Monday, September 6, 2010

Descending into the Circles of Hell

As parents, we do things for our kids that we would never do if left to our own devices. I can promise you I wouldn't spend mindless hours watching kids swing at the park or willingly sacrifice my brain cells, one by one, to spend quality time with an over-sized rodent known as Chucky Cheese.

Sometimes my children will request an activity and my answer requires little thought.

"Mom, can I have half the 7th grade come over for a party?"

No brainer. "No." Although I confess, sometimes depending on the request, the no might usually has a bit more drama attached.

"You want to do what? Have you lost your mind?"

Okay, so I need to work on my responses.

Lately, I've been in full edit mode on my novel, preparing for a conference I will attend in Denver next weekend. I feel guilty. I've spent more time on my book and less time on my kids. Everyone knows it's a temporary thing. Nevertheless, I feel guilty.

Here's a motherhood truth no one warns you about, along with too many others to mention here: the moment your child is placed into your arms, your life is ruled by guilt. The only way to escape it is to... I got nothin'. There's no escape.

When Julia and Jenna begged and pleaded to go to the American Girl Store GRAND OPENING on Saturday, the reasonable, sane part of me would have said:

"I would sooner cut off my right hand and feed it to the lions at the zoo."

But guilt-ridden Mom said:


And so began my slow descent into hell.

Now to be fair and before the canonization process for my certain sainthood gets underway, let me confess, I was not little Miss Molly Sunshine the entire way through. Even the night before I had a bit of an attitude. Julia wanted to leave at 8 am to arrive for the 10am opening of the doors. (I think they actually opened at 9.) I might have been suckered willing to wait in line for hours but I sure wasn't going lose precious sleep for it.

We left at 10, with a Starbucks detour on the way. Of course. We arrived at 10:45 and encountered the crowds gathered to visit the mecca of young girls everywhere.

Trust me this line was nothing.

They divided the pilgrims into groups. The group entering the store was 5. We were given tickets for group 11. Then we were free to wander, meander and shop in the mall , checking a digital display that announced what number of group they were lining up like cattle on the way to the slaughter house. (note: photo above.). I was with FIVE children (Julia brought a friend), in a crowded mall. On a Saturday. Did I mention that I had FIVE children? And one was Emma.

I descended into another circle of hell.

Shopping with teenage girls.

While Dante's circles of hell were Seven Deadly Sins, my own personal circles of hell were Aeropostale. The Disney Store. Claire's. Navigating a maze of ramps with a Sit-N-Stand stroller is my idea of torture. I tried really hard to remember being thirteen and wanting to shop for hours on end. I must have killed those brain cells at Chucky Cheese.

I confess, I did do some shopping. I bought the kids more school clothes. I bought an outfit for my pitching session with a literary agent next weekend. If I had to be there, I might as well get something out of it, too.

Around 1:00, we tried to eat lunch at the food court, but that was impossible. The eating area was overrun by eighteen-inch dolls and their dressed alike chaperones. Instead we went across the street, ate a quick fast food lunch and went back to the mall.

Amazingly enough, it was time for us to enter the cattle guards. Equally amazing, Emma had had enough.

Talk about bad timing.

Emma did NOT want to wait in line anymore. She was done. But little things distracted her. Like these paper cone cups.

That came from these. You would have thought Emma was a camel replenishing after a two-week trek in the desert. After about five cups of water, I had to drag her away. As you can imagine, that went over well.

Which explains why she's not in this picture outside the entrance.


The Promised Land*
*enter at your own peril

There's a happy face.

Emma was happy too. When the girl is upset, all you have to do is give her a stroller. I see a great future as a dog walker ahead of her. Or nanny. Or rickshaw driver.

THIS is when I decided I would descend to the lowest circle of hell, wallow around like a rutting pig and not shower for three days. Ryan wanted a "boy doll" and I decided "why not?" So I got Bitty Twins -- a boy and a girl. When I opened the box and handed the boy to Ryan, his face lit up and said with great excitement, "He looks like me!"*

*Not exactly. While we requested the ASIAN Bitty Twins, we actually received the Hispanic Bitty Twins. But hey, Ryan doesn't care so why should I?

And what did Ryan name his new friend? Little Ryan.

We came home, SIX HOURS after we left and the girls dressed their dolls up in the new outfits. I sat down at the computer and frantically tried to catch up on the work I missed and I wondered: Will my kids remember the time that Mom took them to the American Girl Store Opening and bought their dolls' outfits? Or will they remember tired and crabby Mom, whose back was killing her from a poorly designed mall? Only time will tell. Until then, the only thing I can do is to keep on trying.

Even saints are human.**

Hey, those dolls look just like my kids.

** Some might suggest that I am not actually eligible for sainthood after my trip to the AG Store. Some who know the actual criteria for sainthood would scoff and say that MIRACLES have to attributed to the person suggested for sainthood. They would propose that no miracle had occurred. And they would be wrong.

You tell me that one over-caffeinated, stressed-out Mom can take five kids to a crowded mall for five hours and not kill ANYONE doesn't qualify as a miracle.

Saint Denise. I like the sound of it.


Kristin said...

I stand in awe of you right now. I won't even take my two little girls to the grocery store alone. I have to bribe a teen to come along. And you took five to the mall and the American Girl store.

I bow to you....

Denise Grover Swank said...

But will you support my canonization, THAT is the question. Because becoming a saint is a new life goal for me. Oh... wait... you have to be dead first.

Never mind.

Eisley Jacobs said...


I love Ryan's doll!!!

Kristin said...

I want to take my girls to an American Girl store so badly!! But the nearest one is 6 hours away. I might get some kind of sainthood for that, huh?! :D

The Gotch 5 said...

You are one brave mother!! I wouldn't take my 3 year old let alone 4 others with her. I am not worthy!!

Jules said...

With any luck I will be able to avoid the AG thing. Of course, I'm sure that will only happen until she starts public school.

Jules said...

oh-and I agree, you are a saint! Or st least-you threw the kids a bone after your writing spree.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

You win the sainthood award or something like that because 6 hours at a mall is just plain old nuts! But, those happy faces say it all. You did good!

Brandy said...

Your title is priceless. I think it describes the whole thing to a tee. I think I recognize Emma's shirt - Carter, no?