I wish they’d stop calling this “sacred.”

by Janelle Hanchett

I’m feeling ill-equipped for motherhood lately. I can’t stop being an asshole to my kids.

I’m yelling too much. My patience is almost always already gone.

I lose it over nothing. Them. Being kids. Doing annoying kid things. Leaving their shoes on the couch one more time. The 5th time I have to ask him to get dressed. The bickering again about the dishes. The flailing in the back seat.

I know it’s me, you know. I know it’s my exhaustion and profound discomfort and the weight of this baby on my back and bladder and heart.

I realized the other day I haven’t had time to love this baby. Does that make me a monster? That probably makes me a monster. I feel distant, disconnected. Though I feel her (him?) against the deepest swells of my body, and the little pushes and jabs comfort me, I only barrel forward through the days. I only wonder how it’s possible to pee so many fucking times a night. I wonder how many thoughts can awaken me at 4am. I wonder why I screw around on my phone until 10:30pm when my whole self needs only sleep. Maybe it’s the privacy, the silence. Maybe I’m just not equipped for adult life. Maybe the responsible decision will always elude me. Or it will sometimes, at night, when I should be asleep.

I want to settle down and wonder at my baby.

I feel the weight when I rise, go down, roll over in bed. Every time I get up I wonder how so simple a task could be so hard. The pressure shifts. My joints barely cooperate.

My kids drain me. That’s pretty much all.

I do it one more time. I do it a hundred more times.

I should be in better shape. I should have taken better care of myself. I should eat better.renegademothering.com disaster

You think I’m feeling sorry for myself.

I am, though it doesn’t manifest in inactivity. I wake up in the morning and think “I can’t.”

But I do.

Not because I’m some fucking martyr, but because there’s no other choice. It’s a job. You get up and fucking do it.

I look at the calendar and wonder how much longer. How much longer will I be teaching these classes? Standing for hours at a time. Standing until my hip and thigh go numb. I took on too much, I guess. I took on too much but we need the money. A woman in Austria told me pregnant women get 8 weeks standard time off before the baby comes. I went to Austria. Austria is nice. Do they take Americans?

They say “You should feel blessed and lucky to be 30 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby.”

What a lovely family you have.

What a sacred thing.

Well, it doesn’t feel sacred now, motherfucker.

It feels like work. Grueling, brutal work. It feels like relentless work, like the kind that robs you of your air and laughter and body. It feels like taunting teasing heavy heavy labor.

I wish they’d stop calling it sacred.

I wish they’d stop talking about motherhood like it’s some sort of gentle rainbow across a bucolic meadow. I wish they’d stop telling women like me who are barely doing it that “motherhood is the most important job in the world.”

Is that true? Is that really true? Then what does it mean that I suck right now? What does it mean that I just cannot pull it together and I probably won’t for at least 2 more months?

I am failing my kids. Myself. My husband.


The weight of the souls of 3 kids. Their futures. Their whole beings: It rests on me, right now, ME this broken human who hurts and took on too much and can’t or won’t do much of anything beyond getting through, barely, trying not to get mad today, to keep it under control when all I want is for it to end – RIGHT NOW – this pregnancy – this job – the finances and futures and laundry – I’m crushed under it all (And what were we thinking anyway? And will it be worth it and how will we handle it all?)

Are these lives really on my shoulders, right now? Am I all there is?


No. I don’t think I am, and I wish you’d stop making that shit up.

The fact is that motherhood is important, and my role in the lives of my kids cannot be diminished or overlooked or ignored, but it’s also a fact that sometimes humans suck and my kids will be just fine.

Sometimes this shit is sacred.


Sometimes it’s day after day of just pulling through and wondering when things will chill the fuck out again. Sometimes it’s wondering what exactly you were thinking. Sometimes it’s searching for the meaning in all this work, just like any other job.

Only with this job, you’re raising America. With this job, you break souls. With this job, the world looks at you and yells “YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF. Figure it out.”

Do you realize how insane that is? We tell women “motherhood is the most important job in the world” but then bash them for struggling with it.


Incidentally, it’s not the most important job in the world.

Let it go, people.

I am a mother, but I am a whole lot of other things, and right now, I am a woman who is totally and completely NOT FEELING IT.

Will that ruin my kids? Probably not.

