Posts Filed Under self-esteem corner.

that awkward moment…

by Janelle Hanchett

So you know how the kids keep writing those “awkward moment” cards, and you see them on Pinterest all the time – they seem to materialize out of nowhere and yet, there they are. Repeatedly. Yeah, well, I had an awkward moment recently and I’d like to share it with you.

To do so, I made an “awkward moment” ecard because I’m hip and cool (stop laughing) and all the cool kids are doing it. No really. Stop fucking laughing.

Yes, indeed. That is an awkward moment, and it happened to me recently.

My daughter, Ava, is 10, and she’s an amazing kid (right. as if I would have said something different) – very, very bright, witty, driven, sensitive and thoughtful – but she has a temper. Oh holy shit it’s a big one. Sometimes, when the stars are aligned just perfectly (or something), she loses her shit at her brother. She gets in his face and screams. She’s terribly mean, fuming with all kinds of rage in her voice “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!!”

And I get upset when she does it. She alarms me. The look in her eye is shocking, the rage in her voice disturbing. The other day she did it. I watched her tower in fury and her brother shrink into himself and I opened my mouth to stop her, but as the words were coming out…”Ava, why are you talking to your brother that way? Why are you acting like that?”…a blinking neon banner ran across my mind, the answer to my very own question: Because you, you fucktard, YOU act like that. She learned that from YOU.

And I realized I was punishing my child for acting exactly like me.

It was not a pretty moment.

You know there are things I do as a mother that fall into the “haha I’m a bad mother let’s all laugh” category. Like feeding them toast for breakfast 3 days in a row because I can’t get my act together to make real food. You know, no big deal kind of things.

But then there are bad mother moments that I’d rather not talk about it. The real shit. The seedy dark underbelly. MY OWN PERSONAL, SERIOUS FLAW AS A MOTHER AND HUMAN. (again with the all caps. why can’t I stop?)

And for me, it’s losing my temper.

Sometimes I raise my voice. Yeah whatever who doesn’t. But sometimes, oh sometimes, I lose it. I simply explode. I get in their faces and yell. And you know what I’ve said?

“What’s wrong with you?!!!!!”

I see their faces and I want to die. The fear in their eyes. The sadness in their shoulders. And I cave into myself as I’m doing it, trying to make it their fault, screaming while simultaneously totally aware that I am acting horribly but I can’t stop. Because I’m seeing red. I’ve crossed the line.

And when it’s over, I can’t stand the idea of myself.

Because I know I am the problem. It is not them. And it never has been. In those moments I use my power as a mother to bully them, because I’m bigger and stronger and louder and I think I have some right to dominate – to GET MY WAY – and I don’t mean to lose my shit…I do not believe this is an effective parenting method – this is not the person I want to be – but sometimes people I’m just so tired. And I repeatedly fail to take care of myself. I find myself tired and hungry and running late and headaches and noise and it all builds, builds, builds until. Something. Clicks.


And it isn’t funny at all.

 I walk away and breathe and I know I’ve blown it. I really fucked up.

I want to crawl in a hole. I cry. Invariably. I want to take them in my arms and beg them to forgive me.

But I don’t beg. I gather myself and I walk back and apologize for my poor behavior just like I would any person who I’ve wronged. I own my shit. I tell them I’m human. I tell them I lose my temper too, and I’m learning patience, just like them. And maybe we can work together on this stuff, both of us, all of us, trying to be better.

But I am the adult and should know better. And you are a wonderful child and this isn’t your fault and if I could figure out how to never do that shit again, my God I would so, so please, please hang with me little one, as I navigate this strange world of motherhood — where the stakes are so high and the guidance so scarce.

And I wonder what the hell is wrong with me.

Two days later I open Facebook and read a post from Peggy O’Mara of Mothering magazine that reads “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” and it becomes clear to me that mothers don’t do what I do. Mothers read things like that and they are filled with inspiration – they take that information and transform it into the elusive ability to only speak to their children in hushed soothing tones…good, wholesome words of support, to become a solid inner voice.

