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

A happy Christmas story for your soul

by Janelle Hanchett


I realize the title of this post and my history of twisted sarcasm have probably led you to suspect that I’m about to tell a dark saga involving tyrannical children and poop, but I’m actually not. I’m actually going to tell you a happy Christmas story, as indicated. Or Hanukkah. Or Kwanzaa. Or every-other-day if you’re a Jehovah’s Witness.


It’s happy. And it’s Christmastime (for us). Therefore, it’s a happy Christmas story.

For your soul.

A couple weeks ago, Rocket, Georgia and I were in a restaurant. It was lunchtime and the place was pretty full. While waiting for our food, I was doing the usual follow-Georgia-around-the-restaurant-because-she’ll-only-sit-in-the-high-chair-for-12-and-a-half-minutes-and-I-need-to-save-it-for-when-the-food-actually-comes routine, which involves, of course, her stomping around the restaurant with great determination (though without destination), and me following, fielding glares from people when she falls on the floor and they look at me like “what kind of mother are you, letting your toddler touch that dirty ground.”

And with my eyes I say “bite me you judgmental childless bat.”

That’s not what I meant.

Yes it is. Because anybody who’s ever had a kid knows that most of them, at one point, learn to walk, and learning to walk involves FALLING, and falling kids aren’t interested in holding their mother’s hands. Do you know I’ve received at least 3 comments from strangers telling me I should hold my kid’s hand? Whatever.

Why am I always off topic?

So we’re walking around at an alarmingly rapid pace when all of a sudden Georgia stops dead in her tracks. Just stops completely and fixates on a very old, frail, kind-looking man sitting next to his wife. He was smiling at Georgia.

Georgia’s face was serious and focused, like she was trying to understand him. She then did something I have never seen her do to any stranger. Keeping her eyes on his, she put both hands up in the universal “pick me up” gesture. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it.

With some effort he pushed back his chair and turned around toward her. And with shaking hands this old man reached down and lifted up my daughter as she walked confidently into his arms. With determination that matched hers, he struggled to set her in his lap, facing him. She then, without hesitation, rested her head on his chest with all the calmness and serenity I’ve ever seen in her.

By now many people in the restaurant were watching, struck by a pretty interesting turn of events.

He patted her back and I felt like I was witnessing something that mattered, though I couldn’t figure out how. I didn’t say a word.

She lifted her head, looked up at him intently, then rested it on his chest again.

His face glowed, his eyes lit up with joy and pride and delight. They fell shut for a moment, as if he were trying to hold this moment completely in his mind.

She looked up into his face one more time, turned, and crawled off his lap, then kept stomping along her way.

It was one of those things in life that is so unexpected and inexplicable you roll it over and over in your head but can’t make sense of it. Why that guy? Why then? Why so much affection? What was her draw to this particular man?

When I told Mac the story he said something that rocked my soul.

He said “I wonder if he is about to die, and Georgia related to him, you know, like two people on either end. Maybe she knew he was like her, close to the source but on the other end.”

Now I’m not stupid enough to start talking about the “G” word on my blog. (God, not Georgia). I will only say that since having my first kid, it’s been apparent to me that young children are tuned into something that most adults have missed for a very, very long time – for whatever reason.

Maybe it’s just an incredible presence – an ability to stay right in the moment, all the time, in complete openness to whatever comes and where, evidently, miraculous gestures of love occur.

Where old men get hugs from toddlers they don’t know and whole restaurants get to see two complete strangers connect in love, on a level of existence that doesn’t make sense to most of us.

A moment of compassion and acceptance and truth. A moment of embrace. A very old, shaking man, and a bright, energetic toddler – a child who paused and took a moment to see him, see all of him, see his soul. And she saw that it needed something. A hug, perhaps, particularly.

And so, she gave it to him.

It was as if he was an old friend.

When he left, he patted Georgia’s head gently and she grinned and he looked at me with a knowing smile. There was a tear in his eye.

Perhaps they both understood.


What does she see?

42 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | December 21, 2011

On the Occasion of being Called Unoriginal

by Janelle Hanchett


I have accepted my lameness in most areas. I have fully embraced my sub-par performance in pretty much every facet of my life, particularly parenthood.

But today, somebody referred to one of my blog posts as unoriginal.

And that pissed me off.

Because it was true.

It was unoriginal. She was referring to the last post I wrote (about Ava getting flipped off). I could begin with a link to the post I wrote about sarcasm so perhaps this commenter could see that I was just ranting for the sake of ranting in a silly, over-the-top way and there was not much seriousness in it at all. But the truth is that when I got to the end of the post I said to myself “and…now what, Janelle? Where you going with this. Say something interesting.”  But I was too fucking tired. And I just wasn’t feeling “deep.”

I’m sure that has never happened to the commenter in question. I’m sure she is universally profound.

Not me, though. Sometimes I just rant. Sometimes I write shitty blog posts. Sometimes I FAIL. Thank goodness there is always somebody though, standing at the ready with their flaming sword of truth to show me the error of my ways. Ah, the flaming sword of truth. I stole that expression from a friend of mine.

