Posts Filed Under unenlightened parenting techniques.

Just knock it off with that healthy Halloween nonsense.

by Janelle Hanchett


There are times to be healthy.

Halloween is not one of those fucking times.

This is not the time for banana “treats” or berries in cute formations or gluten-free oganic bread in the shape of bats.

Popcorn balls are questionable, people.

Yeah. I said it.

This is the time for high fructose corn syrup.

This is the time for every and all other forms of processed sugar.

This is the time for preservatives. And if you can handle it, this is even the time for Red Dye #40.

This is the time to let your kids swim in the shit you look down on others for feeding their poor kids, who will surely end up obese, depressed, generally weird and probably not that bright. (I mean what chance did they have with such a lack of nourishment?)

I get it. You care about your kid. You don’t want him exposed to the deadly chemicals and additives and non-food “food” substances we all know are killing people, ruining our environment and funneling money into corporations with the morality of that “pastor” who wants to punch kids for acting gay.

Yes. I know. Even though it’s only one day out of 365, you’re such a diligent parent you need 365 out of 365 of good eating and thoughtful consumption.


It’s Halloween.

All people need to let loose sometimes. All people need to get all extreme and radical and shit, sometimes.

Do you really want to raise the person who’s all “Yeah, sorry. I can’t have a shot of tequila on my 21st birthday because hard liquor is excessive.”

Do you really want the daughter who won’t eat the triple-cream brie with her friends, even though it’s a bi-annual red-wine-and-bread-and-cheese event with her girlfriends?

Do you REALLY want the son who asks 97 questions of the poor waitress about every ingredient in the tacos (checking for GMOs, duh) and you’re all DUDE WE’RE AT A FUCKING TACO TRUCK but he’s all “doesn’t matter. I need 365 days of good.”

Do you really want the kid who refuses to do the keg stand?

Okay maybe that was a poor example.

Do you want the kid who only orders salads with dressing on the side no matter WHAT event is on the fucking line, even if it’s an anniversary or holiday party or a damn baby shower and the pregnant woman’s all “But I weigh the same as a small house” and your kid’s all “Yes, but I’m unwavering in my need for health. I need 365. Somebody else can have my cake.”

Nah. You don’t want that kid. You want the kid that knows what’s up. You want the kid that’s all “Oh yeah, ladies, I’m gonna regret this tomorrow but it’s my birthday and we haven’t seen each other in 2 years, SO POUR ME ANOTHER ONE.”

You want the son who’s like “Honey, I’ll be home in the morning cause it’s so-and-so’s bachelor party and I’ll probably have like 2 cases of beer and regret all life tomorrow.”

You want the kid who can live it up, eat it up, party it up when the time arises. A little flexible. A little wild. A little “God damn you people and your Cambozola and baguette. Yeah, I’ll have more.”

You want the kid who isn’t the one always doing the right thing, don’t you? I mean those people make us all want to die.

The mom whose critical eye makes mothers like me squirm. “Why did I grab the plastic rattle on this playdate? Why didn’t I choose the Amish wood one? Oh god help me!”

The mom whose kid is ALWAYS clean and the dad who NEVER feeds questionable foods and looks at you like “I’m struggling to understand your excessive deficiencies as a parent and human.”

The parents who are like “Yeah, sorry. Johnny can’t have a cupcake because we don’t eat food like that.” And you’re like “It’s a birthday party and Johnny is 6 and literally every other kid is having one…”

And then you just hope Johnny doesn’t end up wounding kittens.

I’m kidding. But seriously, you don’t want to grow the human who is just SO DAMN CONTROLLED AND GOOD AND RIGHT she can’t LIVE. Get wild. Live on the fucking edge. Make some mistakes. Regret some decisions. Roll with the day, moment, even if it’s not that bright.

Eat a pillowcase full of Halloween candy, because it’s Halloween, and it’s fun.

Irresponsible. Irrational. Downright fucking stupid.

