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

my 9-year-old has lost her mind

by Janelle Hanchett

My daughter, Ava, turned nine last November. I think the cake was laced.

Or she’s been possessed. Jury’s still out.

I read at some point about the “9 year change” – basically it’s a second major separation from the parents (following the one occurring at around 2 years), but it’s a sort of existential separation, where the child realizes she is not only physically separate from her parents (mother mainly), but also mentally and emotionally distinct. It is an awkward, precarious, questioning time resulting in mood swings and a lot of boundary-pushing. Some nine-year olds begin to contemplate death – including their own (which seems weird. I didn’t realize I was going to die eventually until I was about nineteen, while sitting under a tree in the quad in college, but by then I had discovered Captain Morgan and Hemingway, so it all seemed rather irrelevant).

Anyway, whatever the psycho-babble explanations, my kid has turned into a complete whack-job. One moment she is calm, collected and really quite grown-up, discussing relatively mature topics in an engaged, humanlike way. Five minutes later she’s giggling, flailing about and uttering strange sounds in a manner so goofy I can’t decide if she’s cute or has some sort of formerly unrecognized handicap.

My aunts, who’ve each had a small army of children, assure me this is normal.

And I’m sure it is. The aunts also muttered something about prepubescent hormones (which, as I stated in this post, can kiss my ass) and I’m sure they’re right about that too. But I don’t want to talk about the fact that my baby girl who isn’t a baby girl at all could potentially in a couple years be faced with her biological make-up in a very real way and I may actually implode upon myself in grief, denial and fear.

I think this is an exaggeration, but one can never be sure.

What I want to talk about is the fact that my daughter sometimes irritates the living hell out of me and no, there is no gentler way to put this. And I don’t mean irritated like “wow, that’s kind of annoying. Wish it would end.” I mean irritated like a tag tickling the back of your neck, like an itch on the bottom of your foot, like I don’t really want to be near you irritated. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it comes, whoa. Look out.

It makes me sad to feel this way.

I don’t know what’s happening here and I don’t like it and I’m pretty ashamed. Do good mothers feel this? Probably not. Good mothers probably have the maturity to recognize the brevity of the whole situation. They are probably less selfish and ego-centric, which enables them to be patient, forgiving and understanding with the kid, rather than short-tempered, visibly annoyed and retaliatory.

I ask her nicely. She ignores me. I get mad. I yell. She responds or doesn’t. Or she screams and storms off or she cries or gets hysterical. And my heart breaks.  Sometimes I’m a bully. I use my power as mother, use my strong voice and body to control and make things change and get what I want. Then I apologize, having acted poorly.

It’s a different feeling than the irritation I feel when Rocket is still naked after 25 minutes of coaxing to get dressed, or Georgia decides to nurse the instant I finally get up to take a shower. It’s a separated irritation. It’s a real irritation. She annoys me like other adults annoy me. And this is strange because she isn’t an adult. She’s not even a little adult. But she is. But she’s not.

Oh, Ava, I love you.

What burns child is that you’re walking right away, just as you should. I feel the world and time and biology pulling you down the hall, closer to the door, someday you’ll cross the threshold. But I want you to stay inside, baby girl. With me. Here at home. Right by your mama.

We’re separating, she and I.

I try to enfold her in arms that don’t quite reach any more.

Everything about her demands distance. She occupies more space physically. She has her own interests. Often she prefers being alone in her room. I see her thinking and contemplating things in there, by herself (objects or photos or books but rarely dolls any more), checking in occasionally to see what I think. Or not. She has real smells like real adults (bad breathe and sweat and stinky feet and unwashed hair). She is not uniformly pleasant any more.

Screw you, biology. Give me my baby back.

No, don’t.

Rather, God, give me the strength to love her as she needs me now. And I promise I’ll get used to this.

It’s funny how nature knows how to baby-step a mother and child into separation – knows how to make a kid just big enough and strong enough and smelly enough and annoying enough that separation becomes even slightly palatable to the mother. What a stark contrast to the way I feel about my infant Georgia, who is so luscious and aromatic and infinitely attractive in absolutely every way that I want to eat her sometimes – literally consume her! – because I just can’t get close enough.

So little Ava, I guess the deal is that you will remain forever stitched into the fabric of my soul, though you are no longer hanging on my coattails.

Huh. Guess I did want to talk about it.

there she is.

what I learned this week

by Janelle Hanchett

I was very tired this week and have a sudden and new appreciation for Virginia Woolf. Eighty years later, evidently women still need “500 pounds and a room of one’s own.” (translation: I am having a very hard time finding uninterrupted moments to write with all these loud needy short people running around. I have six un-finished blog posts.  I have twelve drafts rolling around in my head. And this is all I’ve completed in 4 days. Good thing I committed to writing a ‘what I learned’ list each Sunday, otherwise we may have had a zero completion rate (shocking, sad, tragic I know).   

