Do you ever grow tired of being the one who’s supposed to know?

by Janelle Hanchett

Being a parent is a truly ridiculous task. Let’s think about this for a moment: Everyone is a jackass. Everyone has major, seemingly irreversible character flaws that land us in jail at worst, in hot water with other humans at best. Nobody knows what the fuck they’re doing, and then we’re handed a tiny human who the world has decided we are totally and completely responsible for turning into a sparkling gem of humanity.

And of course, this is mostly on mothers. Let’s be real. What do we say to asshole trolls online spewing nonsensical vitriol in grammatically incorrect comments?

“What? Did your mother not love you properly?”

Sure, we’re joking. But are we fucking joking?

What do we blame for men who rape? BAD MOTHERING. “Oh, he must have been abused by his mother.” “Oh, his mother must not have loved him and now he hates women.”

Kids who shoot up schools? Bad mothers.

Kids with bad manners? Bad mothers.

Overall, nondescript assholes? Bad mothers.

I asked my husband, and he can’t recall a time when he read in a men’s website, Instagram feed, or other male-dominated platform a meme in neutral colors saying something like, “Everything a child becomes is based on a mother’s love.”


“Oh, fathers, it goes so fast. Enjoy every moment.”

“Hey Dads, you become the voices in your children’s heads.”

Nah, we just get excited when they bathe a baby or brush a kid’s hair – How devoted! How amazing!

Meanwhile, we shred mothers for not balancing work, the rearing of a child’s body, heart, and mind, household cleanliness and organization, no paid maternity leave, diminishing rights over our own bodies and increasing maternal death rates – we shred mothers for not doing all that with a goddamn smile in size 6 jeans.

Actually, size 6 is probably plus-sized among the ones who make those sorts of decisions.

Why the fuck is this all my job? And more importantly, when did we start believing we are cut out for such a thing anyway?


Today, I am tired of being the one who’s supposed to know. I am tired of being the one who can’t fuck up lest I ruin the inner children of my children, resulting in the type of people who yell at the checkout guy at Target because shit is priced too high.

I am tired of love not being enough. Of adoration and devotion and deep, deep longing for safety and serenity for my children – of that not erasing my penchant for yelling, impatience – and my indescribable need for solitude and silence.

I don’t know how to help all my kids. I don’t know how to surrender to my inability to help them.

I don’t know how to save them from themselves. I don’t know how to save them from me.

I look at their faces and I want the answers. I want to say just the right thing to set them free, and teach them truth, and help their little souls become what god or the universe meant for them to become. They feel like diamonds on loan from the cosmos. No, fuck diamonds.

Like planets that fit in my pocket.

Like whole universes and stars and gravity. Massive, ridiculous things.

And me, this tiny ball of bones and skin, standing before them and chattering on with nothing more than my own mistakes to guide them, my own fighting attempts for serenity, meaning, peace.

I know a few things. I know what honesty looks like. I know what the truth is. I know how to work hard and keep working even when you can’t. I know what loss is, what shattering grief feels like, and how fast people depart this earth.

I know what love is, that it’s built, not found, and I know we fuck it up, and hurt each other in spite of it.

I know it’s best never to leave angry. I know the fights are rarely worth it but we do it anyway. I know lasting friends are rare and sometimes, they leave too.

But I don’t know how to save my children from themselves, to wrap them in protection from their own demons, to show them how to see what their young eyes cannot yet see, what life may have to teach them through the serious of mistakes and gut-punches it offers.

And I’m tired. I’m tired of looking into myself to find just the right action, just the right words, the perfect ball of brilliance to illuminate, teach, and heal.

I’m tired of looking in and finding just me.

It’s too much, you know, what they expect of us. It’s too much to think we can do it. People pretend they can. I’ve noticed they generally have the most fucked up kids of all.

So here I am, kids. Your mother.

I think of my own mother. So desperately imperfect. So cracked in places I thought as a teenager would destroy me.

The other day I started a fight with her. I was a real asshole. The next day, I called, and she asked me out to lunch, and I cried actual tears when I said, “Yes, please, Mom. I want a do-over. I want to do that night again.” I felt like a child.

And she said, “Of course, honey.” And I thought I had never felt more loved than in that very moment.

I suppose at the last, that is what we mothers have for our children – the chance for a do-over, the chance to try again, to love through our sins, and theirs. To be loved in spite of them, even, and show up again, when nobody else does, until the tables turn and we are in their arms, asking for a final, meaningful goodbye.