Me? I read things like this and think are you fucking kidding me? If this is true my kids are finished. Don’t put this crap on me. Don’t tell me I BECOME THE VOICE IN MY CHILD’S HEAD. I can’t be all there is! I can’t!

But if she’s right, if my poorest moments are the loudest voices in their head, if they sit in school and wonder “what’s wrong with me” because their mother said it a few times…if that’s true, well I’m going to give them the rest of the story, the other half: Your mother is a human being who is doing the best she can and loves you with every fiber of her imperfect being and so that voice, that voice that yells, it is only ONE voice. There is another. There will always be another. There is the world and god and there are grandmothers and teachers and friends and there is that mother who would lay down her life for you.

[Maybe while yelling, but still.]

The other day I called Ava after treating her poorly. At the end of our conversation I said “Ava, you are a great kid” and I said it with tears in my eyes and a cracked voice and heart.

She responded with words so full of love it took my breath away. Without hesitation, without affectation, she said confidently “And you are a great mother.”

I can only go forward. Each day, one foot in front of the other.

Moving toward becoming the person my kids already think I am.

Soule-Crushing Mama

by Janelle Hanchett


I used to stop by blogs like SouleMama. I would gaze at the beautiful pictures of gorgeous kids in handmade clothing doing soul-nourishing activities. I ogled at the gardens and hills and trees and lakes. My jaw fell in wonder at the knitted creations and felted little dolls, the gorgeous linens, wooden push toys and fireside gatherings…comforted by the earthy hue of their existence…all these beautiful people doing beautiful things in beautiful places. It all just seemed so mellow, so wholesome and good. like soul food in blog form. And for a moment, while reading, I’d think “Maybe I could do that, too.”

But then one day I read this post, and I haven’t gone back, because I can’t take it. It’s like a mirror to my own parenting deficiencies. Even though SouleMama specifically states that her blog is just a PIECE of her life, and there’s “raised voices” and messes in her house, I don’t believe it because I don’t see it. It’s my problem. Not hers. I mean that. If she pulls off the shit she seems to pull off, mad respect.

As the classic line goes…”It’s me. Not you.”

Only in this case, it’s actually true.

Here was the deal-breaker for me…

“On a recent day in December, on a day much like any other day this year, I watched as Calvin rose earlier than anyone else in the house to take care of his chickens. He opened the coop, changed the water, freshened the food, brought them scraps, and gave the bedding a stir. Coming back in, with his littlest brother just toddling into the kitchen, Calvin made them both breakfast. There was some reading after that in front of the fire, and a game of chess with his other brother. At midday, he volunteered to help his Papa   butcher the remaining turkeys, taking breaks here and there to work in his treehouse, and target practice on a bale of hay with his handmade bow and arrow. As evening neared, we left the house…stopping first at the local natural foods store where he sells his eggs. Proceeding into the city, my little guy joined his friends backstage and donned his black tights, ballet slippers and stage makeup and danced his way onto the stage.

In between those moments, I am certain that he also held the baby while I took a shower, likely knit a row or two on his scarf, probably ‘polished’ his Converse (yes, really), may have made his little sister an orange fleece hat, and definitely listened to some hip-hop.” (

And henceforth, in my head, every time somebody mentions SouleMama I think to myself…JOKINGLY, sarcastically, just for funsies…”You mean, Soule-Crushing Mama?”

Cause I read those lines and my mind goes like this:

Wait hold up. Your child got up by himself to do chores, cooked his sibling breakfast, volunteered to work, all by noon? He then played with a homemade bow and arrow, sold “his eggs” at a “local natural food store,” did ballet, built a treehouse, all while intermittently holding a baby, knitting, polishing his shoes and MAKING A FUCKING HAT?

And he did this in ONE DAY? And this is a day “like any other day?”

Holy mother of God I am doing something seriously WRONG.


Where’s the yelling? Where’s the cajoling? Where’s the mayhem? Where’s the bickering, exhaustion, whining?

I mean the sheer LOGISTICS of my life negate any possibility for a day like that one.

Are my kids the only ones acting like hyenas? Are my kids the only ones who chuck themselves on the floor in existential anguish when approached with the prospect of house work?

