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

the letter i had to write once

by Janelle Hanchett

Dear Rocket,

You came into this world the way you’ve remained, perfectly.

You came two days before you were due (always the gentleman), in a birth that felt like the sunrise. “Turn around,” she said, “pick up your son” and you swam and I lifted and kissed you and we locked eyes and you took air and took me. Pink ball of perfection. They asked me how I felt. I said “elated.”

You were so beautiful you took my breath away. How could it be?

This boy.

My son?

My son.

Your sister named you “Rocketship” before you were born. Rocketship “Rock on” MacDonald, to be exact.

It stuck.

I dressed you in blue. Your hair was red and blond with ringlets, eventually. You didn’t talk much or cry very often. You smiled and rolled around and climbed and grew. You slept on daddy’s chest.

And grew.

Until you had Chuck Taylor’s and a newsboy cap and words and freckles across the bridge of your nose (which destroy me, by the way).

Once, I walked in from work and you were two and you ran to me in elation, threw your arms around my neck as I knelt to you. You whispered “Mama, home.”

Let me always be home for you.

Let me get on my knees and feel your words across my cheek.

You turn 6 tomorrow.

My awe has not diminished. Your sacredness rests undisturbed. You won’t ever understand, little one. And that’s okay. You shouldn’t. You may get a glimpse when you have a daughter, but you’ll never quite know –what a boy means to his mama.

Tomorrow you turn 6.

The birthdays hurt a little.

Because I remember when you were 18 months old I got sick and was lost and I left you. For two years I left you. For two years I couldn’t see and I ran searching for something, stopping by as mama, holding you in the night sometimes, when the whiskey hadn’t taken me completely, crying softly in the folds of your neck as you slept, begging for a change and dying.

How did I go so long?

How did I not see?

That all I needed and all I sought and all I was dying for rested in the freckles across the bridge of your nose. In the little feet that ran to me. In the blue eyes that forgave me as I walked away again.

Without a word you explained — if I could only see you clearly for one single moment,

I would know freedom.

And finally, I saw.

But that time still sits like a boulder on my chest. Like a thousand pounds of granite grief. Of the time I missed. Of the boy who missed me.

But this isn’t a sad story.

This story ends in joy.

In you and me and a homeschool room (screw reading, let’s make messes) and stories in the “big bed” and breakdancing and Modest Mouse and mohawks, and baking cookies and sand and dirt and Transformer pajamas and stuffed seals and farting noises and you and me.

A boy.

And his mama.

Who’s home.

Happy birthday, little man.

Here’s to the rest of the story.

Happy 1st birthday, Georgia Ann.

by Janelle Hanchett

Yesterday was Georgia’s first birthday. I can’t believe it. It seems like yesterday I was going through this to bring her into the world. It’s amazing the way the universe gives you what you need. Whether I know it or not at the time, I am learning what I need to learn, gaining what I need to gain, suffering in ways that will help me grow the insight or perspective or balls to face something that’s coming my way…

Georgia’s birth was like nothing I could have ever imagined. (Read about it HERE.) I could spend a whole page or a whole day attempting to explain to you what it felt like, what it was from my perspective, but my words would fall short; they wouldn’t come close to capturing the experience.

I suppose the closest thing I could say is this: I COULD NOT DO WHAT I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO DO. I did not have the power. I simply did not have it in me. I had reached my maximum. My height. The culmination of all my strength – I was giving it everything I had – and my baby was not coming out.

And YET, there was nobody else who could do this work.


So I stood in excruciating pain, facing a weird sort of existential moment: do something beyond my capacity, or die, I guess.

We weren’t on the brink of dying, at least I don’t think we were, although the cord was around her neck twice and she came out blue, so perhaps I “knew” something without knowing it. But it was all very black and white: To be free from this pain, I must do this. But I cannot.

I felt somewhere deep inside me that one of us was going to die if I didn’t make this happen.

My terror was beyond words. I felt I had fallen into an abyss of black but was powerless to crawl out. I wanted out. I just wanted it to end. I wanted some other reality. I wanted to ESCAPE.

But I could NOT escape. The only way to make it end would be to birth this baby…but I could not birth this baby.

But I had to.

But I could not.

But I’m going to die from this pain.

But I can’t make it end.

I have to make it end.

But I can’t.

