post was a grand moment in time. you only get one mother. sounds like you got a good egg.

  • Marisa


  • Renee'

    She sounds amazing! And lucky she is to having a loving daughter like you.

  • jackie

    Those were big shoes to fill, she sounds like a fantasy mom who everyone wants to be, but they start packing the car, a toddler poops and they never get out of the driveway. Maybe things were simpler back then, I don’t know, but I’m sure your mom had no “secret” beyond a wonderful character. I’m a little envious.

  • Claire

    omg make me cry why don’t you…

    Happy Birthday Janelle’s mom!!

  • Kate Hoggins

    gorgeous picture. now i undestand why you are so beautiful, inside and out. thank you for sharing. happy b-day mom!

  • KidLit aka Tracey!

    Awesome. Truly.

  • Shan

    Dude, you make me feel like such a freaking crybaby.

  • Katie Vyktoriah

    Your mom sounds amazing. And it is so apparent that you have a ton of her qualities. I am constantly in awe of you as a mother, a writer and a person.

    This is a beautiful homage. x

  • Corinne

    What a amazing lady with a true genuine soul, a history, and a love of life. Happy Birthday 🙂 belated…