Where are the bad attitudes, the intermittent apathy, the “kids, please, just stop talking for ONE MINUTE because mom’s about to lose her shit” moments? Where are the temper tantrums, the messes, the screaming-matches? What about racing out the door, late one more time, and the baby takes a dump and you want to weep and the older kid won’t stop asking complex questions and the middle kid STILL doesn’t have his shoes on…?


So I conclude “Either those women are super-powered, or they’re lying, or I’m so deficient it’s ridiculous and my kids are horribly behaved and I’m an even worse mother than formerly thought.”

You see the only part of that day I can even remotely relate to is the killing turkeys part. My husband does that. He’s a butcher. On his family’s ranch. However, I can promise you people, my kids sure as shit aren’t volunteering to help work out there. In fact, they’d pretty much rather recite lines out of 17th-century metaphysical poetry. I mean it’s hard work, it smells like ass, and it’s generally either freezing or like an oven.

When I ask Ava to cook for the younger kids she acts like I just asked her to donate her hair.

We have all kinds of wool we could felt. It’s sitting on a shelf in the craft closet, where it’s remained for the past two years.

We knit. Bi-annually.

The other day I asked the kids to help me plant some flowers in the front yard. Ava responds “you mean, so we can NOT water them and they can die like all the other ones and we can do it again in 3 months?”

Well, yes, smartass, that’s exactly what I mean.

Even the 10-year old gets it.

And this, my friends, is the best I got, and it sure isn’t much – a fact that’s compounded in my brain when I read about a “day like any other” that strikes me as some sort of homemaking ethereal existence of joy.

And she’s like “It ain’t no thang.”

Now don’t misunderstand me. Not only do I have nothing against women like SouleMama, I’m so freaking JEALOUS I COULD CRY.  I support the over-arching values being conveyed by bloggers like that. I admire their work, their devotion and the ethics they reinforce. I admire their LIVES. As she says, they’re only sharing a part of their lives – not the whole story.

But there’s this whiny child in me….”I want my life to be that beautiful!!” I want my kids to wake up knitting shit for the baby and crafting archery tools out of native woods. I want to spin yarn and make jam from berries I’ve grown, sew bonnets out of organic cotton and sell eggs at local stores. That shit is wonderful. It’s beautiful. It’s GOOD.

But the reality of my life is that I live in a small, unimpressive agricultural town in a small, totally unattractive 1970s house next to a dude who drinks Budweiser in his garage all day, smoking Marlboro Reds and doing drunk yardwork. On the other side of me is some gathering of individuals who enjoy marijuana, screaming at their dogs and bad country music. I work. My husband works. All the time. And yet, WE DON’T HAVE ANY FUCKING MONEY for Amish pushcarts. Everybody on my street works, all day. My kitchen floor is linoleum. You can hear the freeway from my front yard.

But I TRY, people, I TRY. We got rid of our T.V. We don’t eat many processed foods. Almost all our meat is raised and killed by my husband, I hate American consumerism, we read lots of books, I breastfeed and cosleep and use cloth diapers (um, along with the “other kind”)…I try to engage my kids in imaginative play…I take them outdoors, camping, swimming…but check it out:

I recently came home to a note from Mac, regarding our dogs. It read “Laser needs to poop. Odie is constipated.”


You see, no matter what I do, my life just isn’t that beautiful. No matter how hard I try, it just isn’t aesthetically pleasing. It isn’t calm, wholesome or carefully crafted in gorgeous wood. It’s loud, messy, stinky and a little frenzied. It’s plastic and metal and occasionally, it’s frozen food. It’s a few successes and glorious days scattered among hours of messiness and rushing and struggling and flailing.

Those are the rhythms of my fucking day. Not exactly what the Waldorf dude had in mind, I don’t think.

Not because I love it that way, but because it just is. I read those blogs and I think “We should sell everything we own and move to Vermont and grow lavender.” But then I remember that this is where my people are, and I can’t leave my family, and my whole life is here. So this is it for me, for now.