This is the time for that.

Yeah, I said it: Sometimes life requires stupid. It requires irrational. It requires letting go of our deep way of living and just existing with others in an indulgent, relaxed way. Overeat. Eat shit. Drink too much.

And enjoy the rest of your days of moderation.

God knows we’ve got plenty of those bastards.

Sometimes it’s just about humanity: Stupid, glorious humanity.

And candy.

Am I the only one around here (Angry Walter)


Things that break my soul: Back to School Teacher Gifts

by Janelle Hanchett

Just when I think I’m doing okay as a mother, some soul-sucking invention launches itself in my face and screams “Oh no, bitch. You’re still wrong. You’re never gonna get this right.”


I saw those five horrid words strung together for the first time a few days ago and thought “Wait. That can’t be a real thing.”

It must just be some bullshit created by Target or Walmart to sucker us (through guilt) into buying useless crap for people who are probably wishing we’d all stop buying them useless crap. It’s an invented thing like “Sibling Appreciation Day” or health insurance company customer service. It’s not real. It’s an idea that nobody actually gets behind.

But then I see real live grown-up humans talking about ideas for Back to fucking School Teacher Gifts and I die a little inside because now I have irrevocable evidence that at least a few people think it’s a real thing.

Which means, of course, once again, I’m the freak.

Check it out. I’m gonna say this once and I hope it’s clear: I will never, ever buy a goddamn Back to School Teacher Appreciation Gift.


Because I’m a horrible human being. Let’s start there.

You know how my mind goes?

Why the fuck would I buy an “appreciation” gift for a teacher I do not yet appreciate? I mean seriously, how does that make sense? She could be like the worst teacher in the world. She could play favorites and my kid could be the non-favorite.

Or wait. Maybe that’s it: Is this gift to butter her up in advance so my child is undeservedly favored on account of the cute wooden apple paper weight I gave her on the first day?

Fuck that noise.

If my kids are loathed or adored it’s gonna be at their own hands. Master of their fates and whatnot.

Oh, come ON. I know it’s a “nice gesture,” and I know teachers are working way before the first day of school, and I know they don’t get paid enough and are doing some of the hardest work imaginable. Some of the teachers in my life were life-changing. Wonderful. I actually just tried to email my 5th-grade teacher a couple months ago to thank him, because he told me I had a talent in writing, and that I should always follow it, and he sent a story I wrote called “The Pig Family” into a local newspaper and it got published, and for the rest of my youth I thought in the back of my mind “I’m a writer. I’m a talented writer. Mr. Zuniga said so.” It’s like he said it and I believed it and it never left me. And look what I’m doing now, folks. How do you thank somebody for that? I love that man.

And some of my kids’ teachers have blown my mind with what they were willing to do for my kids. My daughter had a teacher last year who stayed after school on Fridays to read freaking Charles Dickens with her. Every week when it happened I just wanted to stare at her because I couldn’t believe the patience, devotion and kindness. My son’s teacher last year made my boy with dyslexia feel safe, protected, capable and confident in the classroom, and she did it purposely and knowingly, and he blossomed because of her, her insight, her gentleness, her care for my son. How do you thank people like that? My heart explodes. You better believe they got a letter from me at the end of the year.

Incidentally, I once threw a slumber party for 7 girls and had to sleep for like 9 days after it to deal with the shock of the annoyance of that many children. I have no idea how they do it.

But let’s be honest: Some teachers are mediocre. Some teachers totally fucking blow. Some show up every day dragging their scowling asses to the classroom because they are 7 years from retirement or have no better career ideas. I had a teacher in junior high taunt me for being the slowest runner during P.E. Honestly it was cruel. She did it front of the whole class, told me she had heard good things about me and was excited about having me in her class, but now she knows I’m nothing special. Ouch. And in 7th-grade, when my face was full of pimples and I was already a geeky poor kid.

What a bitch.

