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."
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About the Author
Table of Contents
1 Family Planning on Ecstasy 3
2 Stop Drinking When Your Lips Go Numb 24
3 Sylvia Plath Put Her Head in the Oven over This Shit 42
4 Playing House in the Suburbs with Captain Morgan 61
5 Three a.m. Ideas 78
6 Rocketship Rock-On 93
7 Failure That Isn't Funny 111
8 Nothing Left to Hide Now 125
9 Who's the Sickest in the Room? 139
10 Maintenance Whiskey 159
11 I Found God in a Leaf Blower, and I Fucking Hate Leaf Blowers 186
12 There Are Three Types of Mothers in the World-I Am None of Them 197
13 Failure That Isn't Funny: Sober Edition 216
14 The Childhood I Could No Longer Blame 233
15 What the Hell Is "Soul Work"? 259
16 In the Blood of Our Mothers 274
17 If I Knew the Way 291
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This memoir took my breath away. I've read Janelle Hanchett's blog "Renegade Mothering" for years, but had NO IDEA what her journey to motherhood looked like. This is a story for everyone who as ever loved a broken person, or who has ever tried and failed to repair themselves. Full of humor, blistering candor, and deep wells of honestly, "I'm Just Happy to Be Here" offers a new perspective on the pain and destruction of addiction in the midst of navigating marriage, motherhood, and well, life. Janelle fails and fails again, and each time, she gets up again and tries to get sober. Driven forward by the desire to get her children back, her marriage repaired, and her life in order, Janelle runs, walks, and crawls down the road to recovery. On the most normal, ordinary day, Janelle's life changes and we, the reader, are reminded of the blessings found in an ordinary life. "I'm Just Happy to Be Here" is remarkable in its honesty. Few of us will ever know the depths of addiction, but Janelle lets us in, and then leads us out into a bright, hopeful day. She reminds us that just being here is all we really need. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
I was blown away by this book; in fact I’ve read it twice now thanks to getting my hands on an advanced reader copy. Janelle tells her story with a raw, powerful, honesty and that’s what sets it apart from other addiction/recovery stories. She gives us the good, the bad, and the ugly without excuses. Other authors I’ve read always seem to write a litany of ‘poor me, all of this bad stuff drove me to drink’ but not this one. Janelle pulls no punches on herself and has the integrity to tell it without pointing fingers or dragging others down with her. This is what sobriety is about; accountability without resentment. It’s not pretty, but that’s because it’s real life. Expect to laugh, yell, cry and cheer. It’s all in there. I’ve been a follower of Renegade Mothering for many years, so I can say with conviction: Janelle Hanchett is not a blogger who wrote a book. She is an author who blogs.
Janelle Hanchett's words are poetry and the way that she weaves her story together is absolute artistry. I haven't read a book like her's before - her story is deep, passionate and relatable. While the back cover gives the overarching story of "the addict mother not redeemed by her children" it is much more. Janelle creates her richness with multiple substories that she seamlessly connects through the story of her life. I have been a long time reader of her blog Renegade Mothering and so expected more of the same when I picked up her book. I was wrong to assume. While her voice and transparency into who she is as a woman carries over from her blog to her book but her book is on a different level. Funny and pointed in parts, intense and thought provoking in others. I connected with her and found myself nodding, crying and laughing, riveted through the entire thing. I challenge any human living life NOT to find yourself somewhere in this book. Well done Ms. Hanchett.
As a mother, I have found that I sometimes feel "other." I am not the mom at the PTA. I am not the mom spending every moment teaching and reading and playing. I am not the mom who just ignores her kids all the time either, though. I strive for balance of myself and my family. And that balance is HARD. No one has expressed this difficulty as clearly as Janelle. I found her blog Renegade Mothering when my first was under a year. I thought "Wow, here is a mom who feels like I do and can put into words the way I feel." I have followed RM since 2012. I waited with breathless anticipation for this book. Janelle mentions her struggles in her blog, but never told her whole story. I wanted to know- what made this woman so able to just throw off the judgment of others and say those words that were hiding always in my brain. I got the book, and read it in two days (that's saying a lot for a woman who hasnt read a full book since 2012!!!) Janelle's writing is so easy to jump into, even though her story is NOT. Several times I threw the book across the room thinking HOW COULD YOU DO IT AGAIN! Then I would chase the book across the room to see if maybe THIS TIME would be the time she would make it out of the deep pit she was in. I am not an addict, I am not in recovery, but I know what it is to love your children more than anything in the world and still want to pull out your hair every time they say "Mama?" This book spoke to me. It gave me words to my own story. It helped me see that there are always things we are up against, be they small or large, and getting through them to the other side is always a miracle. I'm Just Happy To Be Here made me happy to be here as well. Read this book!