So setting aside the fact that she misunderstood an entire blog post on account of the fact that there is no sarcasm font (or something) and somehow thought the purpose of the post was something other than a base, superficial rant, I would like to write a few things about my ACTUAL response to this whole flipping-off thing.

But wait a second. Can we talk about context and purpose for a moment? Let’s get something straight. Some posts are deep and profound and REAL. Other posts are silly and shallow and NOT REAL.

But I digress.

This commenter also discussed “veiled violence” and admonished us for going on and on about how we’re going to “cut a bitch” (which is so funny it’s making me LOL as I write this. I effing love you people.)

The Flaming Sword of Truth. Yay.

Beyond the cute use of alliteration, I’m not totally sure what her point there was with the “veiled violence” thing – perhaps that we should be teaching our kids something beyond “cutting people.”

Oh COME THE FUCK ON lady we were JOKING.

You wanna know what I really told my daughter? You want that? You want fucking original? Fine. You got it.

I told her people are assholes. I told her some things happen that leave us feeling desperate and abused and vulnerable. And that hurt turns to rage. It manifests as anger as our ego tries to protect itself. Then comes the urge to retaliate, the apparent need to act out and “get somebody back,” thinking for sure if we “really get ‘em” we’ll feel better and some of the hurt will go and we won’t be angry anymore. But it never works. We talked about the futility of that retaliation, how when we retaliate with more violence, we just become sick inside ourselves, and end up feeling worse than before, deep down, no matter what we may tell ourselves. We suffer like our abuser by holding onto rage – and we infuse with power that which we struggle against.

I suggested she look for the Buddha nature in that woman – for the spirit of God within her, making her our teacher.

I told her about Ghandi – about how he was shot in the heart point-blank on his way to a speech, and as he fell, he looked in the eyes of his murderer and whispered to him a blessing of love and forgiveness.


No, I did not suggest to Ava we hunt this woman down and kick her teeth in. I did that on my blog, where it’s safe to be over-the-top, shallow and sarcastic.

Well, usually.

Gettin’ behind the thankfulness thing.

by Janelle Hanchett

Okay, fine, I’ll get behind this thankfulness thing. I’m thankful for all kinds of things.

I do a lot of complaining.

But this is my blog. I can cry if I want to.

The truth is, though, I know I’m pretty much livin’ the dream and my whining is just that. Whining.

And I do it with full knowledge that I’m whining. Somehow, in my head, that makes it better.

Plus, I believe the truth of the moment has a right to be heard, and sometimes I get sick of being a parent and sick of living from one paycheck to the next and sick of the work and sleepless nights and the struggling and blah, blah, blah.

But I always know, somewhere, that what I have in this life is one giant, steaming pile of goodness.

And I don’t mean that sarcastically.

There is nothing worse than the friend who stands in her 3,000 square foot house complaining about the neighbors and how her kids’ private school just won’t do what she wants and her husband is just so busy and her kids are getting D’s and my god. You know the story.

And she really believes she’s got a tough gig. You just want to grab her and shake her – “DUDE. I know fifty people who would switch places with you RIGHT NOW if given the opportunity.”

And when I’m complaining, bitching about my mariachi-addicted neighbors and ironworker husband working out of town and the noise in my house and the stress of school and the seemingly unending chain of shit that needs to be done…

I know there are hundreds of women who would give anything for a husband who did something other than sit on his ass and play video games…

Or own a house in any neighborhood at all, anywhere…

Or have the opportunity to pursue their dream of grad school…

And there’s the woman

Who lost

Her baby and

would lay down every moment of the rest of her life

For just one hour of the chaos

And the pressure

And the expectations

I face and struggle with and

complain about,

every day.


Happy Thanksgiving, people.

Yep, pretty much.

10 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | November 24, 2011

If I could, I’d tell her she’s alright.

by Janelle Hanchett

Yesterday as I was getting into my car, there was an early teen-aged girl (probably 12 or 13) walking toward me from across the parking lot.

For some reason I watched her for a moment, long enough to see her jump up on a curb, then playfully hop down again – landing with a sort of silly childish stomp. With her first step back in stride she looked around a little nervously, patted her hair and bangs, making sure it was still in place.  There was perhaps a splash of embarrassment in her face as we locked eyes.

In our glance I realized I had witnessed something profound.  [I know it’s weird, but I’ve always been some sort of freak who sees gorgeous sacred moments in parking lots with strangers (and other inconsequential events). But I can’t help it; it’s how I roll. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a Hemingway novel. Or Melville. Definitely something sad and deep and American, and hysterical.]

What I saw was a perfect encapsulation of our girls’ precarious dilemma – all that troubles our beloved tween girls.

All that troubles my little girl.

Because as she trotted alongside her dad she let herself be a kid for a minute – risked her hair getting messed up. Risked her friends seeing. Risked play. Risked abandon.

And I wanted to hug her.

I knew the power of what I was witnessing. I knew how real it is to her. That moment of fear, of regret, of uncertainty “Did I do something wrong? I shouldn’t have done that.” It was all there, in that moment. The juxtaposition – the transformation – right before my eyes, in 3 seconds, from girl to young woman. Almost.