Anyway, here’s the deep-reflections-on-Sundays list.


  1. There’s a weird one-upping phenomenon among mothers that I’ll never understand but will always find frustrating and pointless and unsettling. Depending on the context, it can center around who’s kid does what the soonest, which mother is the most granola/green/crunchy, who’s the most ‘educated,’ who’s the most open-minded, who’s got the most offspring, who’s husband is the most supportive, who has the most shocking birth story.
  2. When I find myself inadvertently involved in one of these one-upping competitions, I generally resort to silence and obscure mumblings, which is new for me, and indicative of a rare but powerful feeling of total defeat. I get confused and overwhelmed, mainly because my mothering approach has no direction and I’m intimidated by women who have it all figured out and “know” and since I’m a bad liar I’d better just say nothing because what the hell am I going to say? “um, yeah, I used to be a drunk and now I’m not so pretty much anything I do now is better than what I did then.” That’s a hell of a measuring stick. Seriously my mothering approach is a series of contradictions and follies and “oh shit that didn’t work, better back up” moments. I’m stoked that my kids aren’t raging lunatics, lighting shit on fire and beating puppies.
  3. Speaking of lunatics, my nine-year old has lost her mind. My aunts told me it’s probably the very early onset of prepubescent hormones.
  4. Prepubescent hormones can kiss my ass. Prepubescent hormones will one day turn into pubescent hormones, which will force my daughter to deal with her biology, which evidently still thinks women only live to the age of 25 and therefore must begin reproducing around twelve. And those hormones will force me into the full and immediate realization that my little girl is really really not a little girl no matter what I tell myself and very soon she’ll face life. All by herself. All grown up. And I’ll miss her forever. That little frizzy head.
  5. I love the smell of Pine Sol in the morning. (Why yes, that was an Apocalypse Now allusion). Actually I love it all the time. I shall never use hippie cleaning products because they don’t smell like Pine Sol. And if I’m going to mop the floor, I should be allowed the pay-off of whiffing Pine Sol for the next few days. It’s only fair.
  6. Do not hold your baby up in the air and swing her around after nursing and feeding her. She will projectile vomit across your right shoulder. Especially refrain from doing this in restaurants, because then she will projectile vomit across your shoulder while everybody is watching you show off your beautiful baby and you will be very embarrassed.
  7. My baby really is beautiful and I have a sneaking suspicion she is actually the cutest and best and most impressive baby on the planet. (Buahahahaha – one-upping!).
  8. Tee-ball games are so entertaining they should demand a cover charge.
  9. My beloved 80-year old grandmother read my blog and determined that she liked “some of it.” I believe what she meant was “you scare me.”
  10. I have already been faced with a personal censorship question. Namely, should I? I gave this a decent amount of thought and have decided, as Ava used to say “the answer says ‘no.’”
  11. It may be a good idea however to add a disclaimer to the top of the webpage: “This blog is irreverent and deliberately uncensored. As such it is generally offensive and wholly incorrect politically – something like Martha Stewart on psychedelics or June Cleaver with a really bad attitude. If such a thing interests you, read on.”

and on a happier note – Ridiculous Baby Products, Volume I.

by Janelle Hanchett

When I write a post like the one yesterday, it’s clear I need to cheer up and get the hell outta the dark side. And as far as I can tell, there’s nothing more cheerful than examining the latest absurd baby products and writing smart-ass comments about them. So here are a few I keep seeing in baby stores that make absolutely no sense to me in terms of usefulness. Please feel free to add to the list. I’m sure this one will be an ongoing post as the ‘latest and greatest’ enter Babies R’ Us…

  • Squeaker Shoes – These are shoes that squeak with every step the kid takes, allegedly teaching him or her to “walk properly.” Right. That’s what I need. More noise. More squeaking in general. And since when do humans need noise-making leather objects bound to their feet to learn to walk?


  • Baby spill mat – So this is a big vinyl mat that one lays on the floor to catch spills from the baby in the highchair. This I don’t understand. What exactly is the difference between cleaning a giant vinyl mat and cleaning the floor? And in my experience, the mess would mostly land about ½ inch beyond the edge of the mat, requiring clean-up of both the mat AND the floor, thereby doubling my work and rendering said mat useless. Not cool.
  • Breast milk catcher – Alright. I think this one might actually be a joke. So these are these pad pocket things you put in your bra, either when nursing (on the non-nursing side) or throughout the day, to catch the milk that leaks. So many problems here. First, there is no way more than an ounce leaks out of both breasts during the day, which means it would take 4 days to create a single bottle for my baby. Second, since breastmilk can only stay at room temperature for an hour max, I would have to clean my little breastmilk catching wonders like ten times a freaking day, pouring twelve drops of milk into the bag at a time, for multiple subsequent days. I mean really, are they serious? I’m a bit crestfallen when I see only 2 ounces in the bottle after 15 minutes of pumping, I’d be suicidal if I had to pay attention to the drops that leak out all day. Freaking weird.


