This week…Seven years later, it’s done.

by Janelle Hanchett


  1. Sometimes camping trips are fun. Sometimes your eldest daughter vomits in the tent, at 4am, somehow managing to not only hit THREE sleeping bags, but also your purse, but not the outside of the purse, THE INSIDE. Right inside.
  2. I can’t make this shit up.
  3. At times like that, one must recognize the need to fold. There’s no hand to play. Not the time to fight, pull through, power forward. That’s the time to throw in the vomit-stained towel, pack your shit, and leave.
  4. That was this morning at 4am. I should not be writing this. I should be hanging with my beloved friends on a lake in the Tahoe National Forest. At least I should be just rolling into my driveway, after spending the day lakeside, among the pines and the mountain air, crystal water and California sunshine. But alas, being a gracious and loving mother, I came home for my poor sick daughter.
  5. Half that sentence was a lie. I came home, but I didn’t do it graciously. Or lovingly.
  6. In fact, I was a royal bitch about it. I acted like a horrible little kid not getting her way. You see, I had been looking forward to this trip as the light at the end of a long, dark miserable tunnel, and when it was cut short, I fell into a most impressive state of self-pity. Seriously, I felt like stomping my feet and refusing to participate (but what about meeeee!!!?). Instead, I just scowled and stomped around and assumed the martyr position.
  7. Anyway I’m over it. Once again I learn old Will was right: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” Shakespeare and the Buddhists – obviously they figured out something. I expected too much out of that trip. After months of no break, of excruciating exhaustion and almost ceaseless pressure, I staked it ALL on this trip. It was going to be The Thing that set me right again. Ah, fuck.
  8. Hopefully you all are still somewhere cool for the long weekend…enjoying yourselves. WAH POOR ME. On your way home tomorrow, to tune out the sound of children asking 12,000 unanswerable questions, perhaps you can check out the podcast “One Bad Mother” with Biz Ellis & Theresa Thorn. They are funny, down-to-earth women who aren’t afraid of the occasional f-bomb. I was super honored (and terrified) to be on their show. You can listen here. Please do, and tell me what you think. {You can find their Facebook page here.}
  9. Speaking of thinking, I did some of that Friday afternoon as I was driving from Sacramento up to the mountains. I was thinking that I graduated with an M.A. in English, on Friday, at 3pm. Wore the robe and everything. It’s done. Off and on for 7 years I worked for that fucker. And finally, I finished it.
  10. Specifically, I was thinking about how five years ago I was sleeping in my car, but on Friday I graduated with an M.A. And this isn’t earth-shattering and it isn’t amazing and it’s barely even interesting in some circles, but it’s enough to blow me right out of the water, because it’s proof. Proof that nobody can tell me lives don’t turn around, people don’t change, or that some are just born losers, to die unchanged.

You see this picture? It says one thing. It says “there is hope in every lost cause.”

There’s hope in every single one of your lost causes, in human form or any form, I can promise you that.

And that’s a damn nice thing to know.

Thanks for traveling this road with me, you keep me rollin’ on.

with love,


24 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | May 26, 2013
  • dixiebelle

    Awesome work. On the mothering. On the graduating. On the rollin’ on.

  • Roxanna Smith

    you’re awesome. way to go. sorry about the camping trip…thanks for your honesty. makes me laugh, sympathize and feel better about my boo hoo attitude all at the same time. XO

  • Vicky


    Great, great job! That diploma is worth 1,000 vomited purses and more!

    Love, love, love and all my good vibes to ya!

    Ps, sorry, I love graduates. lol

  • Heather

    YAAAAAY!!! CONGRATULATIONS SO SO much!! You deserve it! You worked your ass off! You are so much of an inspiration. You accomplished more than many people can. Taking care of your family, on top of working, getting an M.A., dealing with puke, and writing for us folks…you inspire me!! you seriously ROCK. Fuck yeah!! Sorry, this is too good for the word fuck to not be here. 😉 No camping for us this weekend. Lots of rain, and no open camp grounds. Whatever…

  • monstergirlee

    Congratulations Lady! That is HUGE!!!

    btw – Number 5 – btdt. It happens. Don’t beat yourself up too badly about it.

    also BTW – CONGRATS to you.

