Posts Filed Under Sometimes, I’m all deep and shit…..

As real as it gets.

by Janelle Hanchett

In a fact that strikes me as remarkable, I actually wrote this post a few days before my brother-in-law was killed in a car accident (two weeks ago). For some reason, I didn’t publish it, but for [probably] obvious reasons, I cannot help but publish it now.

Maybe some part of me knew the universe wasn’t done with what it had to say…


When the universe smashes me across the face, repeatedly, with the same damn message, I do my best to engage, wake up a little, rather than ignore or deny it, or pull into some cave, because I’m too scared to face it.

And recently, the universe has pummeled me with the reality of death and loss – the transitory nature of all things, people, life. In a rather compassionate gesture, these messages have been just distant enough that I am not profoundly affected. But I am affected. And I feel compelled to write a few things.

The wife of a friend of mine went to see the doctor about a backache. They did an MRI and found cancer had taken over her body. She was a Pilates instructor in her early 50s. She passed away 17 days later.

The daughter of a best friend of my mom’s died from childbirth complications 24 hours after giving birth to a full-term, healthy baby girl.

A friend of mine is waiting for her unborn baby to pass away. There is nothing they can do.

A woman I used to work with – just facing retirement – died two months after finding out she had cancer.

There is more. But I won’t go on.

The reality of each these events has come into my world within one month. And as each one of them hit me, cut through to my core in rapid succession, I felt a strange feeling I can only describe as the following question: “Janelle, there are people dying suddenly and losing children, and you’re writing about baby sprinkles and ranting about childless know-it-alls. What the hell is wrong with you?”

And something didn’t feel right, and I felt compelled to write this post.

No, I don’t feel the need to defend myself, or this blog, neither its frivolity nor its sarcasm nor its ridiculousness. The truth is I don’t think life should be taken so damn seriously. I just don’t. And I don’t feel guilty about having fun, being as honest and real as I can, and having one helluva time making fun of women who say “baby sprinkle.”

But there’s something I want you all to know, and I’m not sure exactly why, but it has continued popping into my brain, which means I need to write it. When something nags me to be written, I make it a rule to always respond, no matter how much I fear the consequences.

And what I need to say is this: resting beneath my seething pessimism, sharp tongue, goofy flippancy and irrational judgments lies a well of a profound gratefulness – for the kids I whine about, the husband I bitch about, the very life I ridicule.

You see, I am a sober alcoholic. I have alluded to this in the past, but I’ve never said it directly.

I was a daily drinker by the time I was eighteen years old. Over the years, as my alcoholism progressed, I found myself less and less able to maintain the “act” of normalcy that held together the tenuous strands of my life, and in 2007, I became an essentially absent member of my children’s lives. I did not return to them fully until 2009.

Over the years, as I sunk deeper into a pit of alcoholic hopelessness, each morning swearing on my life I wasn’t going to drink again, only to find myself with the bottle that very evening, failing my children, failing myself, failing all, living a life strangled in lies, I began seeking a solution. I tried therapy, gyms, alternative health care, psychiatry, medication. I moved away. I moved back. I left my husband. I returned. I tried churches and spiritual retreats. I went to rehab five times.

But in March of 2009, something happened. I arose one more morning in the black haze of the paralyzing remorse that had become like air to me. But this time, somehow, for some reason, I was able to take a real look at my life and see it for exactly what it was. And I saw myself for what I was. I saw it all, and for the first time there was nothing left to blame (it was all gone) – and the reality of my existence planted fearlessly in the forefront of my mind: I was a failure in this life and I would die a slave to alcohol. I could not keep a job, a home, a friend. I was no mother.

And for the first time in my life I just wanted to be free. I no longer cared what was “wrong” with me. I simply wanted to wake up just one single day and know where I would end up that evening, know I would be there for my children, show up for my life, become a real human living a real life on this planet.

With every fiber of my being, I wanted to live.

I wanted to be free.

I now know that I had hit what some call the alcoholic’s “bottom.”

I had surrendered.

And because I was ready, some teachers came into my life who were able to show me how to live as a sober individual, and I have not taken a drink of alcohol (or any other mind-altering substance) since March 5th of 2009.

And so you see now, I stand in awe of my life. And that’s what I want you to know. I may bitch, and I may whine, and I may talk some serious shit, but if you were to scratch the surface of my complaining, you would find a woman with an exploding heart and tears pouring from her eyes – you would find an ocean of the deepest gratitude – because that woman is living. Because she is there.

And there was a time – many years in fact – when she was neither.

And that is who I really am. That is the other side. The rest, well, is for fun. In fact, had I not such a profound respect for my life, for these kids and this home and my job and motherhood and ALL the mayhem that entails – I doubt I could write this blog with such silliness, such sarcasm. You know, because I have nothing to prove. Nothing to gain. I already have it all. So why not laugh?

