Motherhood is driving around in circles.

by Janelle Hanchett

And in today’s episode of “shit nobody tells you about parenthood,” let’s talk about the amount of driving involved with this endeavor.

Could also be called, “If this is sacred, why am I so bored?”

I mean, I get it. Motherhood is a really beautiful thing. At least 14 seconds of it each day take my fuckin’ breath away.

But the rest of it feels a little more like vapid routine blended with odd smells and existential crisis.

The good news is, my sense of the hyperbolic remains intact.

So, our kids’ school is about 15 minutes away from our house. It’s a long story involving schools and where we can afford to live and blah blah blah, but the point is: My daily driving routine is something along the lines of unbridled bullshit.

For two years, I had to leave my office at 2:15pm to get my kid at 2:30pm, at which time I would sit in my car with said child or run to the store because Rocket didn’t get out until 3:05 – who the fuck invented that plan? – then I would drive across town to pick up the teenager and her carpool, circle back to my house, drop off two kids, drive back near my house to pick up the toddler, then go home.

The process took two full hours.

Then I brilliantly learned about an after-school sibling program (that’s always been around, FYI) for $40/month where your little kid can dart around a gym for 35 minutes, guarded by teenagers, waiting for their older sibling to get out of school.

The discovery was perhaps the happiest moment of my life.

So now my driving is 1.5 hours. Sometimes Mac and I share it. Those are the good days. Sometimes he does it himself. Those are the orgasmic days.

Sometimes he’s working so far away he can’t get there at all. Sometimes he’s doing that for ten months at a time.

Those are not orgasmic days.

By the time I get home after that drive, I feel like I’ve run a marathon naked in the snow. But even that would be more rewarding since at least I’d be burning calories and it’s at least weird. You know, a good story.

In between road rage, car line pick-ups, double-parked motherfuckers, the mess of my minivan – partnered with the fact that I, in fact, drive a minivan – back pain from sitting so long, bickering children, spilled milk products when I can’t even figure out where they got the fucking milk, whining demands for what music is played and WHO GOT TO PICK THE LAST SONG, the list of paperwork I’m supposed to sign as well as the shit we were supposed to turn in yesterday that I was also supposed to sign – there’s me, wondering if perhaps there was going to be more.

Or was there? I kind of signed up for this, didn’t I?

Our life is the way it is because we constructed it this way, so why am I complaining?

First, because it feels good.

Second, because I think so much of motherhood is this really vapid shit nobody talks about, tasks and routines that are so heavy and dry, just the same thing each and every day – and it’s rarely fun, and it’s not particularly rewarding, and yeah, I’ll say it, it doesn’t feel “meaningful.”

The feeling I get in these beats of motherhood – in the daily uniformity and yet never consistency because who the fuck knows what mood the toddler or teenager will be in today?

The feeling I get sometimes is that my life has become nothing.

And by extension, I have become nothing.


I don’t feel this way now, as in, this very moment. I just published a book. I just got back from a book tour.

But I began writing this blog post in March, just a couple of months ago, then abandoned it, probably because I had to drive somewhere.

How quickly things change.

How quickly things return to the same.

I’m riding the high of your messages to me, your comments that you see yourself in the book, in the depiction of motherhood I explored and worked on for two years. I worked my ass off, away from my children. I gave it everything I had, much of it alone. I worry about book sales and I’m hustling to get this book into the world’s hands, and it’s hard, and it’s all-consuming, and terrifying, but in between, I drive. I drive around in circles, and come home to a thrashed house and dinner to be made.

I drive and drive and drive.


I know that when this all dies down, I’ll find myself there, again. Back on the same old track. Wondering where I went. Wondering if I’m gone.

I think this is how it goes, back and forth, looking for ourselves in these tiny moments, often drowned out by the roar of 2 hours in a messy car, again, listening to bickering and searching for that paper we lost and realizing one kid forgot his instrument and the toddler is somehow lacking a shoe, and me, knowing somewhere this what I wanted, though I get to hate it, too, now, and maybe forever.

Thank god it’s almost summer. Thank god we just keep rolling on. Surely right around the corner it will all feel synthesized, right?


It will feel the same, but I’m glad I get to talk to you, and when you see me in my fucking minivan, you’ll know what I’m thinking. And if we see each other, we can’t be disappeared.

Maybe that’s the story I’m writing now.

Maybe that’s the story we’re all writing.


Have you checked out that book I wrote?

I wrote it for you,

that’s for damn sure. 

  • Elaine

    Remember school buses? I used to ride one. Which I suppose made my mom pretty orgasmic, because we lived on a farm far away from the schools. My kids have been out of school for a couple of years now. So now I just avoid leaving the house between 2 and 4 in the afternoon so I won’t get stuck in the traffic of parents doing what you’re doing.
    It is all temporary sweetie. Hang in there!

  • Marie

    The damn driving. And really the monotonous routine of all the necessary crap that needs to be done in order to keep the cogs turning and YET 97% of the times it goes completely unnoticed! Thanks for seeing me. I see you. We are still here.

  • Fred Genge

    Love it. As a parent, its hard to share the parts that dont shine. I appreciate you putting it out there. Helping!☺

  • Cristy M.