I’ve had teachers drone on endlessly about NOTHING, day after day after day, so clearly not giving a shit it’s ridiculous. I’ve had teachers only pay attention to the athletes or cool kids. I’ve had soul-sucking teachers.

So why do I have to get all excited about the possibility of a person doing their job well? I have an idea: How about you do your job well and then I will express my gratitude for it once I’ve developed a genuine respect for you?

Shocking stuff here.

See, I told you. Horrible human being.

Now, let’s back up.

Even if I had a heart, even if I could theoretically get behind this whole Back to School Teacher Gift nonsense, there is no way I could handle that shit logistically.

I had a hard time getting all the stuff on the four-mile-long, brand-specific, color-inch-line-spacing specific $100 supply list. [It was really only a page, but it felt like four-miles and it was definitely $100 for the two kids.]

Do you really think I can handle some “thoughtful little something” in addition?

I’m just trying to remember to make lunches, people. WORK WITH ME HERE.

Oh just buy a Starbucks gift card, you say?

Right. Yes. Easy. Except that we’re broke, and it’s rude to get something below like $10.00, right? I mean $5.00 buys a coffee, maybe two, but not even enough coffee for two people. So it’s really gotta be $10.00, because if we’re showing appreciation, what the hell does $5.00 say? “I almost appreciate you?”

“I sort of appreciate you?”

“I appreciate you but not enough to spend actual money on you, which brings us back to the whole ‘almost’ thing?”

But if I get $10.00 cards for both of my kids’ teachers, I’m $20.00 IN THE HOLE and them I’m just bitter, cause I can’t really afford that, particularly since I just spent $100 on supplies. So now I’ve started the year off spending money on a human I’ve never met in HOPES that he’s a decent teacher and won’t abuse my child or turn him into a Republican (That was a joke. Come on it was FUNNY. I’d much rather my kid turn into a Republican than one of those elitist, out-of-touch privileged yuppie liberals who think they’re all enlightened and against-the-system when actually their whole life is founded on the system they learned to hate in that liberal private girls’ college. I mean honestly. Is there anything worse? You’re right. Rush Limbaugh. Actually, nevermind. It’s up in the air.)

Nope. Rush is worse.

Back on track, Janelle.

I hope their teachers teach them to FOCUS.

So then I tell myself “Rage against the machine!” Fight the system! Live on the edge! Reject the Back to School Teacher Appreciation Gift!

And I think I’m secure in my decision, until it pops up again on my newsfeed. Again there’s an advertisement. Again there’s an Instagram of these super cute Mason jar cookie mix things with a paper-bag tag that says “Thanks, teacher!” and some raffia and a joyful mother exclaiming in the comment “I saw it on Pinterest!”

And I feel like a total asshole.

And I wonder what the hell is wrong with me. I mean really, “Why am I such a dick?”

I think I was born without the appropriate mothering gene, or at least the one required to participate in illogical activities grounded in niceness and generosity.

My God, there is something wrong with me.


Rage against the Back to School Teacher Appreciation Gift!


Here's something for your damn Pinterest board.

Here’s something for your damn Pinterest board.

To all you married people in their 30s “getting ready” for a baby…lemme tell ya somethin.

by Janelle Hanchett

When I was a kid, I used to say I was going to wait until I was 30 to get married. Then, a couple years later, I was going to have a kid or two, when I was all mature and stable and shit.

As you know, like most of my plans, that didn’t go well. I had a kid at 21 with a dude I had known for 3 months. Score!

So I realize my perspective may skew my understanding of the idea of “planning for a child,” or “waiting until you’re ready,” but I have to say, I find the whole process of “waiting until you’re ready” to be one of the most ridiculous endeavors ever invented, mostly because it’s an impossible task, and creates the horribly misguided idea that one can actually “prepare” for parenthood, or “become ready” for something that inherently negates any possibility of preparation because it involves a real live human baby.

It’s absolutely ridiculous. When was the last time you met a predictable human?

