So the kids are back in school

by Janelle Hanchett

I really want to write a coherent and spellbinding blog post on some sort of topic – you know, how I usually do (ha.ha.ha) – but I’m finding myself somewhat without a brain.

It happens occasionally. It’s like my brain detaches from my body for a bit and I find myself going through the motions of my life with a bit of numbness. Kind of a lack of opinions, if you can imagine such a thing.

Also, perhaps the dumpster fire of our country is playing a tiny role in my apathy. It’s like I spend so much of my day wondering HOW THE FUCK people can say things like “Trump isn’t racist and supporting him is a step toward equality for all.”

I think my brain has had to detach from my body to avoid exploding. Like it’s all get me the hell outta here until things improve.

So then I try to not read the Twitter and Facebook but that goes terribly because I’m addicted.


Anyway, my oldest kid started high school. This feels so profoundly wrong on so many levels. First of all, where the fuck did the last 15 years go, and why did nobody tell me it goes this fast?


Three years. I get three more years until she moves out. We’re trying to bribe her to stay. We told her we’d buy her a car if she stays at home and goes to community college. Any day now I’m going to figure out how to afford to buy her a car.

When I was pregnant with her at 22, I used to imagine the day she graduated from high school. I used to imagine her as a teenager, and I’d think it was so far off it probably wasn’t real. It felt so distant it was irrelevant.  

And now here we are.

And Rocket is in his last year of grammar school. Next year he starts middle school. Then he’s going to be a teenager too, and you know what? I have some opinions on that (OH THERE I AM): Hormones highjack our kids and turn them into intermittently intolerable nutjobs.

And that hurts. A lot. I watch it happening. I know it’s right and healthy and good.

Also, are hormones my excuse? As far as the intermittently intolerable nutjob thing goes?

But seriously, there’s a heaviness that comes, an adult-ness, and it creeps in and takes over and I know it’s about detachment and growing, and I know text-bantering with my teenager and relating to her on a more “friend” level is actually FUN, and watching her become herself is downright miraculous, but also, it fucking hurts watching them go.

You know?

And Rocket is almost there. I feel it. I see it. I want to scream “Nooooooo” until maturity changes its mind and I get to keep my little boy. Bah.

George started second grade, which was one of my favorite years in school, and I can handle that.

Arlo is three. He’s either the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life or a naked tyrant screaming on the kitchen floor because his frivolous wants are not being met.

Come to think of it, the three-year-old and teenagers have a lot in common.

Maybe I’m just feeling the weight of time moving on, as we head into a new school year, but also I think I’m pretty fucking tired of driving kids around in circles all damn day. Like “school year” means a lot of mundane routine, back IN IT, the SHIT. I’m always about half interested in these tasks, the way life becomes so FAST and BUSY and INTENSE. I suppose if I were a better, more devoted mother I would get really excited about sitting in “car line” and remembering folders and lunches and other such complexity.

Plus, the talking. The talking in the car. The car talking. The four kids car talking.

This morning I told my friend “I spend a good portion of my life pretending to give a shit what my kids are saying.” I DON’T MEAN THAT. Okay I kind of mean that.


I don’t do that. Of course I sit in riveted fascination, hanging on their every word, because it all goes so quickly, you know?

 I’ll just let you decide what’s happening.

Anyway, they’re cute though, and I’m glad they’re here, and I’m here, and you’re here.

Much love to all of you affected by the floods in Texas. Thinking of you. Tell me how you are.

And happy fucking school year guys! We’re so good at this!

Arlo thought he was going to school too. Hence the lunchbox. I didn’t break it to him that he was in pajamas.

20 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | August 30, 2017
  • rose

    Two seniors in college and just sent my 2 youngest to college this week. We did managed to make the community college thing happen ( I mean seriously – 4 kids college? no other way in my book), so I got them all for an extra two years, but holy crap how come no one told me this is the hard part? It’s all hard ( and amazing and fascinating and annoying and wonderful and a pain) but…..the ending hard, the letting go hard; is REALLY hard!

  • Madelief

    I’m so sad that we live on opposite ends of the country. We would get along in so many ways….so would our toddlers and teens. They could go climb trees and play with matches while we sit in the shade and pretend to watch them, while really we are taking naps behind our sunglasses. Thank you for hanging out in my inbox.

    • Lucy

      Love this and all the folks who follow you. So glad to find a tribe that is normal (wait are we?). We all embrace the good, the bad and the ugly!

  • Peggy

    Love all this!
    Ours are 39,35,22,20 and13!
    It’s all hard!
    Your so on point about the car! Please let me out!
    Granddaughter that I babysit is 3 by the way!

  • KT WhitWat

    God, I feel this too. The hurry up AND the wait. The desire for stop AND go at the same time. What a juxtaposition of intense emotions motherhood gives us. Always love the way you say it, and the way it makes me feel less alone. Onward…

  • Geo

    As always darling, well said. You’ve expressed the beautiful agony better than I can think it. I took my 10 year old to school with my 1 month old sitting next to her this morning. I want some damn alone time but I also want to wallow in the baby/kid wading pool before it dries up.