    Love this. My youngest, now 5, for the past three years has finished his Mother’s Day survey as follows, My Mommy’s Job is “to drive me around”. This year I got upgraded to “making macaroni and driving me places.” It drives me nuts, stresses me out but I know I will miss it one day. Another nugget no one tells you about mother hood is how you will become a camel. Constantly carrying other people’s crap. I bought myself a tiny clutch and told them if they want to leave the house with stuff they’re carrying it. My little guy now is asking for a briefcase to carry “his things.”

  • Elaine McKechnie

    At 12 o’clock child one gets out. At 3.20 child 2 gets out. At 4.15 child 3 and 4 get out across town. One at the middle school, one at the high school. If I get to the middle school in time we have devised a strategy to get ahead of the bus traffic. If not we sit in the traffic for 30+ mins. They built a school three minutes from my house and then zoned it so I still have to drive to the school 20 minutes away. Then there is all the after school stuff. Mountain biking, scouts, 4h, piano, gymnastics. My husband works offshore. Not orgasmic.

  • Breanna

    Yes. THIS!! Please tell me why they try to schedule 17 million events between 3 and 6pm the last week of school? I feel like a chicken running around with her head cut off.

    Love my moments with my kiddos, but can definitely relate!

    p.s. Loving the book so far!!!

  • Shawn Van Deusen

    I had my girls 11 years apart…Thank god!!

    Oldest back from college and into our small 2 bedroom lower apartment. My girls do not get along at all. I always wonder if they will love each other when I’m gone.

    I totally can not function in the evenings after work…It starts good at the beginning of the week and then by Thursday…total failure! LOL

  • Rosa

    Homeschooling, I can avoid some of this scheduling and driving. I still end up with crazy schedules and driving. Today one of my kids had a lesson that was only 30 min. WTF am I going to do for 30 min? What errands can I possibly run while waiting for this lesson to end with a car full of kids without running home and then immediately turning around to pick up??? I am trying to hone my double tasking abilities but I am not a superhuman. I try.

    Swimming lessons, music, art, dentist, doctors, parks, parties…

    Scheduling everyone so no one is left out and sometimes not scheduling anything at all just to recharge our batteries.

    Husband commutes and travels for work often, no taking turns for pickup or dropoff or minding kids. I’m it.

    See. There are no perfect schedules or solutions. Not better, just different, and maybe we all somehow keep our sanity without losing ourselves… or the toddler’s brand new bike helmet.

    Been looking for the damn thing since we moved!

  • Lineke

    The day both kids started going to the same school I did cartwheels down the road (not really…) The two years before, with them in schools at opposite ends of the city and work somewhere further away turned me into a multi-calendar-obsessed psycho who regularly screeched on two wheels towards one of the pickups. On the upside, I am now a scheduling ninja who can plot a time-saving detour in seconds.

    PS Ordered the book – I am in South Africa – and can’t wait for it to arrive. Your blog is my sanity saver!

  • Denise

    Exactly this. And while we’re at it, do I snooze my teacher friends – who are doing god’s work, no disrespect – but I see them all complaining that we aren’t doing enough. That we can’t get our “crack smoking” asses to middle school graduation on time and thus deserve to be locked out. This isn’t for school or an interview – it’s a graduation ceremony for fucksake. I swear, we’re trying, we’re doing our best, don’t make it harder if we’ve got a toddler melting down in the parking lot or forgot to get gas earlier.

  • Joodzy

    I remember the years I had four kids in four different schools. There was also another in post secondary in the city, but I didn’t have to drive her anywhere. As I left a meeting at work one day at 2pm, my accountant joked that I was off to my second job. Pick up the youngest at our neighbourhood elementary school, race across town for the next one at Late French Immersion, down the street to Junior high, halfway to the next province to the high school, and then all the way home. Feed them quickly and start driving to dance, hockey, jobs and friends’ houses. And then pick them up from all these places. Good times. Thankfully, they all graduated and I cleaned out my car.

  • Carolyn

    I hear you. Some days the tediousness and the repetition and the battles and the knowledge that there are years and years of this yet to come make me feel like I’m trapped in a never-ending loop. Like the movie “Groundhog Day.” And I wish sometimes that there was a way out. And then I meet a woman this week who is one year younger than me, who has three beautiful girls ages 5, 6 and 8, and who has ALS. She can’t drive, she can’t cook, she can’t clean, she can’t walk, she can’t use her hands, she can’t talk. But she is giving every ounce of her energy to live for those girls as long as she can, and using every spare second of her personal care hours to have healthy meals prepared for them. And I weep at the thought of how much she would long to be able to drive them to and from school, and cook their meals, and pick up their toys, and attend their events, and here I am constantly bitching to myself about how hard motherhood is…

  • Tela

    Just finished your book. It is a stunning piece of work, thank you for putting it out into the world.

  • Dorrie

    I love your blog, I love how you write, I am currently devouring your book (ya know, in a slow, no-time-to-read-because-of-all-this-being-a-mom-shit kind of way)
    I have never commented here, though, but had to today…this line at the end,

    “And if we see each other, we can’t be disappeared.”

    ended me. I dissolved a little in a small puddle of tears. THIS is SO just how I’ve been feeling. THANK YOU for those words. I’m waving! See me?!!!

  • Katy

    I just finished your book. I even talked my small conservative town’s library into buying it and putting it on their shelf. Well done. You’re welcome in my carpool any day.