Until then, we try.

I can’t always be the one who knows. I am not. But I can be the one to love you.

I’m here for the do-overs, kid. Take my hand.




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  • Lyndsy Blais

    It’s hard sometimes to admit your own imperfections. But, so important to show our kids what real unconditional love means….do-overs and love through our sins and theirs.

  • Anne

    Ugh. I love the idea of a do over. That’s going to be stuck in my head now.

  • Denise

    Preaching to the choir and speaking to my soul. There is nothing that completely levels me like my kids. I long for silence and yet I scream. I get frustrated and then I feel guilty. My husband thinks running off with them for a few hours makes it all better, but it just pisses me off more cause when do I get to run off and just have fun, next to never. Sometimes I feel like I am putting it all on myself, but then again I have to because if I don’t do it no one else will. It sucks but thanks for making me feel like I am not the only one ready to loose my mind!

    • Lainey

      When your husband takes the kids off for a few hours can you go off and have fun yourself for a few hours? A nice walk, a book, a snooze, lunch out, whatever. I would jump at the chance to do that.

  • Mae McDonnell

    Well, thanks for making me cry.

    ::sniff sniff::

  • Carolyn

    Oh so true, my kiddos are grown now and we are good, but I certainly needed to have the occasional do-over, I so recall screaming and then feeling so so guilty and out of control. You are wise and so far ahead of where i was, you recognize and can state how you feel, but I sense you have the same sense of guilt when we cannot handle one more request..

  • Kelly

    I needed this today. The reminder that others feel the immense weight of responsibility that only mothers really know, and that it’s ok to admit I am sometimes (often) resentful of it. It’s a hard gig. I’m so, so glad I found your blog.

  • anna

    Thank you! I sometimes feel like I don’t exist in my life . . only here to take care of everyone . . and it is exhausting, and then I feel guilty for even thinking that I am tired of being a mother, wife, sister, manager, . . . . It is comforting to know I am not alone.

  • Denise

    Ugh, truth. And your story about your mother made me so hungry for good mothering that it might be the final push that gets me into therapy. Dammit Janelle.

  • Julie

    This was so true and so profound I hear you completely

  • Annette

    So much truth here.

  • Jessica

    So well put – thank you <3

  • amanda

    SO needed this.

  • Amy

    Damn, Janelle! You did it again—taking the thought and emotions that I have and wording them in a way that is so real. Another thing—your kids are going to cry and laugh and love you even more when they read your words as adults.

  • Caroline Kavin

    And I hate when people say “you are enough”. Nope. I am not enough. I can’t fucking do it all. Not everyone has a village.

  • Rachel Smith

    Oh god you always make me cry!!!!

  • Iliana Olmedo

    Crying…thanks for the realnest (is that a word?) of this. Your words from my soul!

  • Victoria

    I found myself saying “everyone wants a fucking piece of me”. I read this, related and calmed down. Oh and cried a little. 🙂

  • Margaret Sky

    “Here I am kid. Your mother.” Love. But seriously, how bout us mothers being allowed to be humans and being allowed to make mistakes?

    But then, of course, it’s me who is not okay with my own shortcomings because I love my girls so damn much and it’s a terrible feeling to know I may be hurting them in some way. On the other hand, we can at least be an example of living gracefully with imperfection, with regret, with our messy humanity. Sometimes. Or something.

    Also, we are all f-ing our kids up and thank goodness because that is called job security for me. 😉 (I’m a therapist).

  • Nikki-momma

    Gawd… you are so right. Sometimes the weight of being my monkey’s momma is heavy beyond belief while also being such a thing of wonder and love. The not knowing how to help him without totally ensuring he will require a lifetime of therapy (j/k I think!), or how to truly help and guide him from own character flaws, quirkyness, and stubbornness along and his struggles with anxiety and adhd is truly painful at times! Parenting is not for the weak… I know full well that I make mistakes and am learning, and my kid knows to and he loves me anyway. And that is truly the greatest thing… do overs and awesome and just so needed! Cuz even momma make mistakes when we are stressed just like our kiddos. We are perfectly imperfect and we struggle and rage sometimes, but at the end of the day we both know that I love him more than my words can even convey. Your posts always remind me just how real and comical this whole parenting gig is… can’t wait to read the book!