My little girl is there. Nearing there. Standing on the brink of adulthood. Teetering between freedom and restraint. Jumping up on curbs then looking around nervously. Wearing bows in her hair to look more “grown up.” Rolling on the ground like an insane puppy.

Pulling away sometimes.

Playing in the sand with buckets sometimes.

Holding me sometimes.

Patting her hair nervously sometimes.

Trotting along beside me.

Next month she turns 10...


Congratulations on the new baby! Are you suicidal?

by Janelle Hanchett

So a lot of people I know are having babies for the first time. And that got me thinking about the somewhat odd first conversation I often have with first-time moms…”Congratulations! Are you suicidal?”

Okay so I don’t exactly ask that directly. But I almost do.

And here’s why.

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child I was 22 years old, a senior in college, very, very wild, and very very not ready to be a mother. I had the kid because I loved the father  (and by golly I still do) and I didn’t realize how immature I was, because I was immature. All immature people think they’re mature. Bit of a vicious cycle really.

I mean I think that’s why I had her. I don’t really know why exactly. The alternatives just didn’t feel right.

So I began the journey and holy shit was I pissed.

And elated.

And pissed again.

You can read about all that fun here.

So when she finally came out things got a little bit funky. I loved her instantly – would have laid down my life for her the day she was born – could never imagine my life without her. But I was also R.A.G.I.N.G inside, at times. Or at the same time. Concurrently.

It’s really freaking weird. That postpartum depression thing is whack (to use the medical term).

I didn’t know what was happening and nobody mentioned it and I got sicker and sicker. I got so sick I thought if I told the doctor how I was feeling, the doctor would take my baby away. Those were some of the saddest days of my life. Terrifying.

Yep, people, that’s the way it rolled for me.

And then one day my toddler baby daughter cried and cried and wouldn’t sleep and I couldn’t take it one more moment and all those days of sorrow and insanity exploded inside me and I pinched her on the leg in anger. Then I fell to the ground with her in my arms, weeping and begging her to forgive me, realizing in that moment she would probably be better off somewhere else. I had intentionally hurt my baby and I didn’t care if the doctor took her away. (Incidentally, it didn’t even leave a mark on her. But it left a mark on me.)

So I went to the doctor and the doctor said “no more monkeys jumping on the bed.” No, she didn’t. She said “here’s some Zoloft. Take one a day and call me in a month. You have borderline postpartum psychosis but you’ll be fine.”

So I took the pills and I got much better and I survived. The end.

But…given this joyous history, I feel compelled when my friends or even semi-close acquaintances have a baby for the first time (because that first time motherhood is really somethin’) to talk about THEM, as individuals. How are YOU? I can see the baby is fabuloso. But you. Do you want to shoot yourself in the head? Are you wondering when your body is going to go back to normal? Are you searching for your identity?

Are you fucking flipping out?

Because in my case, I felt guilty and insane to have the feelings I had – everybody kept talking about how lucky I was and blessed and whatever – and what am I supposed to say? “Yeah, actually I’m drinking a 1/5 of vodka every night to cover up the fact that I’m really not digging this motherhood thing and if I had my way I’d be shooting pool shit-faced at the pub whilst smoking cigarettes and flirting with my man, as opposed to sitting here at this goddamned mother’s group talking about spit-up and nap schedules and tummy time with a bunch of overjoyed women I can’t relate to and who intimidate the hell outta me because they appear to have been blessed with the mothering gene that I am, obviously, lacking.”

No, I wouldn’t say that.

I’d smile and nod and act okay.

And get sicker and sicker and sicker, alone.

Because nobody talks much about how it sometimes effing BITES to have a kid for the first time. Nobody talks about the death that occurs with the entrance of this new life.


Yeah, I said it. Death.

And if you’re a mother, you know exactly who dies. The old you. The woman you’ve been your whole life. The identity you’ve nurtured and cradled. Your individuality (to an extent). Your freedom (to an extent).

You are a mother now. You live, all the time, just a little, for that baby. Even when you’re not with them, you’re with them. You may be at work. You may be at school. You may be 10,000 miles away.

But you are not alone. That baby is still with you. Your life is not your own anymore. Not entirely.

No matter where you go, you are tied. Forever. Forever.

Suddenly and completely and irrevocably.

And that, my friends, is fucking intense. No matter how “prepared” you are.

Don’t you think?

So we say goodbye to our old selves. The women we were. The little girl who became a teen who became a woman and then, a mother.  Never the same. It takes a little getting used to.

And it’s okay. It’s all exactly as it should be.

But some of us aren’t quite ready for that change.

I wasn’t.

I remember thinking I had ruined my life. Thrown it away. I wished I could just go back to my old body and my old life and my old existence. My old state of being. Selfish? Yes. Immature? Yes. But real. And serious. And true.

So I mention it to my friends. To give them an out, a window of opportunity – a chance to say “holy fuck what did I sign up for? I’m dying here.”

And I’ll understand.

And that time I spent in silence and pain and despair can be put to some good use.

Because in the end, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not one single bit of it.

Plus, I had two more, so it can’t be that bad. In fact, it can be downright lovely. And that’s the real message.