I’m pretty sure Instagram doesn’t capture this.

by Janelle Hanchett

I believe there is a time in the life of every mother when she low-key can’t stand her kids. Okay okay. That’s not what I meant.

What I meant was: I low-key can’t stand my kids.

Of course I mean “can’t stand my kids” in the motherhood definition, meaning I wake up every day doing my best for them and lay my head down at night wishing it all didn’t go so fucking fast and I’d jump in front of a train for them, defend them with my last breath, and don’t know how I’d continue breathing if they were gone.

You know? That kind of “can’t stand.”

But on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis, these humans are really pissing me off.

They’re a giant irritation tornado.

I don’t think mothers are supposed to admit this, but I’m going to admit it, because it’s true and real, and we get to complain about every other goddamn job without hearing WELL YOU SIGNED UP FOR THIS SHIT SUCK IT UP, so here goes: My family is annoying the shit out of me.

I think we’re broken. I think we rounded some bend and it’s all fucked now.

I don’t know if it’s just the ages of everyone or if there’s something wrong with me, but my family is heavy right now.

It seems like there is always somebody fighting, complaining, whining, or sitting around on their cell phones. I ask somebody to do something and the somebody ignores me. Or talks back. Or announces some other kid does fewer chores. There’s suddenly a lot of favoritism. My favorite part of the favoritism claim is how quickly it’s passed from one kid to the next until one kid at every moment is claiming we love some other kid more. And in my head I’m like well right now you may have a point.

George’s mission in life is to torment Arlo, who is four, meaning he unleashes a blood-curdling scream that sends me straight to the roof. He has also taken to growling. That seems healthy. Did I mention he’s four?

Have you ever met a four-year-old? The other day he threw a ten-minute tantrum because he was in pumpkin pajamas – so fucking cute I could puke – and didn’t want to take them off to get dressed because he wanted to be a “scare pumpkin.”

Translation: He wanted to hide in my bed and jump out at me, which he had already done three times and I played along, like a motherfucking saint, but it wasn’t enough. And I was like SON I GAVE YOU THREE MINUTES IN THE MORNING MAYHEM WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME.

Of course we were running late because unless I wake up nine hours before we’re supposed to leave, we’re running late.

Rocket torments George. Why? Who the fuck knows why. It’s like he sits around thinking of the most annoying thing he can do to his younger sibling and then he does that.

Ava torments Rocket.

It’s like a goddamn sibling-torment circle.

And when they’re all happy, George is running around the house, Rocket is making some sort of screeching sound, and Arlo is bouncing off the walls in maniacal reaction to the energy of all of them.

And I’m sitting there like this family sucks.

Legit question, and answer carefully, because it ain’t that simple: Are kids more annoying when they’re pissed off or happy?

I think it’s me. I think I’m the asshole here.

And then there’s the tattling coming from the eight-year-old. I love tattling. In other news, she suddenly doesn’t sleep well. George was my super sleeper from on high and now she’ll keep herself awake for a full goddamn hour.

The wall of sound. The squealing. The rolling around on the floor. The mess.

I am just not into it. I am so goddamn tired.

What does that mean, exactly? When we look around at our kids and we’re like “Maybe I don’t like this very much.”

I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. What’s the point? I don’t have anything to offer. I’m sure the comment section will fix me. We all love that.

I guess I’m just saying it out loud because it’s real, and I think we, as mothers particularly, are not allowed to just stand up and say “I fucking hate this right now.” We aren’t allowed to go through really trying phases that maybe we cannot fix, that maybe we have to just get through somehow until it changes.

We decided maybe George needed some activities that were hers. Some special shit. Maybe she wanted some attention. We got her into a hip hop class. She joined Scouts.

My teenager and I spent an hour together the other day during the early part of the school day. After a major blow up, I said fuck it and took her to get coffee with me. That felt good.

I’ve made sure to ask Rocket about his day, and spend time one on one with him, talking. I make sure I read Arlo a few books most nights.

I’m trying to do right by these kids, but holy fuck, guys.

I implemented screen-free evenings. We colored together with fancy pens. We had fun.

