Things that Suck More Than Turning 34

by Janelle Hanchett

I’m turning 34 tomorrow. I know, I know. I’m a baby.

Unless you’re under the age of 25, in which case I’m used up with one foot in the grave and should probably just throw in the ol’ towel now while I still have some dignity left.


To be honest, I get a little freaked out about my birthdays, not because I’m upset about getting old and therefore less hot (um, “less hot” is a condition I’ve grown rather accustomed to, thankyouverymuch) and more saggy (tits to knees, for the win!), or because I’m afraid to face my own mortality (I’m kinda happy just to be here).

But rather because I get a little irritated that I’m not “further along” in my existence – like I should be more or better or someplace else, you know, more “accomplished,” “advanced,” SUCCESSFUL. Whatever the fuck that means. I don’t know. I’m happy where I am. At least I think I am. I have you people. I like that.

But my birthdays are always accompanied by a vague irritation, a little stick in my side, a lil bastard sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear: “Janelle, you really should be more by now. You’re kinduva loser.”

I think this irritation is significantly increased by the fact that I spent a good portion of my adult life drunk, running around and around (and around and around) in tiny little circles (which felt very important at the time, FYI) – going nowhere, as they say, very, very fast.

So really, I’ve only been a grown up since 2009, but considering where I was then, it’s safe to say I’ve come a long way, and, once again, have nothing to complain about.

So that’s rad: When you set the bar really freaking low, you can totally be satisfied with minimally awesome conditions.

Wow, that sounds like a lot parenthood.

Anyhoo, as usual, since (as you know) I’m a radiant beam of positivity, I thought I would make up a list of all the things that suck worse than turning 34.

This is my version of “positive self-talk.”

I think you’ll agree with many of them.

Things that Suck More than Turning 34:

  1. Being a crack head.
  2. Eating lunch with Poppy Harlow.
  3. Being Poppy Harlow’s son.
  4. Growing up in Westboro Baptist Church.
  5. Being born a female in Afghanistan.
  6. Running a day care.
  7. Finding yourself locked in a room with other people’s offspring. (Oh wait. That’s number 6.)
  8. Finding yourself locked in a room with your own children. (Yes, that’s better.)
  9. Tattooing small nautical stars all over your face whilst drunk.
  10. Realizing you miscalculated and you’re actually 35. (Whatever bitch, I was born in 1979!)
  11. Failing your Master’s Degree comprehensive exam. (Somebody hold me.)
  12. Being born a male in Afghanistan.
  13. Weighing 400 pounds.
  14. Having 11 kids.
  15. Driving home from the beach with sand in your bathing suit. (Seriously, do you remember that?)
  16. Owning a yellow Labrador retriever who runs away from you at a softball game, breaking his collar, at precisely the moment your 2-year-old bolts off in the other direction and you realize you’re alone and totally and completely screwed because OMG the dog and OMG the child. So you start asking strangers to help you (because they’re all standing there motionless with a face like “Wow. Look at this unique unfolding of events.”) until an angel from on high comes over and says “I’ll get the kid. You get the dog.” And you run off and tackle the motherfucking Labrador like a ninja WWF wrestler. (Not that this happened to me last night.)
  17. A world without the Grateful Dead.
  18. Bigots.
  19. A world without Tyler Durden, Jane Austen, Bill Murray, and/or my husband. (Um, that was a odd list.)
  20. All things that hurt people.
  21. Over-zealous baseball coaches.
  22. And their evil parental cohorts.
  23. Expressions like “the miracle of motherhood” and “I’m playing catch up,” and “at the end of the day” and “we need a paradigm shift” and…
  24. BabyCenter forums discussing circumcision or sleep training.
  25. Little girl shirts that say “Step Aside, Barbie.”
  26. Implying that your child is a replacement for an emaciated plastic doll.
  27. Making up cute, catchy new words, such as “brutiful.” (Sorry, Glennon, but REALLY? Have a little mercy.)
  28. Peeing for the first time after giving birth.
  29. The expectation that because I’m a mother I should give a shit about seasonal cupcakes and yoga pants.
  30. Cleaning up dog diarrhea from the back seat of your car in a Safeway parking lot while the offending canine vomits at your feet while simultaneously trying to eat it.
  31. Listening to people try to defend the conclusion that marriage equality is a bad idea.
  32. The moment you realized you sneezed um, too hard.
  33. PTA meetings.
  34. Administrative staff meetings.
  35. Okay pretty much any meeting.