(Your mother DOES NOT COUNT.)

I’m not saying every 16-year-old should have a kid, or people without jobs or homes should be reproducing at random and hoping for the best. UM DUH. That’s way too much work. For them and for us.

What I’m saying is this: If you want a baby for real but you’re not doing it because you think a better time will come, let me be the first to tell you: THE TIME WILL NEVER COME.

You will never have enough money.

You will never have a stable enough marriage.

You will never feel grown-up enough to serve as the guiding light of hope and direction to a small innocent child who’s insane enough to think the sun rises and sets over your pert little ass.

Speaking of pert little asses, you will never be ready for pregnancy.

That’s a LIE! You’re ready now! Your weeping uterus is probably all “I must have baby,” which is precisely why you’re in this predicament in the first place.

But you won’t be ready to piss on yourself and do that throw-your-legs-over-the-edge-of-the-bed thing when you’re 8 months pregnant and need to get up for the 12th time that night, to pee, and your partner’s next to you snoring, undisturbed, and you’re like “Maybe if I smothered him nobody would notice?”

You won’t be ready to not see your toes for a couple months, or the look in your partner’s eyes as your boobs expand like porn balloons. Do those exist? Whatever.

You won’t be ready for the day you can’t buckle your own goddamn sandals anymore.

And friends, you won’t be ready for the body contortions and noises that resonate from the depths of earth and your soul as you push a baby out of a barely participating vagina.

You will never feel “good enough.”

When you meet that baby, you will no longer suspect you aren’t good enough. You will KNOW IT, because how could anything be good enough for the first perfect creature ever born? (Incidentally, that whole “perfect creature” thing will totally disintegrate by age 2, but I digress.)

Your ducks may be all lined up now, honey, but they’ll fly like feathers in a tornado the day that baby enters your world. Try. Give it a shot. Try to wedge that newborn into YOUR schedule and parenthood into YOUR vision of “the way it should be” or “the way I intended it to pan out.” Try to mold your kid into just what you had in mind and your partner into the perfect other parent, and you, chip away at yourself until you carve yourself into The Perfect Mama.

And then find yourself some whiskey, benzodiazepines, and a good shrink, cause you’re GONNA NEED THEM.

Do I sound negative?

Good. I am.

I feel like there’s a lot of misconception about child-rearing, much of it arising from bullshit societal notions that:

a.)    Having kids is fulfilling. It’s not. Becoming a whole person and being true to yourself is fulfilling. Kids only serve as a substitute for self-fulfillment for people who haven’t figured that out yet. There’s a line in a Margaret Atwood book (The Handmaid’s Tale?) where this girl says to her mother: “I am not justification for your existence.” BOOM.

b.)    Having kids is noble. Nope. Not noble. Just reproductive. Saving kids from a burning building? That’s fucking noble.

c.)     Everybody wants kids, or should want kids, and if they don’t want kids they’re a self-centered asshole. The only people who “should” have kids are the people who WANT THEM. How is that complicated? Personally, some of the people I know who have chosen not to have children have done so because they are TOO SELFLESS to bring a kid into what they believed was not the best situation. Self-centered? Nooooo. You know what’s self-centered? Bringing a kid or 12 into the world and then acting like you did THEM a favor by birthing them, like you’re some sort of martyr for a choice you made. Though I feel sorry for myself on occasion just like the best of ‘em, my kids don’t owe me shit and neither does the rest of the world. I’m not special and neither are childless people. Wait, hold on…gimme a minute….okay here we go…

“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

d.)    People without kids are missing out on a life with depth and meaning. Well, I guess that depends on how you define “depth and meaning,” but as far as I can tell, a life of depth and meaning is that which a person defines as “deep” and “meaningful.” And parenthood, of all the fucking endeavors of the world, is not inherently “deep” and “meaningful.” In fact, it appears some parents are actually detracting from the good of the world by reproducing. It’s as if they’ve gone out of their way to REMOVE depth and meaning from parenthood. Wait. Sorry. Was that my outside voice? MY BAD.