Plus, we can’t afford a big old farm house in the country. Shit, we can’t afford to move anywhere. We can’t afford all wooden toys. And somehow, I can’t get my act together to even do ONE crafty project, let alone 6 in one day. And my children are pretty much always bickering and one day rushes into the next and I’m excited if I get two rooms clean or set up a little play room, or clean bags of crap toys out my house, or turn on some Jimi Hendrix while I clean, so my kids get cultured.

Basically, the women on these blogs are actually DOING the shit I pin on Pinterest and dream about.

So I don’t read that stuff anymore. Because even though it makes my heart smile, and I appreciate it, I just have to accept that my life isn’t that life, no matter how many Waldorf playstands I “pin.”

I am not talking shit about them.

I’m talking shit about me. About the fact that I can’t take it. About the fact that I can’t read those things and believe myself when I say “Janelle, it’s a BLOG. Nobody’s THAT PERFECT.” But they seem that perfect. They seem that capable. Their kids seem that good. All I see is pretty shit.

And clearly, my insecurities are just too big to expose myself to so much beauty. I should find it inspiring. But honestly, you know what I find inspiring? Going over to my lovely friend Kristi’s house, a Montessori teacher, and seeing the way she has crafted these simple, wonderful play spaces for her toddler, out of $10.00 Ikea items.

Because that, my friends, is within my reach.

And I like to stay within my reach. Well, at least close.

And I guess in the end, we do what we can do and appreciate our small, slightly pathetic attempts to nourish our souls, and those of our children.

Right where we are.


Do chores. Get lucky.

by Janelle Hanchett

The other day Mac and I did this thing where we flirt and tease all day, temporarily deluding ourselves into thinking we’re hot and have an active sex life.

Dad, please stop reading this post.

Anyhoo, you know, we taunt and whisper things and grab inappropriately. Et cetera.

As you can imagine, this is rather fun, and by the end of the day, both of us are ready for, um, the end of the day.

So a couple days ago we were doing the aforementioned let’s-pretend-we-just-met thing all day long. That evening I went out with a friend and didn’t get home until 11:30pm. The whole drive home I was imagining how I would wake him, a-hem – and what would probably follow. I went in the house ready to assault him.

But when I walked in the door I was assaulted. By the condition of my house. The front room looked like Toys R Us spun around in circles vomiting on the floor. The living room and kitchen were barely recognizable. The real clincher, however, was the animals. They were all pacing around like the walking dead, moaning and mewing and looking at me like “Please. Do something.”

I checked the cat’s bowls. Empty. I checked the dog’s. Empty. I checked the fucking rodents’. EMPTY.

Suddenly, I was not in the mood. What the fuck, husband. It’s 11:30pm and I want to ravage you but instead I have to walk around and feed the furry beasts. Even though you were here all night, and they were supposed to be fed HOURS ago…and I’ve been asking you for like 6 months to please help feed the animals on a regular basis…you still couldn’t do it and now, once again, at the end of my day, I have to do what was YOUR JOB.

Not hot, husband.

Not hot at all.

And as I finished feeding the last small mammal and felt the last spark of sex drive fizzle out through my toes, and my desire to do my husband turned into a desire to do in my husband, I realized how drastically my idea of “hot” has changed since I was like, oh I don’t know, 20.

Of course it’s a little hard to tell what I considered “hot” when I was 20, since my man of choice was whoever showed up after I’d had enough beers to make men start appearing hot (which may explain how pretty much NONE of them fit the “hot” bill the next morning….but I digress).

Despite this difficulty, I’m 99% sure “Hey baby, I fed the guinea pigs” would not have struck my former self as a turn-on.

But now? Oh yeah. Bring it.

What? You picked your stinky ass socks off the bathroom floor and put them in the actual laundry basket?

Come here baby. I got something for ya.

What’s that you say? You cleaned out the car and changed the sheets?

Take me I’m yours.

To illustrate, I made you a few graphics, which embody my current idea of the hottest shit in the world.

Yes, I realize this makes me pathetic and old and uninteresting.