Sometimes we try tiny changes and hold on. Sometimes we cling to nothing and hold on. But I wanted you to know it’s like this, because maybe your house is like this too, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us. I think some phases of family life are just really, really hard.

And we can meet each other there.


actually Instagram may come close sometimes



What I wrote in this post is largely why I explored the narrative of the “redemptive power of motherhood,” and all that sanctimonious bullshit, in my book.

Because sometimes, this shit just feels like work.

Sacred, important work? Sure, but still, work, with all the bullshit therein.

Oh, hey. Also. Next week, on the 25th, I’m giving a talk in Huntsville, Alabama about motherhood and addiction. JOIN US.




44 Comments | Posted in bitching about the kids I chose to have. | October 20, 2018
  • Alicia

    I love this so hard right now. Thank you. Now I’m pissed and crying. (But seriously, thank you for sharing this)

  • Chandra

    So much this.

  • Ash

    Dude, I feel you. I was a SAHM for years. Went back to work in 2014. Lost my job in June, have been home ever since. I have 2 kids; 15 and 11 year old boys. I told my 11 year old yesterday that I felt like running away from home. Then I went and cried in the shower. I can’t find a job, also lost my health insurance and can’t pay $300 for 30 pills every month that help me function. I caught my 15 year old with a vape pen the other day, and my 11 year old is a hypochondriac that whines about everything.
    You are not alone!

  • Amanda

    Allll of this. Except i think the “phase” is “all of childhood if you have more than one kid.” Really awesome with a lot of crap in between. I adore your writing and send many of your blog posts to all of my new mother friends. I also loved your book! Thank you for all the realness.

  • Ytak

    Oh my Gods I feel this so much right now. Its like my kids actually hate each other most of the time…. and we can’t even spend time together. The big two just talk to each other in memes and the little one pisses them off to try and get attention and all I do is shout. Do you get to a point where you can’t do things with all your kids at the same time? Because I feel like that’s the point we are at and it is making me miserable.

  • Dena

    Yes, I love my kids. Yes, sometimes I don’t like my kids. (I have 3)
    I have found it helps when they’re really pissing me off to let them know that I really don’t like them at that moment. I say “ You know, I always love you. But right now, I really, really don’t like you! “. The response is very interesting… There’s usually a long pause, sometimes a sniffle, and then they go to their rooms and think about it. I don’t ask them to. Sometimes the truth hurts. Things do seem better after that exchange… And I do really love them. I think it’s OK to not like your kids sometimes. Sometimes I don’t like my husband either. But at the end of the day we’re a family and we do love each other. Don’t beat yourself up, I think it’s normal.

  • Tina

    The story of my fucking life right there. I think this every day. Why are my kids such humongous tits towards each other? Sure, there’s the odd peaceful moment, but generally – I feel like I live in a mental hospital. The Teasing, the screeching 3-year-old and YES the growling! We have that too, although sometimes – that’s me. More like often.
    When does it stop? I really need it to stop….

  • Lyd


  • Nicole

    Preach! I’m pretty sure I say this on a regular basis.

    Unfortunately, the phases just keep coming around. In my own annoyingly “normal” family, my brothers and I are all in our 40s and we still go through these phases. We irritate the shit out of each other just to be assholes, which always ends up with my mom in tears and my dad either laughing or yelling. Full disclosure – my mom is a total enabler and codependent in this behavior so I feel like we often do it now JUST to get to her. Yes, we’re so mature. It’s our own special form of dysfunction.

    I’m pretty sure this is why I stopped at 2. I never wanted to feel outnumbered…and it was exactly what my mom DIDN’T want. Yeah, I know, I know – shit’s getting deep.

  • Hadley

    I love this so much. I’ve been feeling like this for so long and just feeling like an absolute piece of shit because of it. Like I legit think I’m the suckiest mom of all time. You just made me realize I’m not. Or maybe I am. But I’m still trying my ass off every day to not suck so bad. Thankyou for this.

  • Jamie

    OMG, this so much. I love my kids, deeply, fiercely, all-encompassing, but holy shit do they drive me up a wall.