e.)    A kid is this thing you add to your existing life. Now this one’s gonna get me in trouble, but check it out: You don’t ADD a kid to your life like some sort of really expensive accessory. A kid transforms your life into an entirely new life, whether or not you are participating in this transition. [If you’re confused as to why this will get me in trouble, I’ll tell ya: People, guided by companies making A LOT OF MONEY off the idea, have convinced themselves parenthood is something that can be predicted, controlled and navigated in pleasant ways if you only buy, read, and do the right things. What are the “right things?” The idea that parenthood is a giant shit-storm of ever-shifting ground (LIKE THE REST OF LIFE) terrifies people, so they get really mad when you say things that threaten their fragile construction of security.]

And so, here it is, my dear friends waiting for the day…talking talking talking about kids, and waiting for that glorious moment when all the stars align perfectly and there’s just not a single thing left undone: All the places have been visited, all youth expired, the pinnacle of marital felicity reached along with a near-Yogi state of self-awareness, calm, patience. You’re in the best health of your life. Your 401k has hit $200,000 and your house is half paid off. Your car has an oil change and your diet is totally organic.

Here’s the thing…you can keep waiting, or you can realize the kid you have will be the perfect kid for the mess of your life. The perfect little crazy being to fit like a glove over the glaring deficiencies you were sure would ruin you. Not to fix you. But to hang out with you, just as you are, if you let him in and drop the fucking act. Just BE who you are and see you had everything you needed already, and maybe you were always “ready,” or as ready as you’ll ever be, for this kid, the perfect one for your family.

When I was pregnant, my midwife used to tell me I was the perfect mother for this baby. I believe that to be true, though please don’t ask me to ever raise somebody else’s baby. My kids have grown accustomed to my insanity, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

Like the missing piece you never knew was missing, your kid will just lock in and lock on and turn you into the human you had no idea you could become. And yet you’ll remain exactly the same, cause you are only you, after all, and your job is to love and support and teach until the day you let go again.

And no, you won’t be ready for that either. I sure as hell am not.

But if you want it, the universe is telling you: You’re already perfect for the kid you’re waiting for.

You’re a disaster. You will remain a disaster after your kid comes.

Together you will be disasters, together.

But you’ll be in love, and it’ll be alright, and maybe one day you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

I mean it is, after all, just a real live human being. disaster

“Work-life balance” and other lies (that can bite me)

by Janelle Hanchett

Why is everybody talking about “balance” all the time?

“Work-life balance.”

“Work-family balance.”

Balanced marriages. Balanced diets. Balanced checkbooks. Balanced attention to your children.

You know what? Fuck balance.

There’s nothing “balanced” about my life and there never has been. The only thing all this “balance” talk does is reinforce the validity of my suspicion that I am vastly underprepared for existence, or I’m living some whacked-out version of life in my own failure bubble. Both of those things may be true, but whatever.

Yeah, yeah, I know. There are nutjobs out there working 75 hours a week, existing on Jack Daniels and Ambien, working working working, never seeing their families, getting hypertension as we speak (but doing it in a brand new BMW!), etc. But check it out: if somebody is doing that for more than a year or so, they’ve got more problems that a “lack of balance.”

I’m talking about a regular old person just living a regular old life. Kids, work, marriage, social life.

I’m talking about the expectation that at some point things are going to smooth out into a “balanced” routine of kids, work, marriage, and social life.

It’s the biggest crock of shit ever. Life is never balanced. Life is constantly changing. That’s the nature of life.

Or maybe I’m just incapable.