I have not kept this whole story to myself because I am ashamed. I am not hiding nor am I afraid. Rather it is because I spent my entire life acting like some victim, playing the role of the wounded puppy, so lost in self-centeredness I didn’t even see the destruction I caused – immature, narcissistic, feeling like the world owed me something…and so, I hesitated to say anything because I’m not interested in begging for attention or special recognition, or congratulating myself on doing the things I should have been doing my whole life, for growing the fuck up, taking on the responsibilities that were always mine. I am not special. I’m just a person with alcoholism.

And one day, I wanted to live more than I wanted to die.

But now, I guess, is the time that whole story needed to be told, cause I started feeling like I was hiding. And I try not to live that way, anymore.

My experience with daily life, beyond the wild sarcasm and smart-ass attitude I share with you, can be summed up in the following story.

As you know, a couple months ago, I dressed up in 1850s garb to participate in a field trip with Ava’s school. Before going to the field trip location, I had to drop Ava off at school. I sat there in my bonnet and giant cotton dress, roasting in 80 degree heat, and watched my daughter hop out of the car. I said “I’ll see you soon, baby, have fun!” And when she got a few feet from the car she looked back at me and smiled. And my eyes welled, and then they simply poured, because in her smile was a knowing, a trust, a security. It was a simple awareness that her mother was going to be there. For her. Today. There was no doubt in her mind. It was a carefree smile, a joyful smile of a child, a passing nod of a girl to her mother.

And I just could not believe it. Once again, I could not believe I have been given this second chance, to be here, now. To dress in these goofy clothes. To volunteer at my child’s field trip.

To be a mother to this girl, who isn’t doubting and isn’t scared, who knows…”she’ll be there.”

And in those moments what washes over me is a grace and light I cannot find the words to explain. It’s as if I’m living a miracle, so precious are those “nothing” moments of life, which I spend so much time joking about on this blog. Sometimes I feel I’ve pulled some giant cosmic joke on the world — sitting there at a Little League game — like it’s nothin’ – when inside, I’m bursting a little, in joyful disbelief that I could ever, EVER, be so damn lucky. To be sitting there, with a clear mind and clear heart, on the bleachers at a Little League game.

I guess that’s all I wanted you to know.

Yeah, that’s it.

I’ve always tried to keep it real on this blog, and this, my friends, is as real as it gets…




by Janelle Hanchett

Normally I don’t write my weekly Sunday post because I’m disorganized and insane and can’t pull it together. This week, however, I haven’t written because I don’t want to tell you about my week. Not because I don’t want to share – because we ALL know I’m a hopeless over-sharer – but rather, because for once, I’m without words. Well, almost without words.

I write when I have something to say. I write because something rolls in my head, around and around, until it ends somewhere. And when it ends, I know what I need to say. Even with those silly weekly posts, I know what I want to say.

But I don’t know what to say now. I’ve got no “message,” no “take away.” Not much of anything at all.

On Wednesday, a dear friend – one of those family members who aren’t family members – died in a car accident. To my children, he was a beloved uncle. To my husband, he was a best friend. To me, well, he was a man I knew well and cared about deeply for the last 11 years – revered highly – and absolutely adored for what he was in the lives of my in-laws and husband and children. The way he loved them. The way they loved him.

He was the one who never missed a birthday party, a family celebration, a barbeque. He was the one who never said “no I can’t help.” He was just.always.there.

Until now. Now he is gone.

His heart, it was huge. I see that heart right now. I miss who he was. Just him.

And so I’ve spent the week grieving with my children, watching them walk through this with the miraculous grace only a child possesses – so in the moment, so bravely, so unaffected and free. They play, eat, sleep, walk. And then they remember, cry, fold into each other’s arms, talk, remember. And then, they play again.

But I, I’m a little more stuck in my brain — I’ve got a story about it. I replay it and wonder why. I replay it and I want it to be different. I replay it and I my heart breaks for him, for being gone like this, and his daughter, and my in-laws and my husband and my kids, who have faced the intransience of life. Right now. So early.

I tell myself I need this to mean something. I tell myself I need to live. Now.


Finish the book I started writing, lose the last 20 pounds, apply to PhD programs I’ll “never get into.” Read the books gathering dust on my night stand. Spend time in an ashram. Live in Europe. Do some fucking yoga.

But it’s all so clichéd – that embrace life carpe diem bullshit after somebody dies – because what are the facts? The fact is this death will fade, this loss will drift into my past, my life will go on, and slowly, without my knowing, in will creep the illusion of security, the vast fallacy of permanence, the great human trick  – and I will buy it again, once more – the rabbit in the hat – becoming deluded, believing I know where I’m going to be tomorrow.