Will that crush their little hearts? Doubt it.

Rather, they’ll probably learn that people struggle sometimes and battle personal demons and sometimes you don’t get the “best” version of a person. You get a piece of them. You get glimpses. You feel their love in splintered fragments, as it’s always been, because this is humanity. These are humans. This is as good as it gets for us.

Right now, I am the mother who doesn’t read stories.

I am the mother who can’t cuddle for more than a minute or two.

I’m the mother not tucking you in…getting you late to school, letting you watch too much TV, feeding you questionable dinners.

I’m the mother who doesn’t want to hear stories or endless toddler questioning and “what happened at school today?”

I’m the mother who doesn’t care.

I’m the mother not RSVP-ing to parties, forgetting commitments, not helping with projects.

I am the one irritated with the way the kids eat, the one telling them to brush their teeth because damn! That breath. Foul little creatures, really.

I am the mother finished, demolished, pulling herself up with nothing.

I go to bed.


I’m the mother in bed, who lies down at night and feels the weight of all these things, hears her own yells rattling in her gray brain, wishes she could be a woman who holds her fucking tongue and lets it go.

To preserve the sacred family. To stop messing with goddamn rainbow meadow and shit.

In 5 years she’ll be 16 years old. My first, nearly grown.

I turn my giant body and flinch at the pain of my back, and that thought.

In 10 weeks my toddler will gaze into the face of a new baby. She stomps in each morning “Can I cuggle (cuddle) with you?” I hold her though my bladder protests violently. In 10 weeks a baby will be in this bed too. Where will she fit? There will be times I cannot hold her. There will be times she is not the center anymore.

I close my eyes and hold those mornings.

I listen to my son breathe as he sleeps on my husband’s chest. I wonder how his first 2 weeks of homeschool went.

I realize it’s 5:30am.

I’m so tired.


I wish my love were enough, enough to make me the kind of mom who doesn’t cave sometimes, into some place only time can dissolve. I wish my love were enough to make me “strong enough” or good enough or pure enough or whatever the fuck it is that makes women capable of doing all this and feeling all this and finding themselves pinned to the ground by life and still, not yell at their kids. Turn off. Shut down. Crawl away.

Yesterday I read them The Tale of Tom Kitten.

Today maybe I will make some stir-fried chicken.

In 10 weeks I’ll birth a baby and find myself reborn too, with a gush of waters I’ll enter this family carrying a new extension of my heart, my blood, my life.

I’ll watch my family enfold him as they’ve done me, and I’ll kiss their heads with a whisper of thank you, for holding me as I trudge humanity. Motherhood. The shattered sacredness of today.


because they look like little rocker warriors.

because they look like little rocker warriors.


  • Stephanie

    When I was 32 weeks pregnant with my twins, I went into premature labor. I actually BEGGED the doctors to take them out, telling them, “They’ll be fine. I’m sure.” But they wouldn’t. I didn’t think I could drag myself around another day. But I held on a few more weeks (I have no idea how, but I did). It’s almost over. Hang in there!

  • Amanda Farough

    There’s a resonating “hell to the motherfucking YES” rattling around in my skull right now, but it’s not of a “you-go-girl” affirmation. It’s more of a deep release.

    Because, this can be me, too. These can be my days, when I have deadlines to focus on and all I can do is park my kids in the living room with Netflix on in the background and toys scattered to the four corners of this kidpocalypse. That can be my shattered patience and my irritation of the deep reverence of motherhood, when all I want to do is run the fuck away from it all.

    But. We don’t, do we? We get out of bed in the morning with steely resolve and muster the fucking strength to just get it done. (Whatever it happens to refer to that day.)

    So, here I am, holding a digital lighter next to yours in solidarity. It can be utter shit, but at least there’s a community of us going through similar journeys.

    And hey. Let’s hug sometime on the internet. Maybe drop some f-bombs and scandalize the neighbours.

    xo, A

  • Susan

    I really appreciated your honesty in this article. I often feel the way you described and I am not pregnant. I am a mother and I am in recovery and I could really relate. Thanks for sharing.

  • Elizabeth Bowen

    I’m just going to sit here and cry a bit at the raw honesty of your posts.

