I’m Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering by Janelle Hanchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: May 2018
Publisher: Hachette Books
Recommended Age: 15/16+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Memoir, Nonfiction, Parenting, Mental Illness, Addiction
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.
I have been interested in reading about motherhood lately. It started with the memoir ‘‘And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready,’’ and while it scared me shitless, it also made me slightly fascinated with the process of creating a little human out of barely anything and watching it develop into a monster.
Janelle Hanchett’s kids actually sound like angels. She never insults them—not that I remember—and her love for them is crystal obvious. Her kids are not the problem… She is. She’s (well, was, for most of the book) an alcoholic and drug addict. Suffers from mental illnesses. Has very obsessive behaviours and is basically killing her organs at a speed faster than those Fast and Furious cars.
It’s horrendous. Disgusting. Truly she makes my own mother look like a perfect being (love you, mom!). It’s like this oral presentation I had in a class two weeks ago. Our poster and presentation was lovely. But then the group that went after us went ABOVE AND BEYOND and we looked like preschoolers who didn’t know how to put up a professional poster together and didn’t deserve to be in university.
I’m not going to explain how this correlates exactly, because it’s late and I have an essay to write, but basically I was fascinated by this book and author because I am a g00dy-2-sh03s who doesn’t drink or do drugs or is married or in a relationship or has children or knows anyone who fits all of the above labels.
So this book was something else for me. Janelle Hanchett is smart and funny, and she made me realize that even drug addicts and alcoholics can be smart and funny. She knows she made some really, REALLY poor… awful… disastrous choices in her life, but she doesn’t want us to pity her. She’s straight-forward and raw. That may not be your thing, in which case don’t read this memoir, but if you’re looking for different, compelling, achingly real and just WOW, pick it up.
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