Stunning, raw, compelling, and occasionally funny as heck. Janelle's voice jumps off the page, and doesn't shy away from saying the things most of us maybe THINK but would never SAY. It's that unflinching take on her own story that makes this book such a gift. Read it, highlight passages, buy it for your friends. Because it's that good. And if you're like me, you'll read the last 20 pages suuuper slowly, because you don't want this story to be finished. (Note: I received an advance reader copy of this book. My opinions are my own.)
I am not a former drug addict. I am not a recovering alcoholic. I also don't have four kids. But somehow this book resonated with me on so many levels. Having known Janelle since 2010, and having been a reader of her blog, Renegade Mothering, since its inception, I'm used to her blunt, often abrasive language. And that's one of the reasons I love reading her work--blog, Facebook post, or otherwise. She tells it like it is and it's refreshing. This book is reminiscent of her blog, but less in-your-face. Let's be clear: this isn't an "I got clean and you can too and here's how!" kind of memoir. It's the story of a woman who, despite so many things, managed to pull herself out of the deepest of pits. If you'll let me be cliche for a moment--she had nowhere to go but up. She also had help from her family, which many don't. It was an ugly journey; one that is hard to tell people about. She tells us things that many would never EVER admit to, and that's part of what makes this book so heart-wrenching. There have not been many books in my life (if any) that have made me ugly cry, complete with snot running down my face. This book broke through my stony heart and made me feel so many things. The love of family, the desperation and heartbreak of losing them, and somehow finding the strength to change herself for the better. I have a feeling that this book will end up on a bestseller list. Janelle writes in such a way that, no matter who you are, you get where she's coming from. You can relate. Shit gets real--literally--and she brings you right into her head. It's a messy place that I'll never completely understand, but it gave me a better idea of what addicts go through. I can't say enough good stuff about this book. It will make you laugh and then ugly cry in the span of five pages. If you haven't already, order this book. Buy a copy for yourself, one for your best friend, one for your mailman, etc.
I enjoyed this book so much. I devoured this book. Yes, it's a memoir of a young, addicted mother - but more than that, it's not the expected trajectory of addiction to redemption and all the expected platitudes. It's unexpected, and underscores that having a children doesn't magically fix someone or put them on the right path. It's so deeply personal, at times I felt like I should look away as she is someone I feel like I know from her Renegade Mothering blog. It's also really funny - her perceptions and writing style are smart and wry. I laughed and cried all the way through this book. I'm sending it to my best friend and neither of us are addicts. "I'm Just Happy To Be Here" is riveting and special and I keep thinking about it, it has stayed with me. This is one I'll read again.
I both loved this book, and also threw it across the room several times. Janelle Hanchett puts it all out there, and it's hard to read. Not hard to read like it isn't written well, the writing is amazing. Hard to read because I was really rooting for her as she crashed over-and-over, and also because she is so beautifully human and flawed, and, well, I can relate. This book spoke to me as a mother, as a daughter, as a partner, and as a human being who never feels like I'm enough. I loved it.
I'm not an addict, but I am a mother. And, I have never read a book that I related to as much as I do this one. Janelle is amazing with words, and made me feel right at home. I would recommend this book for ANYone. Men, women, teenagers...seriously, it's a great book. Not only as an eye opener, but for compassion more than anything!
Janelle Hanchett's first book, 'I'm Just Happy to Be Here' truly exceeded my already high expectations. The book follows the author through a harrowing series of events, from becoming a young mother, to drug and alcohol addiction, stints in rehab, and beyond, with a brutal honesty and quick wit that are, quite frankly, refreshing. Her writing style is fluid and easy to follow, punctuated with humor in all the right spots, and evoking tears where appropriate. I love her simple and honest style, and the themes woven throughout the story. Though I knew some of the author's story from her blog, RenegadeMothering.com, this book was still a page turner for me. Sure, she wrote the book, so we know she didn't die in a pit of alcoholism (thank God), but I really enjoyed exploring the twists and turns of her life along the way. Janelle seems to blend the right amount of introspection, humor, painful truth, and inspiration. I am not a mother, or an addict, but this is book is most definitely not just for mothers or addicts. If you are a breathing human being with a soul, this book is for you. As someone who has never had children, had to go through rehab, or had a family member murdered by another family member, reading Janelle's raw truth really opened my eyes to experiences and points of view that I had never considered before. Janelle's ability to explore the darkness of human nature while still managing to make me laugh was impressive. I look forward to reading more of her work!