And…the Number ONE thing that sucks worse than turning 34…yeah that’s right you guessed it…


Because that would mean I didn’t make it past 33. And who wants that?

Really, it’s funny, right? That this is what we all want and don’t want: Getting older. It sucks. But the alternative sucks more.

So this is it, I guess. We just keep moving on and on and on until we aren’t moving on anymore, and every year we get a little closer to that moment, trying like hell to live in this one (Make it count! It may be all you’ve got! (no pressure, though)) — even when it’s a little grayer than expected, a little less glamorous and interesting and bright. Though in some ways, it’s way more so.

It’s the accumulation of all that I’ve ever been and the stuff my future is made of. Here is where it ends, and begins, the life I’ve got, the only one.

So I guess I’ll just say fuck it, and welcome, 34.

To be honest, I’m just happy to be here.

Also happy I’m not having lunch with Poppy Harlow. Because really, at the end of the day, we all just have to look on the bright side and enjoy the fucking miracle of motherhood. A paradigm shift, people. That’s what we’re going for.



Plus, I'm way less fat than I used to be. So there's that!

Let us also not forget I’m way less fat than I used to be. WINNING!

  • Aislinn

    Happy early birthday! I’m under the age of 25, but I don’t think you’re used up at all. I think you’re an amazing strong woman who writes a kick ass blog and has an awesome view on life in general. I think you’re kids are lucky to have a mom like you. I hope that tomorrow is an awesome day for you.

  • Marisa

    Happy birthday!

    Yay for #32!!!!

  • Momtothree

    Wishing you a Happy Birthday, dude. Here’s to (at least) 34 more!
    Enjoy …

  • Heather

    First of all HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY…tomorrow!! I hope you have a fabulous, amazing day!!! Seriously….eat 3 cupcakes if you need to get you through the day! or more…. I LOVE every one of those suckage points. They are so so true. I am actually turning 40 in a few months, and I wrote a blog post about it. I would LOVE for you to read it. I am still getting my bearings with the blogging thing, but I am enjoying it so much. I can not believe I didn’t join the blogger world sooner. People here are so awesome!! and much nicer than facebook..;) But anyway, I was cracking up at your list!! I feel the same way…so maybe it’s a matter of turning any age past 29. That list applies permanently. Again thank you so much for your support in starting my blog. You have inspired me, and told me to just friggin do it…and I hope you know how much I appreciate it! So have an amazing day tomorrow…and eat cupcakes, because you don;t have to share those…;) New blog I wrote -

  • Nichole

    Happy birthday, gorgeous.
    And thanks for the laugh. You brightened an otherwise ho hum Wednesday afternoon. 🙂

  • paige

    happy almost birthday, Janelle. you are wonderful no matter what age you are.

    also, #30 made me laugh. mostly because basically the same thing happened to me but in a walmart parking lot with my cat. he did not vomit and try to eat it though. mostly just a lot of diarrhea and me having to go into the loathsome walmart to get everything needed to clean up his shit. along with people looking at me like, “who the fuck brings their cat to walmart?” me, when they bug bomb my apartment.

  • Beth

    I turn 39(for real, not just the “in denial of 40” 39)this June. I was pissing and moaning about being all but 40, blah blah blah. But within a week, around Christmas, a high school classmate of mine blew his brains out. A few days later another high school classmate’s sister died in her sleep of an aneurysm, she was 29 with 2 young children. Needless to say, I haven’t bitched since. The ages we are…. It’s a badge of survival and something to be grateful for.
    Happy Birthday to you!!!

  • Stephanie

    What’s a seasonal cupcake?? Like, should I be making Easter ones now??

    My grandmother was one of eleven kids. She turned out a’ight.

    And I’m really REALLY aggravated about the same thing right now. REALLY. So you’re not alone.

    But don’t worry about that. Just enjoy. Cheers, friend, and Happy Birthday!