    From the daughter of a mother who often felt like she was barely doing it too…. your kids will be fine. Might feel the need for some therapy, but don’t we all.

  • Sara

    This is me right now. And ‘m not even pregnant!

    I need to pause time for a week. Sleep half of it, do nothing while awake the other half. Then maybe I could do this stay-at-home-mothering day in, day out. Maybe?

  • BP

    Wow – how did you just post exactly what I’m feeling and I don’t even know you? I am tearing up because it’s so true. Thanks for sharing the realities of this thing called motherhood.

  • One Funny Motha

    You said it, sister. I feel the exact same way. All.the.Time. And I’m not even pregnant. Pregnancy is hard esp. with other kids around. And, no, we can’t be our “best” selves all the time. We do the best we can. That’s all we can do.

  • Donna Colmenero

    I love your honesty and thank you so much for sharing. I can’t imagine what it’s like to already have 3 kids that count on you so much for everything and have your body working on overdrive trying to fuel it with everything you need to do this for the 4th time… ooouufff! As they say here in Montreal… COURAGE!

    I see so many women these days letting it all out, which I think is awesome… better out than in! The pregnancy culture has certainly changed though. My mom felt super alone while raising 3 kids with an unsupportive husband and MIA family, but these days I’m happy to see women are more honest with their feelings regarding mothering and blogs like yours that are increasing in popularity & supportive mommy culture.

    On the flipside, I’m 34 weeks pregnant with my first, and I sometimes feel guilty that this is the most boring pregnancy ever. I’m not that uncomfortable and I basically sneezed and got pregnant. Here in Quebec we get a tonne of benefits that enable me to stay home after 5 months (preventative leave they all it)and extra benefits for dads so they can stay home for at least 5 weeks post-partum. It’s a sweet deal and I don’t take it for granted. Meanwhile I’ve got friends that have been trying for years to get pregnant, have had miscarriages at 4.5 months, breaking up with boyfriends and dealing with dying family members… and I feel like an asshole because things are going okay in my life. Nobody really wants to share with me their hurt or pain because I guess they don’t feel like I can understand what they’re going through. But just cause it’s not so hard now, doesn’t mean it always was or always will be. I would probably lose my shit completely if any one of those things happened to me. I wish I knew the right things to say to those that are suffering so I could just fix it for them… But I guess for now I’ll just keep loving them. What else can you do?

    Sending you loving vibes and empathy,

  • JC

    Thank you, again, for your honesty. This really resonates with me “Do you realize how insane that is? We tell women “motherhood is the most important job in the world” but then bash them for struggling with it.”

    I feel awful day in and day out because I yell too much, use the boob tube as a babysitter far too often because I cannot take the endless chatter, or my having to repeat myself so fucking often I hate the sound of my own voice. I too stay up way too late because the silence feels so cozy wrapped around me, yet I am short-changing my body, my mind.

    Yes, I asked for this child, I asked to be a mom, but I struggle so much with the mind-numbing boredom that comes from the endless hours of doing the same fucking thing over and over. People can understand why postal workers lose it, the mail never stops coming, but the same understanding is not given to mothers. At least the mail doesn’t fucking backtalk you, constantly harass the pets, or wake you up multiple times a night because “sleeping is boring”.

    I look at awe and incredulity at women who profess that motherhood is sacred and the best thing that ever happened to them. Those that don’t yell, or who stay at home with their kids, like I do, but find it so fulfilling.

    Yes, I adore my daughter and am so grateful to have her, but damn, caring for her, keeping her savage little 4 year old self alive, and trying to civilize her is so hard my dream vacation is to go somewhere where it is dark 24 hours a day and NO ONE SPEAKS TO ME unless they are bringing me food. Loving your child and hating parenting is not mutually exclusive.

    Staying at home is literally driving me crazy. After nearly seven years of sobriety I am hitting a wall of despair so hard I am doing everything I can just to get out of bed and deal with the one kid I have. Quitting drinking was the easiest thing I ever did compared to my day to day life right now. When I need to surround myself with people who understand the most, I am pulling away and isolating.

    So when I am sitting in a class of preschoolers and their moms today and I am snapping at my kid who is doing everything but what the class is doing and I get hard stares of contempt, I alternately want to smack the fuck out of those faces and crawl inside myself and die.