Also, tired. Very tired. And with a thrashed house. So tired am I, in fact, and so thrashed is this house, that the thought of a man doing the chores they somehow can’t manage to figure out how to do on their own EVER. (I’m serious. What is wrong with them?!) like a giant hit off the love pipe. Like roses and dirty talk and sweat and red wine. Like oceans and whispers and bare muscular chests.

Like yes, please.

[by the way, if I’m the only one of you who finds men-doing-chores sexy, I will in fact off myself.]


Why yes.

Yes I do.



How Jessica Simpson became my new hero

by Janelle Hanchett

Well, now. That’s not a sentence you hear every day. Even Jessica herself might be a little surprised to read that one.

Or, perhaps even more alarming, she might not.

Anyhoo, the other day on the trusty cardio machine I was reading my trusty trash magazines and I saw a picture of Jessica during her baby shower. [Um, how much did she rake in for letting People Magazine cover that one?] And as I saw her I thought to myself “WOW. She’s gained some WEIGHT.”

And then I read that she served deep-fried Twinkies at her shower, which triggered in my trusty little brain a vague recalling of some chatter a few months back about how she said on Jay Leno that she was craving some ghastly brownie creation involving cookie dough and Oreos.

And all the sudden, I kinda started to like her.

I mean she’s not up there with like, say, Jane Austen or my grandma, but she’s further up than most famous pop singers.

Sure, I have never actually listened to a song she’s sung. (She does make music, right?)

And I don’t think I’ve ever actually watched a movie she’s made (there was that one with the car and water and super short shorts…that I never fully watched…Duke something?).

And she doesn’t strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed.

And I have a feeling we may have slightly different approaches to life (considering she sold her baby shower to People Magazine).

And I wouldn’t really suggest my daughters aspire to be like her, per se.

HOWEVER, despite all this, she’s my new hero – say, for the week – because she’s somebody in Hollywood who finally acted like a fucking human during pregnancy by eating too much and getting fat. Like the rest of us.


Finally somebody who doesn’t look like they’ve placed a small basketball in their Gucci dress and called it a baby, with perfectly toned arms/legs/ass/head (can a head be toned?)…happily announcing “I’m due any day!”

While we all watch, gagging from our living rooms at the sight of such horridness (I mean SHIT, ANGELINA, EAT)…sitting there 8 months pregnant and wondering how the hell we’re gonna get off the couch, since we just ate like everything and pretty much can’t move even when we haven’t just eaten. Everything.

Finally. A chick in Hollywood who gets fat like a normal person.

Oh yeah. Yeah yeah yeah I know. Health. Yes. Of course. Not every woman gets fat.


But most of us do.


Or at least, we feel fat. And we gain more than we wanted. And we don’t do Pilates and yoga and ride bikes and swim and eat quinoa and roasted eggplant til the day we deliver.

Most of us eat shit and get fat and hope to God that the whole breastfeeding-burns-calories theory holds water.

And so, I commend you, Jessica Simpson, for representing the poor choices women make during that special time. And for discussing it on national television. And in People Magazine. Even if you did get millions for it.

Of course, now I hear you’ve already sold your post-baby weight-loss journey to some weight-loss company, which means we have suddenly somehow already lost touch with one another, which is kind of sad.

We had some good times, you and I.

It was good while it lasted.

But no matter how thin you get, no matter how many 5Ks you run 4 months after your baby’s born, no matter how soon you divorce your latest flavor, and no matter how BAD your next entertainment endeavor is… I’ll always remember you as The Actual Hollywood Human Female who ate horrible things during pregnancy, got fat, and admitted it.

Like the rest of us.

So cheers to my new hero.

Gooooooo Jessica!


Did I really just write a blog post about Jessica Simpson being my hero? Somebody help me.


It’s not that I hate homeschool. Oh wait. Yes it is.

by Janelle Hanchett


Alright. I’m gonna let something outta the bag. I hate homeschooling. No, rephrase: I hate homeschooling at this particular moment of my life with the particular arrangement I’m facing.

Allow me to paint a picture for you.