Assuming that I will “be”, at all, tomorrow.

Resting secure in the insane notion that I’ve got this life thing covered.

And then, I’ll start complaining again. Stressing about the lone $2.43 in my bank account. Agonizing about my prospects for finding a job when I’m done with school. Feeling the weight of the unfinished. Wondering how I’m failing my kids. Bitching at my mother. Cursing the halted traffic.

But for now, yeah, I’m free of that stuff, breathing a little deeper the air of this strange universe, welcoming the delta winds on my face, and my kids haven’t annoyed me in four days. Today, yes, I’m trembling in the joy and energy of existence, of my life.

Because it IS.

And so you see. I have no closure here, nothing to say. I’ve got no wit. Nothin’ clever up in here, today.

Just life, I guess.


May that always be enough.

And until we meet again, Uncle Jeffy, rest in sweet peace.


Hey Time Magazine. Are You Man Enough?

by Janelle Hanchett


Hey Time Magazine. Are you man enough?

Are you man enough to take it?

Can you take my motherhood?

Can you take my breastfeeding and baby-wearing and co-sleeping?

Can you take my bottles and strollers and cribs?

Can you comprehend my ambiguity?

Can you fathom my depths…

Can you breathe under the weight of my power?

As I dodge your attacks like a milky stealth fighter – as I stride along the battleground with cracked heels and giant breasts and a mouth whispering fuck you, and goodnight moon.

Are you man enough to know you have no place here?

Are you man enough to step aside?

You and your misogyny mean nothing to me. You and your sensationalism, your breastfeeder-gone-pedophile assault,  your  airstrike against us: mothers, all mothers, as you fuel fires for profit, to separate, diminish, annihilate.

Your violence is a buzz in my ear, a chuckle rolling off my tongue, a speck of dust in my eye, as I kiss the feet of the child I birthed in a tub in my living room.

under the knife in a sterile room.

on my back in a hospital with an epidural –

and dignity.

Are you man enough?

I know what you’re doing. I get it. You’ve lost your footing, in the face of these women you can’t control. These women who baffle you. These women who raise your children and fight your wars, pay your mortgage, lead your country and make you squirm.


It’s intimidating, isn’t it? Us.

You think if you divide us you’ll destroy us.

Ah, but you won’t.

We’ve taken it all already. Taken it all. Through immigration and migration and slavery and the suburbs. Through sickness through booze through death. Through oppression and suppression and depression. Through beating. Through black. Through light. Through loss. Through all.

We’re mothers.

Are you man enough to take it?

All of us?

Are you man enough to step aside?

Out of here. Out of this warmth – this red – this raging burn of love and hips and hands and milk – infinite chains of women you’ve never known. And will never know.

But I do.

We’re all here. All of us. Every form. Right here.

With nothin’ to prove.

Are you man enough to see it?

Are you man enough to let it go?

Because I can promise you one thing,





In our sleep, in our bones, in our weakness and in our strength – our many hues of the same undying strength – we’ve always been enough.

I sure loved it while it lasted.

by Janelle Hanchett

If extended breastfeeding causes dependency, why do my babies keep weaning themselves before they’re two?

No really. I wanna know. I keep gettin’ gypped.

It appears Georgia is moving on from the nursing relationship (at 21 months).

And the thing is…I want to nurse her more. I want to keep this going. But she’s only vaguely interested and gives me a passing glance and asks for “gook” (milk) occasionally and I offer repeatedly…but it’s becoming clearer and clearer that she’s pretty much, well, “over it,” as they say.


Today in the grocery store parking lot I saw a woman sitting in the backseat with the door open, nursing her baby who was probably about 8 months old. And as they do at that age, the little one was just intent on it – pulling her nourishment with vigor and interest and focus. My toddler? Half-assed nursing at best. Any little something – any little noise – any action in the room – boom. she’s done. Off the lap.

“I got things to do and people to see. I’m out.”

And she takes off to terrorize the house and squeal and climb shit.

It probably has something to do with the fact that she takes a bottle because I went back to work when she was 4 months, and often I’m not here when she goes to bed. So it’s my fault. Obviously. I know that. I accept that.

But it still makes me a little sad, this moving on. The new stage. Clearly it’s fine. And yes, I know 21 months is a good, solid time to nurse your baby.

But she just seems so little still, just a little thing stompin’ around and raisin’ hell. Just a little thing exploring the world, checking it out, venturing into life with strong and sure, but tiny, vulnerable, and innocent steps. She’s little. I can enfold her in my arms. I can pull her into a ball against my chest.

She still smells like a baby.

People. She smells like a baby.


But I’ve vowed to trust her and me and the process, and if she’s done, she’s done. I get to let go. I get to feel the pang of detachment and watch her walk along, in her new independence.