  • Tara


    I have twins (they’re 2.5) and every day is a constant monologue of me saying “I know you’re upset that you can’t wear the pajama pants your sister is wearing, but she’s wearing them” or “Roen, stop telling your sister she can’t come outside with you, because she absolutely can,” and meanwhile Aoife (e-fuh) is in full-on meltdown because Roen told her she can’t go outside. I’m about to lose my goddamn mind.

    In other, unrelated news I had a brain wave about the girl who cooked the ashes into the cookies — how about I bake some cookies with my placenta in them and Ava brings them to school for her to eat? Revenge is best served warm and with chocolate chips. Too much?

  • Csmith

    This morning I sat in my van for 30 min for a mommy time out and my only thought was, “how come I can’t stand these kids when I love them so fucking much”. The simple fact is that growing up is hard and kids are often really terrible human beings. But when they’re not, oh my, it’s like a glimpse of the infinite goodness of the universe, you know?

  • Tee

    You are awesome. I am so glad you are you and you say this stuff. I have been feeling like the worst mother ever because miss 11 went on school camp for 2 nights and I was glad because I just wanted some down/ quieter time. I still had Mr just turned 5 who sounds a lot like Arlo but miss 11 is a talker, constantly, incessantly and she wants me to listen to every freaking word even when she tells the 5yo something and I’m sitting right there she has to then tell me what she just said. I love it and her but it is draining/ exhausting/ killing me. I love my kids but I am worn out from the constant need. They need attention or food or my time or something, there is always a constant 24/7 of someone needing something and I often think I am broken or there is something wrong with me but I just want off this parenting gig for a couple of days, or weeks or months, to recharge, to not be needed, something…. peace, quiet, solitude and the chance to pee uninterrupted. It is hard and I think it’s ok to not enjoy it at times but no one ever says it, so thank you for being brave enough

  • Barb

    Yessss! I have 5, 3 and 1 year olds and the have been driving me bat shit crazy lately. The 5 year old just started kindergarten and has become so mean to her little sister, my 3 year old screams CONSTANTLY and my 1 year old is mad he can’t talk and whines all day… I hear mama and I snap “WHAT!” (Not nicely) gah

    On top of all that we are currently trying for number 4- am I INSANE! Yes….

    As usual you speak nothing but truth woman.

  • Gailen Blank

    It sucks so much in my house, my girlfriend and I are thinking of renting a storage locker to go cry in, or stare at the walls and drool.
    I am trying, I mean to the fucking moon and back.
    But, I’ve got teenage asshole, boys.
    One is eating himself into oblivion and the other has stopped eating and looks like a heroin addict.
    He was just diagnosed with Aspergers! At 16 so no interventions, that might have eased life by now.
    But, he is actually the sweet one.The one eating everything, broke his fingers, but he can still play fucking forte night and scream at people through I Mic.
    He is such an asshole right now.
    And it hasn’t stopped raining for like 40 days.
    Plus it’s freezing and their father is a real dick right now.
    And no one will clean up! But, I am trying so fucking hard!!

  • Al

    Oh I hear you. 23, 20 and freshly 18 (and more grown up than all of us, I shit you not) the 20 yr old has BIG issues and has reconfigured history to make me the worst evil bitch mother in the world and I’m done. Why did I have kids? I’ve been his whipping boy for so long and all of a sudden I realised HE’S the asshole. But still my kid and with lots of problems that only he can sort out now….so…FARRRRK! My therapist is going to get a new car out of this!

  • Jill

    I feel you. Maybe we should all put up signs in our houses that say, “Try not to be a dick.” Whatever, the little dicks would probably ignore it anyway. ????