And on and on like this I went.

For hours.

Until finally I got insane. I simply lost my mind – pulled from the recesses of my soul. Pulled from everything I had ever known and ever lived – everything I ever faced and overcome – everything I had ever feared and conquered – every rage I’d ever felt – every furious moment of passion or disbelief or sorrow or joy – I pulled it all.

And I pushed that baby out. That baby who was “undeliverable”. That baby who was 10 pounds with a head cocked to one side and tilted up – a position that would have required a cesarean had I been in a hospital. She came out in such a weird position I thought her head was a rectangle as she was emerging – I remember thinking to myself as I touched her head “She has a rectangular head. Weird.” (That’s how out of it I was.)

But when was she born I was born.

When her body flooded pink with life, blood surged through my veins.

When she took her first breath in my arms she filled my lungs.

And I was ready.

Ready for that which I cannot do.

Ready for what it means to be the mother of three.

Ready for quitting my job without a safety net.

Ready to go back to school, follow my gut instead of my mind.

Ready to homeschool my son.

Ready for my life, that I didn’t know was my life…until now.

So thank you Georgia. Thank you, precious, sage little one.


You made me what I am. You showed me what I can do. You lifted me up. Made me a mother again.


10 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | August 6, 2011

Spill post #2: Never Thought I’d See the Day.

by Janelle Hanchett


I am not one of those parents. I am not not not not not not.


 Yeah, me neither.

 Especially when I consider my recent decision to homeschool my son, Rocket.

 I’m so granola I should be in a bin at Whole Foods.

Next thing you know I’ll be growing armpit hair and knitting a hemp beanie for my kid, Moondance.

Or, maybe you’re thinking I’ve been BORN AGAIN. I’ve gone so religious I suddenly realize I’ve been “called” to shelter my children from the devious fingers of the DEVIL – protect them from the unrighteous (you know, gays, drugees, drunks, atheists, agnostics, Muslims…[fill in the blank]) – um, yeah fucking right. That definitely isn’t it. I’d choose the deviant outliers over the judgmental born-agains any day of the week.

I have decided to homeschool Rocket because regular school was totally and completely not working. Check it out: he’s almost 6 years old and he can’t read. Doesn’t want to read. Has no interest in reading. This may be because he’s dyslexic, which wouldn’t shock any of us, considering he has a genetic disposition for it and has shown other symptoms, OR he just, um, has no interest in reading yet.

Either way, teachers are obsessed with kids LEARNING TO READ. Must LEARN TO READ. Must learn to read NOW. Must learn to read NOW or something is WRONG with you.

And Rocket is not learning to read.

And he is not an idiot. He knows the other kids are learning to read.

And he is sensitive.

Remember The Seal Incident? Yeah, the kid feels it when he can’t perform. He feels it when he’s let others down, acted poorly, failed to meet expectations.

The result of this scenario? My little guy comes home from school nearly every day with a migraine headache. Nearly.Every.Single.Day. Five years old. Wracked with anxiety.

Yeah, no thanks.

I opt out.


Please remove me from your mailing list.

Thank you for your time, traditional schooling, but we’ll be pursuing other options now.

We considered Waldorf or Montessori – too expensive. We considered sending him to regular school and just hoping he’d handle it one way or another, but there’s a problem with that approach, namely that every day, Rocket walks away with one message: “I’m not good enough. I’m not as smart as the other kids… What is wrong with me?” And I’m pretty sure that message will play over and over and over until finally he gets tired of the sound of that noise, gets tired of the feelings it triggers…tired of the whole thing…fed the hell up…and then the tape will probably play a new tune, maybe going something like this: “Screw school. I hate it. What I want is the HELL OUTTA HERE as soon as humanly possible and until that’s possible, I’ll just sit here and mess with the other kids, sniff glue, and/or work on my Early Expulsion Strategic Plan.”

So there you have it. I’m quitting work, returning to grad school and homeschooling my son.

That’s it. That’s all I got. My shit’s spilled.

Good lord I am not the homeschool type. But what the hell am I supposed to do? I’m no genius, but shit, even I can see that some things just aren’t working.

This was not, ever, in my plan. From my perspective, the payoff for the toddler years is that when they’re over, you get to send the kid to school all day – in another building – bye bye. But this was clear. I had to reassess.