    Clearly I needed to read this today. You rock.

    P.S.- I read this book last year and it hit me square between the eyes. Such truth.


    • Joyelle

      “my dream vacation is to go somewhere where it is dark 24 hours a day and NO ONE SPEAKS TO ME unless they are bringing me food”. I am soooo there with you! That sounds awesome!

    • Denise

      Hell yeah! Dream vacation! 🙂

  • Heather Holter

    Thanks for the honesty. Brave to actually say, because I bet most mom’s feel this way but are too ashamed or afraid to admit they are just going through the motions trying to get through another day and are frustrated or short with their kids most of the time. They pretend it’s all daisies and roses when in actuality we ALL struggle through, at least sometimes!

  • Mudder

    Being raised in a family of 8 kids, plus most of us homeschooled, I saw first-hand that motherhood was dirty, tiring, and most of the time, unacknowledged work. My mother was no saint, and when she was mad, you learned to stay the fuck away from her! No matter how many times we were yelled at, or punished; we knew she was frustrated because she loved us so much but was overwhelmed by life.

    So don’t be so hard on yourself. Just because to don’t size up to the so called perfect “Mom” that society says you should be, doesn’t mean that you are wrong. Your posts shout out that you’re not perfect, and I see how many moms are replying that they aren’t too. I only have one kid, and I dread rolling out of bed because I know that the day is going to be trying.

    You keep it real, and I really appreciate and admire you for that! That is the best thing you can do for your kids. No matter how crazy the day is, as long as they go to bed knowing that their mom loves them, then you did a great job!

    (P.S. Being raised in such a crazy family insured us all not to have kids till be were in our twenties and in stable a relationship /marriage.)

  • Jolene

    This is the reason I dont want to go back to work even though I have a 7 month old. I have 2 older kids and they never get the best of me. how badly will they suffer if I have to go to work?
    You are awesome

  • Ash

    Im speechless. All I can give you in response to this is a stupid, “YES…all of that…all the time.. forever and ever…afuckingmen”. This shit is hard. And I wish I could be a little less stupid in my response to show my appreciation for someone finally writing the goddamned truth.

  • Shenoa

    I read this whole post nodding and mumbling “yup”. Then your last two paragraphs rolled onto the screen and my eyes pricked. Your truth touches my truth and the tears flow. Thank you.

  • Lornadoone1972

    HEAR, HEAR!!

  • Mary Widdicks

    I couldn’t agree more. Whoever said pregnancy was a beautiful thing was either: a sadist, a liar, a man, or some combination of all three.

  • Tina

    Hi Janelle. Again, you put in words how I feel every day. Apart from the pregnancy thing though, because even though my hormones tell me they want another one, I am so not ready for it. Don’t think I ever will be.
    I know you’re feeling rough, but sharing your thoughts here makes me feel so much better every time. I feel inadequate as a mum, in my job, everything really. I too find myself yelling at the kids constantly and feeling like shit when I think about it. I know I should look after myself better, do some Yoga, eat more healthily,…..but every day I just try to get through the day somehow, because I have no fucking energy left for anything else. So thanks, as always for sharing. It helps to see I’m not alone.
    And PLEASE do come to Austria – we can be shit together! And eat Nutella out of the jar. I’ll be your fucking doula if you want. 😉

  • Sue

    I love this and I love your willingness to speak the truth. My kids are a bit older and there are only two of them, but there have been lots of moments of regret, of falling short, of doing a shitty job. Sometimes doing our best doesn’t look all that great and other times it looks okay, so we keep trying. Sounds like your plate is pretty full right now, cut yourself some slack where you can. And please keep writing, we need you as an antidote for all of “sunshine and roses” blogs out there!

  • Kari

    For me, 4 kids, Full time job, Hubby with depression. I’m exhausted. Would love to be hooting aloud on the back of some hot young unattached military boy’s crotch-rocket on the way to a Parisian rent-by-hour motel for a quickie. But instead. Will get up. Take one big breath. And race through another Parenting Wednesday/Anyday. This shit is NOT sacred on most of the days. At least I’m not pregnant on top of it. Good Luck Janelle! Agape love to you, and your children and husband. And hopefully, to mine, too. Please keep writing.