  • lisaeggs

    Happy Birthday! I’ll be joining you (turning 34, that is) in September. I always thought it was cool how we just squeaked in on the disco era. 1979 has such a nice ring to it, I’ve always thought. Pretty picture too 🙂 Have a great day tomorrow. And a great year! xoxo

  • Kim

    Happy Birthday! And, you have accomplished a lot. You help Moms like me laugh every day (almost) and that is good therapy! Thank you!

  • Breezy

    I love your list. Super great. The one about the dog diarrhea and vomit makes me laugh especially because I’ve been there, and it is much funnier to read a story like that when it is about someone else.

    Also, Happy Birthday!

  • jessica

    happy “birfday” 🙂

    I’m 25, by the way.

  • Renee

    Have a Happy Birthday Janelle and enjoy this time! The 30’s and 40’s are the best. This year, I turn 59. It scares the shit out of me. I always though people who were 60 had one foot in the grave. I am not ready to find that out!

  • Lana

    34???? Really??? Life is just beginning and I mean that!! It’s all good love…keep on truckin’

  • Diana Bisares

    Happy birthday, Janelle! You’re awesome and beautiful! 🙂

  • Job

    Why you picking on drug addicts?

  • Joy

    When I turned 33 I sat in a car with my fancy scientist husband and bemoaned,”If only I had found writing sooner. If I had started illustrating 8 years ago I would be where I want to be already. Fuck my life…” And he all PULLED OVER THE CAR (on a European highway) and turned to me, popped on the overhead light and said loud and clear, “Stop. You have to stop that right now. If you don’t you will fuck up your flow. You couldn’t do any of what you can do today, yesterday. You can only do it now. Today was the only day any of this is possible. That is what you need to focus on.”
    So I shut the fuck up and every time that non-accomplishment beast squats in my office or sketch pad I think of this.
    Plus Cindy Lauper wrote girls just wanna have fun when she was 33
    Happy Birthday. (you’re good. truly)

  • Lesley

    34? Ha! I turned 40 this year, quit yer whining.

  • Deanne

    I’ve only been a grown up since 2006, and I often feel the same way! Get it together already! I love your perspective (as always, you speak my language), and I love #17.

  • Anna

    Happy Birthday! My Birthday is tommorow and even though I’m just turning 24, I agree with everything you said. While all the people I went to high school with are just getting their first jobs out of college, I’m celebrating 3 months sober, with 2 little munchkins and a wonderful husband. As “achievments” go I’m pretty behind, but as you said, I am just so happy to be here. You are a true inspiration. <3

  • Kat

    Happy Birthday!

  • Kathy G

    Happy Birthday Janelle. This will be a nice year to remember for you. I can think of 340 more worse things as well because I am a nurse that works on a hospital floor and have a way too intimate knowledge of all things vomit and diarrhea related.

  • Helena Villarta

    Happy Birthday, J! And enjoy the ride, it’s just started 🙂

    • Helena Villarta

      it has only just started

  • jill (mrs chaos)

    Not gonna lie, I wanna know more about the story with the runaway toddler and motherfucking labrador.

    But I get it. I totally get it. I turn 35 next month and I finally feel like I’m getting comfortable with who I am and where I am. Or at the very least, I’m comfortable who and where I am RIGHT NOW knowing that I still want to be more and do more.

    But above all, Happiest of Birthdays to you. I hope it was awesome.

  • Allison

    I just turned 34 on Saturday- And as a mom of three, I am thankful to only have peed myself a little while laughing and reading this post. Thanks for this- thanks for you- and thanks for sharing!

  • nessa

    happy birthday Janelle. I too am turning 34 in a couple of days. and yes I agree with most things on your list. the one thing that keeps me sane about turning a year older is that (at least in my mind) i’m a little smarter than I was last year. but also yes probably less hot.

  • Kyra

    I just wanted to say how completely awesome this is and that it completely improved my day. Thank you so much for posting it!

  • Jessica

    I loved this! I was feeling very lame all by myself until I realized there were more people out there who felt the same. I feel lucky to be alive for my four girls, and I am SO happy I don’t run a daycare!

  • Carla

    Ha! I am feeling the exact same – why the hell haven’t I _____?!?! Turning 34 this week so your blog came up. Yes, I GOOGLED turning 34. It’s what I needed. Thanks for putting it out there.

    PS. I love Glennon, though she makes me cry a lot. Brutiful is a hard pill to swallow, isn’t it? Guess no other words worked.