  • Angel Nomikos

    OMG, this is the story of my life right now. I’ve turned into a pissed off, annoyed, mid forties cranky bitch. I thought I was so close to the finish line with only one teenager left at home. This child is aka… the selfish asshole who thinks I live to drive her around like I work Uber. But then my mother in law breaks a hip & it’s my house she lives at for 6 months while pissing and moaning worse than a toddler about everything under he god damn sun.. Physical therapy, work therapist, speech therapist, taking her medicine, eating/drinking, bathing, changing her clothes.. you name it… she hates it & wont cooperate. I now have to make sure all therapy appointments are scheduled in between teenage daughters driving assignments so the cranky non cooperative senior citizen that has taken up residence in my living room with her hospital bed and all does her therapy. All I want is some QUIET AND COOPERATION. Do your chores, homework, physical therapy, take your medicine…blah, blah, blah… . FUCK!!! Could everyone just do what they are suppose to do without intervention from me please!! I literally feel like a shit sandwich… in between a rock and a hard place… you know what I mean when I say I go to work to get away from my loved ones. God forgive me for saying these things much less writing them on a blog with my name attached to it.

  • Tinker

    I wrote a few private blogs just like this. It gets to a point when you are like…. I don’t think I was meant to be a Mom. Some people are, but not me…. I hate this too much. It comes in a rush, you feel it in your core…. and then boom you’re at the pumpkin patch picking out pumpkins and your like… okay it’s not that bad, look how cut they are picking out their pumpkins all happy… then 2 minutes later… you are waiting in line for the pony rides that takes 200 hours, and they are running around and touching each other and throwing themselves into the lady in-front of them.. while you are like “KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF” like the psycho mom you never thought you would be. And the circle starts in your head and you are like… why do I do this stupid pumpkin patch shit every year… i hate it.

    Me dude. me.

    • Rachel Romano

      I usually stand there looking at other people who are around my same age and they seem to really have their shit together and I’m wondering why they seem so much better at this than me 🙂

  • Meghan

    This. I have been home from their ballet classss for an hour and a half and all I have done is repeat myself until I’m shouting. And there are only 2 of them. But its the same shit every damn day. I keep telling myself it’s just my raging bitchiness from being 34 weeks pregnant and miserable and it won’t be so bad after baby gets here but then there will be 3 and we will be outnumbered and oh what in the hell was I even thinking. On the other hand- newborn cuddles omg I can’t wait.

  • Charlotte McDonnell

    Not going to lie – watching siblings torment each other in public is one of the reasons I only had one. I was an only child. That doesn’t look fun at all.

    I mean, there are obvious downsides of that too, like I am the entertainment all of the time and loud complaints about her being too lonely to fall asleep at bedtime.

    But there’s less bickering. Bickering is hard.

    I think all the parents of multiple kids are like superhero wizards. It looks hard. You’re amazing!

  • Joanne

    I had a migraine the other day. Like, one of those “seeing fireworks, gonna puke my guts out, think my eyeballs are going to burst right out of my head” migraines. My 5 and 2-year-old boys were running around SHRIEKING at each other at the top of their lungs for NO REASON. I may have said, to my husband and children, ARE YOU ALWAYS THIS GODDAMN NOISY?! Not my proudest parenting moment, but there it is.

  • Sue GR

    Thank you. Highly therapeutic reading after being verbally abused by my 17 y.o. For making her wait for her ride home from work that could be gotten via Lyft for $7 but she needs to save her money to buy $10 packs of cigarettes. She was a super cute toddler. But she verbally abused me then too.

  • Maggie Jones

    Oh yeah. That right there. I can be loving them to death one minute and then they can fuck around just a moment too long when i tell them to get off the goddam computer and brush your teeth and I am digging around for my passport.

  • Samantha

    You are nowhere near alone on this one mama. It SUCKS. It’s relentless and suffocating and triggering and lonely and brutal and and and… Being a mom is loving your coworkers but hating the fuck out of your job. It’s enough to keep you showing up for work everyday but hating everything about it. We’re trapped. So I hear you, we hear you, we DO talk about it and feel no guilt or reason to back peddle with disclaimers like “but I love my kids” because we KNOW you do. If you didn’t love them you would have quit the job years ago. And you’re right, there are no real solutions or nuggets of wisdom on how to push through the shitty times, so instead write posts like this and know you are far from the only one who feels this way. We’re with ya. Big hugs XO

  • Sarah

    Preach it. The constant talking, the constant bucket of needs and desires, the fucking granola bar wrappers everywhere. It is just so tiresome sometimes. No shade here.