  • Joyelle

    At 4am this morning, as I struggled with a diaper full of pee that had exploded all over my son, myself and his bedroom, I was chanting “this is bullshit!” over and over. I feel your pain, and thank you for writing about it so honestly and beautifully.

  • Alyssa

    Thank you for this. It resonated with me on so many levels. I am a new mom and I constantly battle with my guilt over not having a beautiful pregnancy, not enjoying 1 second of it. My 1 1\2 year old daughter is a miracle and blessing that I wouldn’t change for anything. Everyday is a struggle that no amount of advice came close to addressing. I wish I could of read this post a year ago and need to read it every week to align myself with acceptance of who I am as a mother, woman and a minicule slice of humanity.

    Thanks again for being honest and open with your life. 🙂

  • Sara Howard


  • Kat

    You speak the truth, as always. And your truth is much like so many of ours. I’m so tired of the ‘perfection’ standard for being a Mom. I work because I tried staying home and I was HORRIBLE at it. I was miserable and my kid was miserable. So now I work, am happy and healthy and we get most of our shit done. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes not. People ask, how do you do it all. And I say, because if I don’t you wouldn’t want to be around me.

    Now my mantra ‘Rise above the Chaos’. If I can do that on a majority basis, we’re doing ok. And even then, sometimes we fail. Luckily each minute/hour/day/month/year is a new one.

  • Kate Douglas

    Lady, your brutal honesty is so refreshing!

    You write all the things I feel, but am too scared to admit to anyone.

    Thank you for that!

  • Denise

    YES. I needed this today. You expressed what I’ve been feeling but couldn’t articulate. I sent this to my husband so he can understand more how I feel.
    And he says to me ‘I have to give you credit- you start each day trying to be a good mom. I don’t even try.’
    So, A for effort? Even if it’s only for 5 minutes?!

  • Jennifer

    Sorry to hear you’re struggling. It sounds like you might be suffering from clinical depression, not just the trials and tribulations of life and motherhood. And depression is serious fucking business. It’s as serious as a heart attack, and it’s a crisis and medical emergency when you’re pregnant and have 3 other kids depending on you.

    I grew up with a depressed mom and despite knowing she did her best, the scars her condition left on me are lifelong. It was scary seeing her so tired, distant and worn down all the time. It made me feel terrified and helpless, though I never expressed it. As I grew older, it turned into resentment that she wasn’t the mom I needed her to be. I know how guilty she felt. I felt guilty too. And I know now, intellectually, that it wasn’t her fault, but it’s hard if not impossible to let go of the memories of pain, anger and confusion I carried for so many years.

    You’re absolutely right, simply loving your kids is unfortunately not enough. I would rather have spent less time with my mom overall in favor of her being truly present and in genuine good spirits when she was with me.

    I certainly don’t intend to make you feel any more guilty than you probably already do; I would just implore you to take a radical, ruthless approach to focusing on your own health and well-being during this critical time. I would suggest treating the way you’re feeling with the same urgency as if you were literally drowning, because in fact it sounds like you are.

    Chronic untreated depression can be toxic and eventually lethal because it wreaks havoc in so many insidious ways. You deserve time for yourself, to spend time bonding with your baby on the way, and your baby deserves you. If it means hiring help and taking on debt to get some regular, quality time to yourself, then so be it. Consider it an investment in your and your family’s health and happiness. Beg, borrow and steal the time that you and your new baby need. Seriously.

    You can deal with finances down the line, but you’ll never get a second chance to raise young kids with the attention and energy they need from you. Remember what it feels like to feel good, so that you can pass that on to your children. Otherwise what’s the point of it all?

    Wishing you the best!

  • Kate

    I feel like this too. I’m not pregnant but I have a 3(almost 4) year old and a 13 week old. My 13 week old is a happy baby, life is not that hard and yet I feel like I’m barely hanging on. I’m short with my 3 year old, and I yell at him, and I don’t even WANT to play with him, even when I have the time to.
    I feel like a horrible mother. Each day after he goes to bed I think about how today should have been better, how I should have been better. then I vow to be happier, and nicer the next day but that lasts all of about 5 minutes. He’s going to remember this. That his mom snapped at him all the time and was no fun. I don’t know how to turn it around.
    And you want to know the hilarious part of it all? I’m an early childhood educator. I work with children AS A JOB. And yet my own kid drives me crazy.

