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Review: I'm Just Happy To Be Here by Janelle Hanchett

I'm Just Happy To Be Here by Janelle Hanchett (May 1, 2018 / Hachette)

**Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation**

From the creator of the blog "Renegade Mothering," Janelle Hanchett's forthright, wickedly funny, and ultimately empowering memoir chronicling her tumultuous journey from young motherhood to abysmal addiction and a recovery she never imagined possible.

At 21, Janelle Hanchett embraced motherhood with the reckless self-confidence of those who have no idea what they're getting into. Having known her child's father for only three months, she found herself rather suddenly getting to know a newborn, husband, and wholly transformed identity. She was in love, but she was bored, directionless, and seeking too much relief in too much wine.

Over time, as she searched for home in suburbia and settled life, a precarious drinking habit turned into treacherous dependence, until life became car seats and splitting hangovers, cubicles and multi-day drug binges--and finally, an inconceivable separation from her children. For ten years, Hanchett grappled with the relentless progression of addiction, bouncing from rehabs to therapists to the occasional hippie cleansing ritual on her quest for sobriety, before finding it in a way she never expected.

This is a story we rarely hear--of the addict mother not redeemed by her children; who longs for normalcy but cannot maintain it; and who, having traveled to the bottom of addiction, all the way to "society's hated mother," makes it back, only to discover she will always remain an outsider.

Like her irreverent, hilarious, and unflinchingly honest blog, "Renegade Mothering," Hanchett's memoir speaks with warmth and wit to those who feel like outsiders in parenthood and life--calling out the rhetoric surrounding "the sanctity of motherhood" as tired and empty, boldly recounting instead how one grows to accept an imperfect self within an imperfect life--thinking, with great and final relief, "Well, I'll be damned, I'm just happy to be here."

My Review:
I can sum up this book in one word...wow! While books on motherhood have been more accepting of moms who are messy or non-mainstream (hipster, tattooed, free-range, etc.) in recent years, there aren't a lot of (any?) books that talk about how children DO NOT COMPLETE YOU! I related so much with this author when she would talk about the soul crushing shackles of motherhood and then in the next breath talk about how intensely she loved her children. This division of the role from the relationship is so simple but is often misunderstood. Not loving being a mother does not equate with not loving your child. The author's desire for adventure, her postpartum visions, and so many of her excuses read like they were pulled directly from my brain. I also self-medicated for years (though not in the same ways) and I see so many other mothers currently doing it every day. This was an emotionally tough read but I am so glad that this book exists.


Carmen said...

Wow, it sounds like a tough yet powerful read! Honest and brave too, I think. Not many mother would say aloud the things she did.

Rhiannon Johnson said...

Exactly, Carmen! I felt like she was saying so many things that I've felt but never said to anyone else before.

Judy Krueger said...

I will be reading this one. I will relate to it, I know.