I can tell you, though, after nearly 12 years hitched to the same dude, my marriage has never once been 50/50. One of us is always failing miserably in some department, and the other one picks up that slack. It’s 80/20 and then 20/80 and sometimes 95/5 (depression, anyone?). You know, like sometimes my husband can’t do anything other than work because he’s got some emotional stuff going on, or an early mid-life crisis based on some fear he invented in his brain, or he’s disillusioned with all the things and wants to join the pro-rodeo circuit. Or maybe I’m doing that exact same thing (sans the rodeo thing. But move to a yurt in Costa Rica? Totally into it.)

Or I’m pregnant. I ain’t doing shit when I’m pregnant. I’m growing a baby in my belly and pee on myself when I laugh. YOU CAN DO THE FUCKING DISHES EVERY DAY.

See? Not balanced. Sometimes I need him. Sometimes he needs me. But we never, ever need equally.

The only thing an insistence on balance does is turn my marriage into a giant score-keeping hell. I’m tallying it in my head “I cleaned our room twelve times. He did it once.” 12 to 1.

Mother fucker. I’m the better partner here. Instantly, miserable. (But god help me if he starts doing that: “Janelle yelled nine times today. I haven’t yelled since April.” I WANT A DIVORCE.)

And the work – family thing: I suppose we have a little more control in how much we let our jobs run our lives, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes, your job will run your life.

There will be that project from hell or that new boss that manages to suck your soul out of your body by the time you reach your cubicle. Or you’ll decide you want an M.A. in English and it will be finals week or you’re heading to a conference or you’re studying for the comprehensive exam.

You will miss family events.

You will not have balance. Your kids will suffer and whine and cry and miss you. You will drag your ass to campus with tears just behind your eye balls because it’s the 5th-grade awards ceremony and you’re studying postcolonial theory with a bunch of semi-conscious grad students.

And you do this for weeks, months, maybe a year or two.

Then you’ll open your Facebook news feed and see a helpful handy article “Five ways to maintain work-family balance” and you’ll smash your computer screen with your hardcover copy of Edward Said’s Orientalism.

And please, save me from the idea that my kids are going to get equal attention from me all the time. First of all, if there’s a baby in the family that whole thing is shot. You aren’t spending “equal” time with each kid. You’re spending all your time with the baby while feeling guilty that you’re not spending “equal” time with each kid.

You realize four days have passed and you haven’t spoken 20 words to your tween with nobody around.

You realize it’s been a week since your 7-year-old and you cuddled and read books in the big bed, like you used to.

And when this hits you, you drop your head for a moment and wonder what the chances are that your kids will end up even remotely well-adjusted adults. You give the baby to the husband and dart into the tween’s room, to have a conversation. You read the story to the boy.  Then you feel balanced for a moment. Or two.

But it’s gone again in a week or so, when the baby gets the flu.

And even if there isn’t a baby there’s always one kid who seems to need me more than the others. One is angrier than usual and I can’t figure out why. Ava and I are butting heads constantly.

Rocket isn’t learning to read.

Georgia keeps launching herself off the ottoman at the dog and I’m pretty sure one of them is going to seriously maimed.

Somebody’s sick. Somebody’s struggling. Somebody needs me more than they ever have.

It’s never equal. It’s never balanced.

It’s a giant cluster fuck of shifting ground and changing priorities. Just when I think I have it figured out I get thrown a fast one: my own health deteriorates.

My husband gets laid off.

I fall into a depression.

Or he does.

I realize I’d rather off myself than continue working at same job.

I go back to school, or finish.

My boy gets diagnosed with dyslexia.


You know what I think my job is? Respond to life as it happens. Stop expecting balance.

Wake up. See what needs to be done right now. Let go of the idea that my life should carry on in some neat, systematic way and that someday I’ll be meeting all the needs of all the people all the time.

As if someday my marriage will be totally equal all the time and my health will be solid (cause I’m exercising and eating a balanced diet) and my kids are thriving neatly (just as they should!) and my house is put together (but not too put together because one must not obsess) and I’ll go to work and “Leave it there” when I leave (cause one shouldn’t bring that stress home) and I’ll take my “me time” with my friends and husband (because mental health, people!).