  • kstohl

    shit i just want that photo of the 5 of you on my refrigerator. forever. i love you all! but mostly you for sticking it out and finishing your goal. you are such an inspiration. lubju!

  • Tela

    all the congrats to you! you deserve them!

  • Sam Kidd

    Congratulations.Magnificent. But the vomit will still come your way.Try to really have fun now.

  • Tina

    Congratulations on your degree! You should be so proud of yourself, doing this next to looking after 3 kids, working and everything else. I couldn’t have done it, of that I’m sure.
    And look at how proud your family looks in that picture!
    About the camping trip, that sure sucks, and I would have reacted exactly the same way as you have. I hope our little holiday that we have planned in July won’t turn out like that, because I haven’t been away for like…over 4 years! But you reminded me not to have to many expectations, because you just don’t know what’s gonna happen. You’ll have another trip soon, hopefully, so you can catch up and have a lovely time together. You’ll see.

  • Amy

    I’m not sure what I’m more impressed by: the graduating or the not mangling anyone due to vomit-y sleeping bags. “Puke purse- carry it when you just need people to go the fuck away.”

    Both are impressive efforts. 🙂

  • Jessica

    Congratulations. It IS impressive and you deserved that camping trip! Vomit happens at the most inappropriate moments. Looking from the outside in, you have a beautiful life. Perfect doesn’t make beautiful, messy does. It’s all those messy, chaotic, vomit-in-the-tent-at-4am moments that make the big picture so PURDY 🙂


  • Shan

    I just love you. That is all.

  • Stella

    I found your blog some months back when I googled “I should take a break from Soul Mama” and have been in love ever since! (Soul Mama is back in my good graces, btw;) Thank you for this internet space, where we are all free to grow and laugh and through an occasional pity party! Sending a big congratulations to you. You are inspiring woman to be honest about life and love and motherhood, and that is a beautiful thing. You’re magic!

  • Kate

    Tenacity. The first requirement for parenting and degrees. You do it well despite the disappointment. You are right about the Shakespeare/Buddhist bit. Lower your expectations, let life be more of a pleasant surprise. Congratulations on the graduation, that’s yours forever; forget the vomit, it comes and goes. Ya done good for yourself all the way around. Every day you grow. It’s good.

  • Momtothree

    Been a reader (and occasional commenter) for about a year now, I reckon. And I’ve laughed and cried reading your words. You’ve done so well, fighting the fight, keepin’ it rolling along, despite the doubts, the exhaustion, the extra load. Ya done good, Honey.
    Be proud, relish the moment. There will definitely be more vomit, crap and all the rest of it, sure as eggs is eggs. But also, the smiles, the drawings stuck on the fridge, the hugs when you need them, and the pudgy little hands touching your face. And that my, dear, is what makes the whole deal worth it. Be happy.

  • lisaeggs

    Hey, congratulations! The camping trip is a bummer, but what a great thing to finally have that M.A.! I am really happy for you. Going over to listen to the podcast… Much love xoxoxo

  • Stephanie


  • C Smith

    Yay! Way to go! I may print this picture out and keep it for inspiration. I’m working on my degree, slowly, painfully. This year I managed to get a lousy 6 credits closer.

  • Kateri Von Steal



  • Breezy

    You rock! Seriously awesome!

  • Jennifer Sassaman

    you look incredibly beautiful!! also it is a huge accomplishment! congrats!

    Jennifer “MFA” sassaman

  • lisa

    Congratulations! And thanks for doing what you do. As a soon-to-be mom for the first time, I have really enjoyed (and will continue to enjoy) your writing.

  • Donna Boucher

    You are pretty amazing!!!
    The picture is wonderful.

  • HeronSister

    Just listened to the podcast. Enjoyed it! I love the truth and reality. And for someone who spent 28 years in the US and the last 13 in the UK, I just loved hearing American accents again. Shallow, maybe, but it’s good to touch in to my roots.

    Well done for knowing when to stick it out (the degree) and when to quit (vomit on the sleeping bags at 4.00 a.m.)!