    • renegademama

      One month old! Congratulations! I want one.

      No I don’t.


      • Mariek

        Yes, I want one but I DON’T.

        I feel I might not survive another one but my arms ache and my nose is trying to snif out the last of the baby(isch) smell on my toddler, my entire body is saying “I WANT one”.

        But I don’t, but I DO

    • CEEP

      Geo I so get it! Why can’t this shit be more evened out? All the sleepless nights are bunched up together which makes us want to hurry to the next stage. If the hard times were buffered by some easy times life would be so much better. Like sprinkle some of the no sleep days between the learning to ride a bike days, or throw in a couple of teaching them to read days in with the teething days.

      I don’t want infants again but I would really enjoy visiting those times again for a day or two.

  • CEEP

    I sobbed off and on for the first two weeks of August. I work full time outside the home so I don’t see my kids all day anyway but summers are so much more laid back for us with two 10 yr olds and a 13 yr old. But it’s not just that. It’s the fact that my youngest two are in 5th grade now and my oldest is in 8th. Next year there will be no elementary school AND we will be navigating high school. And my babies are growing up. I feel like I didn’t stop to enjoy their stages enough. I feel like I missed the whole fucking parenthood thing. Too much hurrying. Hurrying to get to soccer, hurrying to get home, hurrying to do homework, hurrying to get through the week so the weekend would come. Soon I’m going to be a pathetic empty nester whose life falls apart because the kids are grown. I keep telling myself to get some hobbies to do without the kids so I will transition easier but then that’s time spent away from the kids. Don’t get me wrong; they drive me mother fucking nuts but I feel like I’m away from them so much being at work all week and ever since my mom passed a year ago I realized how short life is and I’m just wanting to make as many memories as possible with them. The feels. They’re all fucked up and bouncing around. Why do I have to start being pre-menopausal when my kids are making such big transitions? That’s total shit right there.

  • Peggy

    Your kids are fiercely gorgeous and I wish more people were like them.

  • MaryEl

    Oh so hard to listen to all they have to say! And so good that you at least try… If you listen to them then they will listen to you. At least I would like to think it works that way!

  • Elysium

    Love this as always. I am knee-deep in it with a three-year-old (going on 15!) and a baby, so I definitely feel the desire for them to grow up and be independent but maybe not quite so quickly!

    Might I recommend an app for the social media addiction? It’s called Moment. It keeps track of how often you are on your phone and the results are disturbing/enlightening. I downloaded it not long ago, and it’s already cut my screen time quite a bit.

  • Carly

    My daughter’s first day of kindergarten picture includes her brother in his pyjamas because he needed a first day of school picture too. (Now they’re huge and it kills me.)

  • Joanne

    My older son starts Kindergarten on Tuesday. He’s gone to the “readiness program” to get the little ones prepared for the structure so they don’t freak out too much and he loves it so much! I’m super super excited for him to start school so I can have some alone time while the 10-month-old naps, and I’m so happy he loves his teacher, but I know when it’s time to put him on that bus and watch it drive away, I’m going to bawl like a toddler.

  • CrushLily

    Here in Australia I am almost at the end of the third term of the first year of school for my eldest and my GOD I am sooo tired. And I’ve got years and years and years to go. And the school makes you do SO MUCH STUFF. I don’t remember my mother doing a costume for me in my whole school life, let alone THREE in ONE TERM like I have had to do! Its this horrible fluctuation between wanting my kid to feel included but not wanting to make any more effort than is absolutely necessary to make that happen for him. At least I am getting better at establishing his low expectations. Sigh.

  • Margaret Sky

    Ever since my daughter was born, time has sped up exponentially. I mean I literally think it’s not just my perception–time is actually going faster. If it could be measured, I’m pretty sure it would be confirmed. It kills me how I can’t hold on to any of the precious moments, and yet I so frequently spend the day waiting for bedtime! Trying to be in the moment more, which incidentally, I suck at.

    But I figured I had better actually jump on and comment, after following your blog for some 2 years! Your kids look very cute in their back-to-school attire, especially Arlo! 😉

  • Ashley Veno

    My parents also told me that they would buy me a car if I went to the college in our town. It didn’t work, but it was a nice try! They were very overbearing though and I couldn’t take another minute. Good luck with yours!

  • Spenser

    I think that before the teen years set in the kids are puppies. They love you. They want your attention and approval. But then the teen years start and WHAM! Cats. The kids are cats. They don’t need you. They don’t want your attention. They are so cool. They are CATS. Then they get into their late teens, early twenties and WHAM! They turn back into dogs with you. But different dogs. Older dogs. Wiser dogs. Dogs that you want to be equals and friends with. And miracles of miracles, they want to be equals and friends with you.

    • Peggy

      That’s a Brilliant analogy! Exactly spot on!