I’m just trying to do what’s best for my little guy. Trying to find something that works.

And relying heavily on the fact that it’s kindergarten. I mean shit, how hard can it be?

I remember kindergarten. We cut out shapes and laughed at the kids who wet themselves. Oh wait. Maybe that was my first year in the dorms. Whatever.

We’ll survive.

Because her mom thinks she’s fat.

by Janelle Hanchett

The other day, while enjoying a cookie, Ava says “Mama, wanna hear something sad?”

And I’m always up for a little sadness, so of course I respond “Yes.”

And she says (and names have been changed to protect the innocent) “Jessica doesn’t eat sweets. She isn’t allowed to because her mom thinks she’s fat. Today at school she wouldn’t have a cookie and when I asked her why, she told me that.”

Oh boy.

A “fat” nine-year-old girl.

And one of those women.

I want to cry a little, rage a little, break a couple faces.

Because first of all, I know this girl, and she isn’t fat. She’s isn’t a rail, she’s not one of those super scrawny kids, and perhaps she’s holding on to a bit of that baby chub, but SHE IS IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM FAT. I’ve seen obese kids. She ain’t one of them. She’s healthy, normal. The non-rail shape of her body is clearly, um, just that, the shape of her body.

In a word, she’s adorable. She’s lovely. And perfect – as most kids are, when fed decent food and allowed exercise and access to the outside.

And I’ve seen her mother. Her mother is a rail. Her mother wears tight jeans, small tops and heels pretty much always. Her mother is gorgeous; she turns heads. Very sexy. Very into her appearance. Lots of make-up, always put together – the type of mom I look at and compare myself to, thinking “Damn. I remember 10 years ago when I was hot like that. Wish I still was.”  And I feel not quite good enough, which of course is my own issue and another blog post.

And obviously, her daughter just isn’t quite good enough.

She isn’t the vision her mother expected. She isn’t the dashing beauty her mother had hoped for. She isn’t the stunner her mother is. And she’s disappointed.

So she begins her attempt to mold. To create. To construct. To form her into…what…what was it? Oh right…her idea of beautiful. Of sexy. Of hot.

Forget the child’s soul. Forget her spirit. Forget her value as something other than a body, a dude magnet, a little hottie.

Forget all that. Teach her that what matters is her appearance. Her sexual prowess – her outsides –the way the world views her attractiveness, rates her, judges her.

Teach her to rely on her sexiness and good looks, teach her to define herself completely through something that will ultimately abandon her, fade, whither, leaving her wondering “wait. I’m not the hot girl anymore. I’m a mother with a bit of a pooch…I’m an older woman with saggy boobs…WHO AM I NOW? WHAT AM I GOOD FOR NOW?”

Now don’t misunderstand me. Avoiding a lot of fat and sugar and junk food is (obviously) an excellent and critical habit to teach a child  – but because it’s HEALTHY. Because it’s good to have an active, thriving body, energy and stamina, and a clear, alert mind.  Clearly our bodies should be nourished and treated well and respected. But telling your young daughter that she can’t eat a particular something because she’s FAT will never end in good.

The take away for the child is singular: my mom thinks I’m ugly. Not good enough. Defective.

I’m pretty sure that the mother’s emphasis on her daughter’s weight will result in the exact outcome she’s trying to avoid: emotional eating, dependence on food for something other than nourishment…and obesity. Or anorexia. Or bulimia.

It will result in self-hatred.

Because right now that little girl is still trying to please her mother. When all the other kids are eating a cookie in celebration of a birthday, Jessica denies herself, because her mom thinks she’s fat. But one day in the not too distant future, Jessica’s going to take a look at her mother and say to herself “Who the fuck are YOU to tell me I’m fat? Who the hell are YOU to judge me?” AND SHE’LL EAT EVERY DAMN COOKIE IN A 5 MILE RADIUS, just to prove a point.

But that message will remain, deep, deep inside: I’m ugly. Not good enough. Defective.

Might as well just keep on eating. Or starving. Or binging.

Because I wasn’t good enough for the ONE PERSON WHO MATTERED MOST.

How could I ever be good enough for me?


