I'm Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering

Narrated by: Janelle Hanchett
Length: 9 hrs and 27 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (305 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

Pregnant at 21 by a man she'd known three months, Janelle Hanchett embraced motherhood with the determined optimism of the recklessly self-confident. After giving birth, she found herself bored, directionless, and seeking relief in wine, which she justified as sophisticated and going well with chicken. 

But over time, her questionable drinking habit spiraled into full-blown dependence, until life became bedtime stories and splitting hangovers, cubicles and multi-day drug binges - and eventually, an inconceivable separation from her children. For 10 years, Hanchett grappled with the unyielding progression of addiction, bouncing from rehab to therapy to the occasional hippie cleansing ritual on her quest for sobriety, before finding it in a way she never expected.  

Hers 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 seemingly irreversible depths, makes it back, only to discover she is still an outsider. Like her irreverent, laugh-out-loud funny, and unflinchingly honest blog, Hanchett's memoir calls out the rhetoric surrounding "the sanctity of motherhood" as tired and empty, boldly recounting instead how she grew to accept an imperfect self within an imperfect life - and think, "Well, I'll be damned, I'm just happy to be here."

©2018 Janelle Hanchett (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Hanchett offers a startling account of her struggles with alcohol and drug addiction in this raw and riveting memoir.... Readers will cheer Hanchett toward her triumphant recovery." (Publishers Weekly)

"By turns painful and funny, [I'm Just Happy to Be Here] explores the pressures of modern motherhood while chronicling one woman's journey toward acceptance of her own limitations and imperfections. A searingly candid memoir." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Janelle Hanchett presents motherhood as we seldom see it: with irreverent humor, brazen honesty, deep love and loss. Her story is about finding peace right in the mess of motherhood, and that's what makes it wonderful." (Jill Smokler, New York Times best-selling author of Confessions of a Scary Mommy)

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    5 out of 5 stars

There are REAL people in the world....amazing

I listen or read about 2 books a week...not because I’m some “book expert,” but because I yearn to either escape or connect from my own life. I was blown away by this book and have to say....Janelle, you are not only an incredible mother, daughter, wife, and woman; you are a beautiful person. Thank you for being real when I needed to know that real is still alive. Although our lives may be very different I could feel you speaking to me! This book showed me that I am not alone, even though I never truly fit, do we really want to “fit?” I am 44, divorced for over a decade with two teenage sons that hopefully are just in the “hate me” stage and will one day find their way back to the “strict” mom when Dad is so fun (I would’ve been fun too if I didn’t have to be responsible). My mother passed at 52 when I was 26 and my now 18 year old son was 5 months old and we do “live in the blood of our mothers.” Thank you thank you thank you.....words cannot express how much this book spoke to me. As the saying goes, you’ve proven that it’s “not how many times you fall, but that you get back up,” you got up and with all you had you are standing tall. I’m sure your mom is so proud and your grandmothers are both beaming in heaven

11 people found this helpful

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Heartbreakingly Honest, Insightful and So True

I don’t write many reviews but feel compelled to for this book as I wonder why it is not in the window of every book store I pass. I feel riveted having just ended the most profoundly tragic journey, followed by a triumphant defeat. This book will stay with me. So many I read do not.

The writer shares with intimate detail, what it is to be human. She shows us what we are all facing. This is a story about the lives of those in our nation. It’s about our community, our neighbors, our friends, our family, our children, and our partners. It’s about us. It is our story whether we chose to see it or not. It is a story as old as time and yet it is even more relevant today—right now... at this moment.

In the end, we learn there isn’t anything we can do to help struggling addicts. For the author, it wasn’t the shame or mother’s guilt that paved the way to sobriety. Rather, it was a purely conscious desire to live and it surfaced only when her odds of continuing to live and use were gone. We understand this when the author is standing in line to buy red Solo cups at a liqueur store. Another addicts journey is not your own.

There are many heroes that surface in the pages of this memoir. Some show the meaningful ways to help children and others hurt by addicts. Perhaps more importantly, these heroes show us there is nothing we can do to make an addict want of achieve sobriety. Other heroes are those who have been on the same path to sobriety and are willing to share their journey to help others. Now, the author, Janelle Hanchett is one of those heroes.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent!!

I could not stop listening to this story. I highly recommend this book to everyone struggling with addiction!!

2 people found this helpful

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Super long AA Meeting w/ one person speaking

Firstly, being an avid Audiobooks listener of memoirs of this ilk, maybe there have been two books where I have enjoyed the Author reading her own material ("Hit So Hard" by Patty Schemel was Excellent!), this was not one of those books.
Secondly, Hanchett spent an extraordinary amount of time "bitching" and being unnecessarily judgmental, while languishing on the fact that prior to becoming a parent, she visited two Countries and went to college, and believes herself so cosmopolitan that the Country of Spain is where she was "truly" meant to live....Ughhhh.
In any case, she follows the standard AA format of giving a "Lead Meeting" (Single Speaker") A.) What it was like when alcohol/drugs worked B) What happened when they alcohol and drugs stopped working and C.) How is your life now that you have had your moment of clarity and are living within a program.
Personally, I was bored with all the minutia of day to day living which, regardless of which stage of life Hanchett was in,--- drunk, dry or sober --- she complained. I can appreciate how others might enjoy this book, especially Cocktail -Moms of young children. Personally, this was not my cup of tea.

2 people found this helpful

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Not very compelling

I wanted to like this book however..... Again just because you may be a god writer does not mean you should read your own book. The authors voice is grating. I've read/listened to a couple of other similar memoirs and I just had a hard time feeling any compassion for the writer. I get that in the end she does realize she's an over privileged suburban whiner but still the story just does not seem that edgy or interesting. Every time she's in trouble she just has her family/in-laws bail her out. She also just assumes that they'll also take care of her children.

The middle of the book is somewhat better but the last few chapters in which she describes her relationship with her Mom and family while growing up, don't seem that difficult or trying. Again it seems as if she is just whining about not having everything else her wealthy neighbors have.

4 people found this helpful

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wow. just wow

was an amazing listen. laughed n cried struggled to turn it off n hated to hear it end!!

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Raw

A great listen. I'm a long time fan of Janelle Hanchett and already knew the rough outline of her story. That being said, this book took fleshing out to a whole new level. She skillfully walks us down a path, all the while letting her past self's denial and self-lies shine through. We know where it's going, but she protests all along the way. Also, achingly beautiful.

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Many times, this book took my breath away.

Many times, this book took my breath away and left me in tears.

This book started out, a little difficult for me to get into but I am extremely happy I didn't give up on it. Being an ACOA myself and having a family with multiple siblings that struggle with addiction I found this book to be very therapeutic. Amazingly written!!! I am soo proud of Janelle and I love her truth, her words, her thoughts!!! Janelle you are amazing!!!

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Heartbreakingly beautiful!

I want to share this book with everyone! I’m still crying and at a loss for words.

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Brutally honest story of motherhood and addiction

Loved it. A brutally honest story of a women's journey through motherhood and addiction. Very relatable. This is real life.