  • Baby/toddler tooth brushes – Dude. Don’t worry about it. They’re gonna fall out anyway.
  • ‘On the Go Pacifier Wipes’ – None of my kids have ever used a pacifier (even though I tried), but I’m pretty sure I’d clean it the same way I clean every other kid item that falls to the ground: dust it off, perhaps lick it, wipe it on my pants, return it to baby.
  • Plastic inside ‘play yards’ – Maybe my kids are just weird, but I can promise you that the second I tried placing them in a gated area removed from the rest of the family would be the precise moment they decided they needed to attach themselves like barnacles to my lower extremities. I’m serious. If any of my kids find out that I’m trying to distract them to get something done, they immediately and suddenly need me, even if they’d been ignoring me the previous hour. The trick is to sneak off while they’re already bus y and this becomes impossible if you stick them in a large cage with toys and walk away. Big indicator to the kid, who’s thinking “huh, mom’s trying to contain me, probably to accomplish a task. Therefore, I shall throw myself on the ground and wail uncontrollably until she comes back, retrieves me from this thing, and pays me the attention I’m rightfully owed.”


  • ‘Baby care Timer’ – Please somebody SHOOT ME. This is even more lame than logging your baby’s poops into an Excel spreadsheet. Entering every diaper change, poo, pee, nap, and feeding into a hand held machine? Come on people let’s work together here. Who gives a flying fuck? Okay fine. If a baby was not thriving, perhaps a contraption like this might be necessary, but otherwise, if you’re using this thing just for the heck of it, because you think it’s a solid idea, I don’t mean to be harsh, but there is something wrong with you.



  • No. Explanation. Needed.

the mediocrity maintenance plan

by Janelle Hanchett

At the risk of sounding a little conceited, I have to admit that everyday, I think I get a little closer to reaching the absolute pinnacle of perfect, unparalleled mediocrity. I have a true talent for this. We’re not talking about half-assed mediocrity. We’re talking the real freaking deal. Pure, unhindered, unadulterated average. The gray area is my domain, people. I rule the middle of the road. If my life were junior high classes, I’d be pulling C’s every period.

I know. It’s impressive.

Perfecting this art may seem complicated, especially since most people excel at something simply by default. But really, it isn’t that hard. And, since I tend to place others above myself (not unlike Mother Theresa and Ghandi), I’m willing to share with you the following guidelines in case you’d like to perfect the general mediocrity in your life. By following these simple steps, you’ll find that you absolutely cannot excel in any area of your existence. You will do exactly what you have to do each day simply to survive – nothing more, nothing less – and one day you will wake up, realizing joyfully that you have achieved real, true mediocrity.

  1. Have children. Preferably more than two.
  2. Make sure one of those children is under the age of one and wakes up at least three times a night, ensuring inadequate sleep patterns and unceasing general exhaustion.
  3. Do not stay home with those children, but go to work.
  4. But don’t work full time. Work part time. Working full time may result in actual focus on work, which could produce above-average performance. What we’re going for here is a sort of “one foot in – one foot out” scenario – so you’re not a working mom and you’re not a stay-at-home one either.
  5. On your days home, frantically attempt to make up for the time you were at work and do nothing else. This will ensure that you do not have time for any stellar stay-at-home mom tasks such as engaging with older children, sewing, cooking, communicating without yelling, gardening and/or doing crafts.
  6. Add many, many other activities to these two realms, as a safeguard against potential achievement in either the work or home arena (examples include, but are not limited to, sports and other activities for the children, having friends, staying married, reading, eating, writing a blog, pursing a graduate education, getting your hair done, losing weight, breastfeeding, keeping a pet alive, visiting family, bathing, etc.).

While it may seem too simple, I guarantee that with these steps will lead you to mediocre functioning no matter what. There is no way around it. You will be spread so thin that there will be no room for anything else. You will have friends you really care about but only call occasionally. You will miss appointments with them and not return calls. You will be too tired at work to do anything beyond the minimum, even though you want to, and when you are home, you will be so behind on housework and household tasks (from the days that you were at work) that excellence in mothering or wifedom will be out of the question. With very little effort on your part, you will become a staggering idiot at work – a frantic nut-job at home – treading water in the deep end, every day, pumping your little legs frantically just to keep your mouth a 1/2  inch above the water. You will move furiously and with wild abandon to keep from drowning. Under these conditions, mediocrity invariably reigns.

If you find yourself excelling in an area, no worries. Just add more activities to your list. Or, and this one never fails to produce immediate results: have another baby.

Then repeat steps 1-6. Forever. And call me. We’ll remind each other of the merits of mediocrity, in between spells of weeping and general malaise.