Or I’ll realize shit like that only happens in movies and self-help books.

As far as I can tell, the expectation that life will ever be neat and orderly is nothing more than a path to unbridled misery. Life’s not going my way! So I exert myself more and more and more and it’s STILL not working so I try harder and harder and nobody’s responding and I’m getting crazier and crazier, until I’m the dude working 75 hours a week.

Because I need some CONTROL. I need a sense of SANITY. I need to feel SAFE. But it never works.

Or I resign myself to the chaos, the insanity. Burn the Self! Magazine and fucking self-help books from hell. Drop the expectation that things will ever remain stable, “balanced,” controlled. Forget the next approach. The next gadget. The next “helpful hint.”

I’ve got no control. Life occurs as it will, as it should, and the only time I can be effective anyway is to remain unattached enough to respond as it happens, shift in lightning-speed to the new priority, the new need, the thing that needs me now.

It needs me more than it ever has. It didn’t need me yesterday, and yet it’s taking all my time today. Wow. That ain’t balanced!

But I give myself anyway, say “fuck it.” Learn to maybe enjoy the way life just will not hold still. And trust that when I’m really blowing it, things will start to suck bad enough that I’ll change.

I know. I should be a life coach.

But really, maybe that’s exactly what “balanced” looks like (total lack of control) and in the end, we all get exactly what we need in the time and place and way that we need it.

Or maybe I’m just “unbalanced,” totally, in more ways than one…

and just crazy enough to not give a shit.

If you tilt your head to one side and squint, my yelling will look like “gratefulness”

by Janelle Hanchett

I would just like to announce that I have officially lost control of my children.

I thought I lost control when child 3 entered the world, but I hadn’t.

I lost it Sunday. Or at least I realized it Sunday. It was confirmed today.

You see, child 3 has grown old enough to follow the directions of her older siblings, which brings the number of insane noise-makers with remarkably poor judgment to THREE.

You know how many there are of me? ONE.

So we’re driving home on Sunday in our big-ass SUV and all three kids are lined up in one seat (long story), and they start having “fun.” You know, “fun,” as in the silly crap kids do that I’m supposed to think is “cute” but really I just find annoying, which simultaneously makes me feel guilty and inadequate, because as a mother I’m supposed to bask in the antics of my little ones, RIGHT? So I’m irritated, guilt-ridden and questioning my capacity for mothering while wanting to stab myself in the face. Just another day in paradise.

More on that later.

So anyway they get bored and start making Georgia repeat some line from horrible show like 27,000 times, and they’re squealing and laughing and making noises that remind me of what I imagine a donkey on meth might sound like. It’s as if the noises are actually SCRATCHING MY BRAIN OUT. Like I can see it in shreds at my feet. A big pile of it.

Ok that was graphic, but you feel me, right?

I gently ask them to settle down. IGNORED.

I sternly ask them to settle down. They’re quiet for approximately 47 seconds.

They giggle and start up again.

I look over at Mac (I’m driving, of course. I’m always driving. It’s not my fault the man can’t drive properly.), and you know what he’s doing? SMILING.

I swear to you he’s giggling. AS IF IT’S CUTE.

His eyes mock my agony: “Aren’t they sweet?” they seem to say, “Aren’t you glad we have kids?”

No joke, this strange species of human thinks this crap is charming. I want to kill myself and he’s looking at me like “Let’s have another, please?”

And that, people, is why my kids will always, ALWAYS like their dad more than they like me. On the plus side, I figure he’ll balance out my generally poor attitude and short temper. I mean one patient parent is enough, right? You know, to raise well-adjusted children? Let’s talk about something else.

So clearly he’s no help. I’m in this alone.

I plug in my phone and turn up Macklemore really, really loud, hoping to drown out the sound of their death screams. I meant “playful songs.”

Doesn’t work. Just gets them louder.

I tell myself I’m a rock in a stream.