  • Kateri Von Steal

    I’ve been away for quite a while. I cannot believe you are 30 weeks along.

    I’ve been an awful Blogfriend.

    I was away, because of some of the above things. I was so overwhelmed, and angry.. I was yelling at my kid, at my fiance… I was pushing everything away…

    You are conscious that you are doing it… so that put you eons ahead of most people.

    Hormones suck.. but, you are doing the best you can, and that, my friend, is good enough.


  • jill (mrs chaos)

    I’m finally getting around to comment. (Happy Birthday, by the way. Love you.)

    Good GOD sometimes motherhood sucks. And then sometimes, it just doesn’t. You have the sucktastic to know what the wonderful looks like. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the ONLY way we know what wonderful looks like.

    The wonderful’s coming.

  • Vicki

    All you gotta be is whole and I think wholeness becomes you. You echo sentiments I can hardly articulate. Just hit the 30 week mark myself. This shit’s hard and I only have 1 other critter human.
    But like I said, wholeness. That’s what the kids need most. A mama who honors it all and that, my internet friend, that you have nailed.

  • Lara

    I so appreciate this post. It perfectly describes how I have been feeling….its nice to see that I’m not the only one plodding through the days, doing the same things over and over….with no end in sight. I think the hardest part is that I’m so fucking tired….I just want one night to sleep the sleep of the childless.

  • Mel

    I should be making the responsible decision and researching child care options for next year (have to change cos of longer hours at work next year – boo!) but fuck that shit. I’m reading you instead cos I wanted to feel the soul twang tonight. And I did. Cos you’re awesome (and I almost never use that over-used word). As for the palaver about fucking kids up cos we’re not always totally ‘present’ (good intentions with that word but it really shits me to tears), that’s all it is: bollocks. I reckon it’s great that our kids see us as not perfect. The message (we’re supposed to be ‘imparting messages’ all the time aren’t we?? Bleugh!) then is, it’s ok kid. Not being perfect is ok. In fact, for humans, it’s mandatory.

  • Lydia

    I totally agree… Even though I’m only on baby2 (with a 16 month “hemorrhoid”, whom I love dearly), it’s the same feeling among all us Stay-at-home-crazies. I mean we “MUST BE CRAZY” to make that type of severe choice! I’m 25? weeks along, I haven’t even been keeping track of this pregnancy. We also chose not to know the sex… NO NOT TEAM GREEN! If I hear that one more time, I will cut a ‘grass skirt wearing, incense burning, woo hoo stick waving, judgmental’ Biatch!!!
    Fortunately, the one thing that has kept me 1/10 sane is going to a chiropractor that specializes in all things maternity!!! AMAZZZZZIIIINNNGGG! Adjusts my hips and pelvis to allow more room for that parasite, I mean baby in my angry uterus. I get hydrotherapy, which is the most awesome waterbed you will ever lay on… (i’m pretty sure they can all hear me humming and moaning while I’m on it)After only 3 weeks of therapy I am feeling like the pregnant woman I was with the first pregnancy… All giddy and clueless (not really). But you know how you enjoy every stupid minute of it when you are naïve to your 1st pregnancy… I’m not half the crazy bitch I was in the beginning and would say I’m almost 25% more pleasing to be around.
    Try it out!!! You may find yourself falling in love with pregnancy all over again…. Or at least make your last trimester tolerable… 🙂

  • Melinda



  • Summer

    I’m just going to keep you in my back pocket, so I can pull you out whenever I feel like I’m the only mom struggling out here. Thanks for keeping it real.

  • Jessica Rabon

    If it weren’t for the number of kids this could’ve been me writing this.
    I have this article pinned to my homepage of my phone for reference and sometimes to put into the right words of how I’m feeling and I’m not the only one feeling that way.

  • Karyn

    Just re-reading this crying. You’re my go to when I need to quiet the voices that tell me I’m not grateful, glowing, happy enough pregnant mum. Loving my kid (soon to be kids ????) is enough people, why do you need me to love every fucking moment too!

    That feels better.

    Thanks for being real.

  • Jamie

    “The shattered sacredness of today.” Dear god, that is beautiful. Thank you. And they do look like little rocker warriors, holding hands, like we all need to be.