It’s 8am. I have just dropped older kid off for school. We are now home. I have managed to feed the kids, get them dressed, have a cup of coffee and we are ready to start homeschooling. I excitedly tell Rocket “Okay, it’s school time!” There’s so much enthusiasm in my voice I make myself nauseous. But I want him to feel excited. He looks at me with disdain and BEGS me not to make him. He whines. I tell him “We’re gonna have fun!” His body contorts into a position that speaks his mind “I’d rather die than do homeschool with you, woman.”


He reluctanctly rises. We go into the homeschool room. He’s dragging his toys. I make him leave his toys. He puts them down and kicks them. They knock something over. I get annoyed. Georgia is stomping with her standard frightening determination.

Georgia goes straight to the work table, climbs up the only chair Rocket will use and begins chucking things off the table. I move her, try to entertain her with one of the SEVENTY-FIVE FUCKING THOUSAND other toys in the room. She has no interest in them. That’s because she’s 20 months old. She must be with us. Near us. ON US. I know today is going to be like every other homeschool day – HELL.

We sit down. He rolls his eyes. We get the books out. We work on our letters. Every step, every activity, every moment feels like dragging a loaded wheelbarrow through knee-deep mud in the pouring rain. He resists everything. The only thing he wants to do is science projects. We can only work in 5-minute intervals because he can’t focus longer than that on shit he doesn’t care about (if one of you tells me he has ADD I will in fact HUNT YOU DOWN).

And while he’s resisting, while he’s ignoring and flailing and daydreaming and fidgeting and selectively listening and zoning out…Georgia is going batshit crazy. She’s climbing up my lap and tearing things off the table. She’s scaling his chair. She’s biting his knee. She’s pulling the trash can on her head. She’s drawing on the dollhouse with permanent marker. And if I divert her? She’s screaming.

So I have this kid who would rather stab himself in the eye than do schoolwork and this toddler who would rather stab him in the eye too, and neither of them are budging and the moments are crawling and we’re making no progress and my patience is waning and I’m trying to keep a 6-year old engaged and a toddler away from him and not dead and I am failing on every front and putting out fires as they come. and BOOM! One minute I blow. I can’t fucking take it.

I walk out to breathe. I walk out to gather myself lest I run full-speed out of this damn house FOREVER and quite possibly, into oncoming traffic. But we’ve only got two hours because in two hours I have to leave for class or work and I’ve got papers to write and classes to prepare for or maybe a conference call and oh yeah, a shower to take. OMG it never ends. I have to do this. I don’t have time to do this. I don’t have TIME TO DO THIS.

And yet, I must do this. I committed to do this.

I think I made a mistake.

I’m not cut out for this homeschool thing. I think that’s the truth. I think I could do it if I weren’t in grad school and working, if I could do it in the afternoons when Georgia naps – if homeschool/home-making is all I did.

I feel like I failed my son. Like I made him a promise and broke it. Like I thought I could serve him well as his teacher but I just could not. And now I’ve wasted his time and mine and my heart is breaking, as usual, with that feeling of remorse for letting time pass and not quite cuttin’ it.

It’s breaking because I already miss it. And yet my GOD I won’t. We only have a couple months left. He’ll be going to regular school in the Fall. And I KNOW that as I drop him off each morning I will miss him, miss him hanging out, missing him by my side. Miss him.

But there is this thing I try to live by called “honesty” and sometimes it requires facing some facts about yourself. What I’m facing now is that I’m not a good homeschool mother.

In the interest of honesty, though, I gotta admit, there is one area I haven’t failed in. And that area is fun. We’ve gone to 10 plays together. We get discounted tickets through his charter school, and we haven’t missed one.

And so we’ve gone together, just he and I. And he sits on my lap through the whole thing and we watch theater and we laugh and I kiss his head and ruffle his unruly curls.

And I love the time I’ve had with my son. And I’ll never regret it. And someday I’ll accept that old saying, that old truth that feels like a copout until it fully sinks in, the honesty of it, the truth of it…that I did the best I could.

And maybe, inside, deep in his little soul, he knows it.

And he’ll remember moments like these…