  • Britt

    Truth. Add a husband who acts like a child, makes messes like a child and everyone wonders why Mom is so cranky. Because you all treat us like maids, not mothers. Like wrestle mania referees. My 14 yr old was fully dressed and made up to volunteer at a haunted house yesterday afternoon. Went into the bathroom where 6 yr old is showering, pulls back the curtain and scares the shit out of her. The screaming and crying went on and on. “I didnt mean to scare her…” Really. Then as I’m gone for 4.5 hrs at the haunted house, I come home to cold pizza left on the over and and full sink of dishes. Hubs was home all night. I wake this morning and they’re still there. “Why are you pissed already today?” Really. Everyday is the same. Everyday for 14 years. Who’s idea was this? To have a family that isnt a team like I had always wanted. I cant even get a part time job because my husbands job is so erratic and demanding. There’s No Escape! Except your blog. Then I dont feel so shitty as a parent, not alone in the crazy. Cheers!

  • Haley

    Yes. And you’re right it’s ok to not like every aspect, or even most aspects of our job. Because this parenting gig isn’t a thing because it’s fun, it’s a thing because of love, and love can be very very unfun. Thanks for writing this. My house is a shitshow too.

  • Desiree

    So happy to read this. Yesterday was a shit show. I have a daughter who is 16 and a son who is 12. My 16 year old thinks she rules the house. Ignores everything I tell her to do. Not doing well in school. Blames everyone else and not herself. Now cries to get out of EVERYTHING. My husband just gives her what she wants instead of giving her boundaries and rules. She has taken over my living room. My son is a roller coaster of emotions. Loves me one minute, treats me like I am the devil the next. My husband does not tell them to do shit so he is the favorite. Last but not least. There was something sticky on the floor in front of the refrigerator. Everyone had to of stepped through it and got their socks stuck. Did they clean it? Nope I did. The maid! fuck my life.

  • Lorna

    Oh this, this is everything, you climbed in my brain and took the words out – thank you for posting this…

  • Kelly

    Solidarity, honey. All we can do is keep walking on these shit show days, and fuck the sanctimommies getting the goddamn vapors about this shit. It be real life, yo.

  • Rachel Romano

    I am so glad I’m not the only one. Sometimes I fantasize that I didn’t have any kids and went to law school like I wanted to and now have a fancy, clean apartment, perfect body and clothes that aren’t leggings, stained, or maternity (my youngest is 3). I love my husband and kids, but some days just suck and I don’t know what life is even about. And then I feel guilty for whining because some people really have hard lives. But this is hard too.

  • Jennifer Schartz

    Let me be the first to throw it out there. Yes, Janel, you are an asshole. Here’s my take on it. If all our children see is perfect parents, how are they supposed to learn to deal with the 98 percent of all people they encounter in life who are assholes? If we don’t stand up to the plate and show them the real world, we are not preparing our children for life. Please don’t apologize. Wear your assholiness proudly. You go girl!!

  • Linda

    I think we’re going to need a bigger boat if we all get in it together. I’m really happy to see it, though. I have a 15 yr old with a mental illness who is standing on the last shred of nerve either of us have, torments all the kids and the parents and is never at fault. There’s no medication that works. He has normal teen angst and the ramped up stuff that reaches DefCon 1 regularly and we’re living at a 2. I’m tired. Like to the bone. Into the marrow. Thank you for letting us all get that off our chests.

  • Kater

    Yessss to all of this!(and the comments) honestly I was starting to wonder if it was just me. Not like ‘am I the only one feeling like this’ but more like ‘am I just a bitch with high expectations who gets annoyed really easily’. But then no, because they drive my husband insane as well. So there’s that. Why does my 8 year old have to be such a freakin know-it-all! Can I teach him not to do that?? Or is that his personality I really don’t know but it’s annoying as hell. And why does my 4 year old have to be such an instigator/drama-lama! WHYYYY. Here we are every weekend taking turns snapping at the kids and saying things like ‘this is why we never want to take you anywhere!’ Even though in reality getting out and doing something is usually better if you can get past the first 15 minutes of whining/arguing about it. I don’t know. The weekends are a break from work. The weekdays are a break from kids. It all comes out in the wash.