There are times as a mother when I have to put my money where my mouth is. Do I really believe in child-led weaning? Do I really believe my kids will let me know when they’re ready to move on? Well…do I or not?

Cause a part of me wants to fight her on it…wants to keep it going…wants to force the issue (not that you can “force” a baby to nurse) – but you know, ignore her [rather obvious] dismissal, pretend she still wants it — NOT LET GO.

But it’s a selfish move. It’s for me.  I want it. She is clearly quite undisturbed by the whole thing.

But when it gets down to it, I know my job is to provide a foundation, not BE the foundation. I build a solid ground upon which she can grow, in whatever direction that takes. I don’t get to determine HOW she grows. I don’t get to mold her into what I think she should be. She already is.

She is already complete. Everything she needs is within her. I nourish what’s there. I do my best to create a setting in which she can thrive. Find herself. Find herself.

Not find me.

It’s my job to find myself, and keep looking for me when I can’t see me — and if I ever, EVER start looking for “me” in my kids – looking for “me” in another individual, well then, I know I’m looking in the wrong place, expecting a child to make me whole, placing on them a responsibility for my well-being – demanding of them, taking away their freedom, making my existence their problem.

And I won’t do that.

So go, little Georgia. Go on, baby one.

I’m here when you need me. In whatever form that takes.

And I sure loved it while it lasted.

there she is

















And I wasn’t there.

by Janelle Hanchett

I don’t usually write about my kids and their illnesses because let’s be honest, it’s boring. But I gotta tell you about poor Georgia. Well, and I guess, me.

She’s had a fever for five days. We were told that 4 days is the longest time a virus will cause a fever, so we tried taking her in yesterday (day 4) but the urgent care was closed. We took her today and it turns out the baby girl has a urinary tract infection and possibly a kidney infection.

They found this out by inserting a catheter in her.

And I wasn’t there.

I was at school. It’s a long story. The timing was off. I couldn’t get there. My mom was with her.

As I talked to the doctor to approve the procedure, I wanted to die. I thought of my baby in that office, in pain, without her mama. I thought of the agony. I thought of the fear. I thought of her thoughts. I saw her tears and heard her cries and felt them in the depths of my soul.

And even though the “procedure” was only five seconds, and even though I raced home, and even though I held her for hours, kissed her forehead as she rested on my chest…despite all this, beyond it all, I raged.

I raged because I wasn’t there. I raged because I’ve made the choice to be in school. I raged because WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?

Why wasn’t I there? What is more important than that?

It’s so hard, this gig. This working-while-parenting. This education-while-parenting. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel worth it. Sometimes I think maybe we should just stay poor. And I should just drop my “goals.”

But then again, I’m not sure I can.

I wonder sometimes if it were easier to be a mother back in the 19th century when things were simpler. When a woman had babies and worked in the home and made a home. When she knew what her life was and it was all there was, and there wasn’t such a pull of “I could be more” and “I need to achieve” and “I must make something of myself.” Being a mother and building a home was making something of oneself. And indeed it is.

Yes, I realize there were women who had all that drive, way back then, just like I do. And I realize women couldn’t vote and that ain’t right…and duh. There were problems – not trying to glorify anything.

But society was different. Society didn’t sell the particular lie that we’ve been sold: THAT WE CAN DO IT ALL.

Because we cannot. We cannot do it all. There is always a cost. There is always a sacrifice. We cannot be working mothers and fulltime mothers …fulltime mothers and high-achieving career women…without a cost.

And the cost is today.

The cost is a toddler on a table in a doctor’s office, enduring horrifying pain without the arms and breast and whispers of her mother.

That is my cost.

And it hurts.

Fuck all that feminist stuff. Screw the politics. You know I’m so left I’ve almost come around to the right. That ain’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what it’s like to attempt to do it all. The on-the-ground experience of trying to have a career and raise a family at the same damn time.

And realizing that it just isn’t working.

Why do I keep going? Why don’t I quit? Why don’t I drop grad school and be with my kids?

Because there’s a part of me that wants more. There’s a part of me that has always wanted a career in teaching. Because it’s the “me” separate and apart from my kids. It’s a “me” I love. It’s a “me” I can’t just abandon, either.

But it’s a “me” I resent. It’s a “me” I want to destroy sometimes. Shut her up. Silence her. Become that woman complete in her home, content in the currents of her daily life, fulfilled by the place of her family, rooted in love, in children, in this.

And yet I am not. I am not that woman.

And so I face the costs. I endure this pain. The pain of my arms and breast and whispers falling useless, in that moment of separation, as they frantically reach for my child who needs me. Needs me when I am not there.

I would say I’m sorry, Georgie, but the words fall useless, too.