I follow my breath like Thich Nhat Hanh says I should.

I remind myself it’s just 20 more minutes to the house.

Then I yell. Loud.

“BE QUIET! I can’t take this anymore!! NO MORE TALKING! NOT ANOTHER SOUND! The next kid to scream is doing an hour of chores when we get home!”

That shit used to work. You know what happened this time? They made church straight-faces for about 12 seconds then burst into laughter when Georgia announced “I pedo” (I fart).

And that’s when I knew: I’ve yelled so much they don’t even hear me anymore. Well shit, that’s rad. My kids have become immune to me.  Parenting WIN!

I recalled reading somewhere once that if you yell at your kids too much eventually they stop acknowledging your yells. Apparently that’s true. Who knew? Guess I’ll have to start some more advanced parenting approaches, maybe like, um, well fuck. I don’t actually know any advanced parenting approaches.

Please don’t share any with me. I have a mental block against improving as a parent. Actually I just hate helpful parenting advice. We’ve been over that. I much rather prefer blowing it enough times I give up and try something new.

Don’t ever say I don’t have a system.

So I resign myself to the chaos. I give the whole situation a mental “fuck it” and turn on Kingsley Flood (my most recent band obsession) as loud as I want, and start singing.

Eventually I forget the demon spawn. Sort of.

As we drive along my mind drifts to the words I’ve heard so many times: “Why do you have children if you’re just going to complain about them?”  Having just done a large amount of mental complaining about my children, the sentiment was particularly poignant.

You chose to have kids. Deal with it.

As if deciding to do something in life negates the possibility that that thing might get hard at some point, and you’ll want to express that. As if pursuing a path results in nothing but infinite joy as you follow it through the years.

You made this bed, sleep in it. Don’t expect us to listen to you whine.

And I wonder if this sentiment is equally distributed among all professions, or if there is a special expectation reserved for mothers, a special spot carved out just for us: Because we’re “mothers,” we’re “nurturers,” right?

And nurturers don’t want to launch themselves out of a moving Expedition on account of the horrible noises being emitted by their offspring.

They love that shit. They match chaos with fortitude, serenity, perspective.

They had these kids because they just love it. All of it: the noise chaos squeals cackling kicking crying and bickering. Obviously.

[Or, they marry a dude who loves it hoping he’ll make up for their deficiencies. I jest. I had no idea he was like that. ]

Well, check this out, my friends. I’m going to say this loud and clear: I don’t love it all. I particularly don’t love feeling like I’ve lost control of my kids. Some people are going to read this and say “Well, if she were a better mother she wouldn’t be having these problems.”


But the fact is I’m not a better mother. I’m this mother and my kids irritate the hell out of me sometimes and I don’t handle it well. I’m this mother and I don’t love every second of child-rearing and this is my job and sometimes it FEELS LIKE A JOB just like any other job a human might have, and if the world thinks I need to shut my mouth and suck it up like some grateful puppy begging at the door of my master, well the world can bite me.

Mothers are doing some seriously hard work, as hard as any work being done anywhere. And we won’t hide our sweat or shut the hell up because society thinks we should bow our heads in gratefulness at the profound opportunity to be mothers.

We are grateful, and it is profound. OTHERWISE WE WOULDN’T BE DOING IT – day in and day out. It’s not that we’re doing more or less than anybody else in the world. We are just doing a very particular kind of work, sometimes thankless work, and for some reason we face an expectation that we do it gracefully, gratefully, smiling, full of laughter and sunshine, all the time. Because it’s beautiful, pastel motherhood!

Frankly, it’s fucking ridiculous.

Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it’s raw and messy and real. And yet, I’m doing it. I’m always already doing it. Against my better judgment, I keep on keepin’ on.

As do you.

But we don’t have to do this alone, and we sure as hell don’t need to do it quietly.


Forgive us if our voices grate on your ears, upset your groove, irritate the living hell out of you.

We know how that feels.

We deal with it every day.