  • Halima

    Love this! I wrote a very similar post, albeit minus the cursing (my bad). And you’re right, we should talk about the crap side of parenting.x

  • Heather

    Yes. My kids go to a school where most of the moms are pretty and perfect and would NEVER admit to being irritated by their beloved babies. It’s not okay to be real and honest about parenthood in this culture. My two have been making me ridiculously crazy lately and my biggest fear is I’ve DONE IT ALL WRONG and that is the problem. They are rude and sassy and ungrateful and loud and so loud…and the worst is when they go into cahoots to be naughty together. It seems I’m constantly fighting with my oldest and my youngest then declares I’m being “mean”. So anyway I always appreciate your writing bc it’s a place where I can hear “real” from another Mom and that is rare.

  • Erin Parker

    I have been reading your blog for almost 5 years now. I have never commented, but I had to tell you that I f’n love you. I have 3 kids 9, 6, and 4. I actually discovered you while pregnant with my youngest, Cassidy…you had me w/ that Cailou post. I never laughed so hard. I think Cassidy and Arlo are only about a week apart. I then binge read all your posts in one day, I was hooked. I don’t know how many times I turned to your blog and you wrote about something I was going through at that very moment. Just this AM I was in a nice deep sleep and it felt soooooo incredibly good (since my 4 yr old has decided to get up in the middle of the night for the last 3 nights..good times) to only be awaken at 5:15am by my 6 year old. Then I see that the 9 yr old is awake and the 4 yr old who is in bed w/ me is now awake too. I lost my shit…yelling “I don’t get to sleep, I get to do hundreds of loads of laundry, cook, clean, pick up wrappers and cups scattered everywhere, run you to sports and activities while listening to all of you bicker, tease and annoy all day and I can’t even get a decent nights sleep. I told them they all needed to get their shit together. Lol Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. They knew I meant business though. Idk, I hear you sister and I can relate 100%. It’s REALLY hard. I go through it everyday and then you’re right, there are those beautiful, fun moments woven in between. The way you talk about and describe your children is spot on with my family as well. I often wonder if it is me too. They are really so annoying though, but we love them! Sorry for the rant, but this post has been 5 years in the making. You are not alone..ok gotta go..4 yr old boss lady will be getting off the bus shortly???? I hope to meet you someday, come to NYC! I can’t wait to read your book!

  • Dorothea

    Literally yesterday I Googled “I hate being a mother.” Then randomly this morning I come here, and you remind me it’s normal. I’m not a bad guy. Although I still feel like I am 100 times a day.
    I love my soon-to-be 6 year-old daughter, I would do ANYTHING for her and my husband. But they are life-sucking jerks who think only about the ways I’m disappointing or how I should be doing more. Most days I regret having a child. But here I am, and I’m committed to doing my best. Even when I don’t want to do it anymore… ugh.

  • Heather

    As someone else said, it’s like you live in my house and pulled the words out of my brain. Thank you, thank you, thank you for keepin’ it real and helping the rest of us keep on podding forward… I loved reading your post and loved reading the comments. I wish all you ladies were sitting with me here right now in this coffee shop (where I’m supposedly working)– I think we’d have a good ol’ time!

  • Kerry

    Hi from Huntsville.
    Glad I’m not alone. I feel like such a shit mom and when I think things like ‘I dislike you greatly right now’. I happen to think that about most humans. Including tiny ones. I didn’t realize not liking your kid from time to time (possibly daily or hourly) was a thing. How much less I could have beat myself up if I understood that a couple years ago. Good thing I can remember it most of the time, because now she’s 3. Fun times. Can’t wait till she starts growling at 4.
    I love this picture. ????????????????

  • Wendy

    LOVE THIS SO MUCH! Am a little tired of the bullshit of social media and love that you speak the truth – we need to hear that we are not the only ones!