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.”