….Oh, man, let me tread lightly with my little girls – help them see the light burning within them. Untouched, undiminished, unchanged by the passing of time, by the sagging of boobs, by the stretch marks, by the belly that pooches a little…falls over our jeans in all its unsexiness, though it falls in the shape of a cradle, of the womb that once held her in sweet whole embrace. my own chubby, perfect daughter.

Pardon Me, but there’s vomit on your Chanel

by Janelle Hanchett

A few weeks ago I joined Twitter. I know. I know. But if I’m going to make the effort to write the damn blog, I need people to actually read it. Therefore, I’m like totally into social media (hair flip, valley girl accent). Anyway I have been seriously amused by the Twitter bios. If you’re not familiar, I’ll explain: you have 140 characters or some other nonsense to write a little bio, and it shows up next to your ‘avatar’ (profile picture), all of which is intended to catch people’s interest so they’ll ‘follow’ you. Whatever. I didn’t make it up.

So you scroll down the list of prospects and click on people who seem interesting or like-minded or whatever you’re into and it kills me the stuff people put up there. There are of course the born-agains, the sober people, the shock-factor people (“anarchist mother of two who yearns to piss you off and eat your young”), the granola moms with their damn acronyms ( SAHM, BF, CD-ing, AP, NoVax), and the ones who are ooooo sooooo baddddd (“I drink whiskey, have tattooed arms and say fuck a lot.'”). But lately my favorites are the fancy and [evidently] well-dressed women who write things like “fashion savvy mother of two” or “hip mama in stilettos” or “fashion-conscious San Diego mother of four. You’ll find me drinking cabernet in my Chanel.”

Now I have nothing against these women. I just can’t for the life of me understand how they do it. I mean, the sheer logistics of my life negate any possibility of my wearing $600 sweaters. Or stilettos.

First of all, my day almost always involves some sort of bodily related emission ranging from drool to breast-milk to things I’d rather not discuss. And I think I’d be really disturbed if indeed there was vomit on my Chanel. Or maybe part of wearing Chanel is the ability to afford Chanel, which brings me to another reason I wear Old Navy…finances. No need to expand that topic. Speaking of expanding, let’s be honest, I’m too fat for designer clothes. Yeah. Some of us missed the memo about exercising after childbirth. [I do, however, breastfeed a lot, which I hear burns about 12,000 calories a day, so I should be covered.] But even if I had money and a life without random excretions and they made fat people Gucci, who the hell has time for that kind of effort?

Now don’t get me wrong. I have standards. I shower. I wear clean clothes. Mostly. And if I don’t have any, I very carefully sift through the hamper, thoughtfully contemplating my choices until I locate something without visible stains or an overtly unpleasant aroma. I mean that can take a while. And I absolutely draw the line at wearing maternity clothing past 7 months post-partum. I only wear flip-flops in light rainstorms and I’m perfectly willing to iron a piece of clothing for a special event. Like a wedding. Or a funeral. Of somebody I really care about.

Perhaps they are experiencing some other version of motherhood.

Or maybe they aren’t. In that case, I kind of admire them. Though I think it’s a little obnoxious to walk around flaunting one’s thinness and general health etc. by looking all hot with a 2-month old, I think it’s pretty cool when women take care of themselves for real after having a baby. Most of us generally feel like we’ve been hit by a Mack truck after giving birth and this feeling sort of continues for, oh, I don’t know, forever. And our appearances may reflect this feeling.

Plus, if you’re like me, you look back on your “pre-baby” days as your “hot days” – and, since that ship has sailed (far far FAR away, replaced by, well, not hotness), you figure you might as well stop trying. And since most of us don’t have a nanny, cook, housekeeper (or three), rich-ass husband or even the inclination to drop thousands of dollars on fancy labeled clothing, the statement “Pardon me, but there’s vomit on your Chanel” probably won’t be sent our direction anytime soon. However, most of us are able to put a little thought and time into ourselves, in whatever way we like to put time and thought into ourselves, and I think there is real value in this, in taking care of oneself before being expected to take care of others.

Because if my well is dry, I’ll have nothing to give.  And if I have nothing to give, but am forced to give any way, things go poorly. Understatement.

So here’s to my version of Chanel and stilettos, and yours, whatever that looks like.

Because I’m good enough and smart enough and gosh darn it, people like me.

BuahHAHAHAHAHAHA! (sorry. the Stuart Smalley thing was funny.)

plotting ways to stain my clothes

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