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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mothers (05/02/05)

TITLE: The Missing Gene
By Cheri Hardaway


I smacked the alarm clock into silence and groaned. “Do I really have to do this?”

I’d rather clean toilets... debone a chicken... get a root canal...

“But I promised,” I conceded.

Resigned, I got ready. While brushing, I pondered. There is something vital missing from my genetic code. Women love to shop. Everyone knows that! Everyone but me.

Well, if Jesus could die for me, I can keep my word and shop with my kids! I actually managed to emerge from my bedroom with a smile.

They were ready and waiting. A shopping trip! I had even agreed to take the girls’ friends.

Off we went. I could feel the drum beat as we parked outside that two-story concrete jungle. We piled from the van – me, my girls and their friends, and my son, the Lone Ranger. The kids told me their agenda. Shouting over the din, I told them mine.

“Missy and Sharon, you take Rachael and Laura and start looking around in Mervyn’s. Your brother and I are going to find jeans. We'll join you later."

It was now 10:00. This won't be so bad. If we use our time wisely, we can be done by lunchtime and salvage the rest of the day for projects at home.

Chad found his jeans and visited the fitting room to check their length. I asked for a look-see.

There he stood in all his glory, wearing these oversized jeans with the crotch hanging between his knees. Did the weight of the chains hanging from the belt loops cause that? Or did the designer forget that a human leg actually has a thigh? And did Chad realize his boxers were showing?

“Over my dead body,” was all I said. Actually, I think I might have hissed.

Compromising on some jeans we both could live with, we finally joined the girls. Sharon was irritated because everything she tried on was too big. She had always been petite. It looked like we would need to hit some specialty stores. Missy was also upset; she had found the perfect outfit! – a size too small. There was, of course, none in her size. No other outfit would do, because everything else was “so ugly!” Rachael and Laura were just along for the ‘fun’ of it. Lucky them.

By 4:00, we’d canvassed the entire mall. Lunch had been a pretzel from Annie’s. The salesclerks knew us by name, and mall security had discreetly begun to trail us, sure we were casing the joint. Missy had found a replacement for her original outfit – in Macy’s, the second store we’d visited. (We just had to check all nineteen others to be sure she hadn’t overlooked anything.) Sharon had found clothes her size in the petite department of Casual Corner and was now in the agony of indecision, torn between two outfits. Chad was looking pasty from fatigue and hunger. Rachael and Laura were still hanging in there, good sports to the end.

Around 5:00, Sharon finally made a choice, and we trudged back to Macy’s. Missy and I exited the fitting room to gales of laughter. Chad had hidden himself inside a round rack of clothing – obviously delirious – and was causing one garment after the other to protrude from the rest, while saying in a singsong pixie voice, “Pick me! Pick me!” (Boredom really does breed creativity.)

To everyone’s relief – salesclerks and security guards included – we were done. I was on the verge of singing the Hallelujah Chorus when I heard: “All I need is a cute little pair of shoes to match my new dress.” All five of us stared at Missy. (She wears a size 10!)

Finally home, I shared my day with my husband. He massaged my shoulders. “You are wonderful! That’s why God made mothers. Dads would NEVER survive that.”

The girls came in to kiss us good night. “Thanks, Mom, for taking us. We know you hate to shop,” Missy bubbled.

“We had a blast! Rachael and Laura want to go with us next time too. They said their moms would never stay at the mall all day!” Sharon chimed in.

They went upstairs, still chattering. I lay down next to my husband, weary but peaceful. That’s why I do this, I thought with a smile. That’s what moms do – they bless their kids and are blessed in return. It must be part of a divine plan to make us see beyond ourselves.

By the way, I still have flashbacks!

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This article has been read 1158 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dixie Phillips05/09/05
This is so great! I am still laughing and relating to how this mother feels. You have a great sense of humor along with a huge gift of writing! Loved every bite!
Lynda Lee Schab 05/10/05
This would make a great article for Faithwriters Magazine - the "A Merry Heart" deparment. (There's a plug for John Hunt!) Wonderful humor, could identify with it completely (what mother couldn't?)
Loved every word!
Blessings, Lynda
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/10/05
Oh, I hate to shop, too! I enjoyed this.
Sue Edwards05/10/05
I loved it!

I also am missing the shopping gene and can so relate.
Debbie OConnor05/10/05
Laughed out loud throughout, especially when you hissed at your son! I agree, this would be a great story for A Merry Heart (FW Mag). Awesome! :)
Crista Darr05/12/05
Too funny! You've turned our torture into humor. I thoroughly enjoyed this!
Kathy Cartee05/13/05
Great story.
I too hate shopping and my ten year old grand daughter who lives with us was born to shop.

I agree you should submit this to A Merry Heart

Suzanne R05/14/05
I LOVE this entry. As a non-shopper, I also applaud you in surviving such a day and even being willing to contemplate doing it and taking the friends. I'm usually cross by about an hour into the day. You've told the story really well. Bless you, dear model mother!
dub W05/15/05
(sits at the computer applauding) nuf said.
chuck Proctor05/15/05
My wife hates to shop too. This all-women-are-shoppers thing is a myth. And you did a great job exploding it.
John Hunt05/16/05
This hating shopping thing - um, could you talk to my wife? ;-)
Great entry! Loved it.
Lois Jennison Tribble05/17/05
What is it with writers? I hate to shop also! There may BE something to this missing gene idea, Cheri! You did a great job on this -- it was so much fun, and so true. I especially loved your son's creativity in the clothes rack! Hope the flashbacks end SOON! -- Lois
Deborah Porter 06/07/05
LOVE this! Cheri, this is going to be the front page showcase toward the end of the month. It was a treat to read and it also made me feel so much better about myself. I always thought I was the odd one out - I loathe shopping passionately.

I am actually starting to wonder if this is a "writer" thing, or whether as one of the commenters said, the "women love to shop" thing is just a big myth, perpetrated by the major retailers. Hmmm ... conspiracy theories abound. ;-)

Anyway Cheri, thanks for making my day. Love, Deb
Kelly Klepfer06/24/05
I'm a little late reading this entry. This was great. Thanks for sharing and giving all of us NON-shoppers a chance to feel a little less alone. BTW - this is why there are coffee shops in many malls - take a book, buy a latte, and communicate by cellphone. No one says you have to GO to all 19 stores.
Monique Jordan06/27/05
Kudos!!! Now if only all of us non-shoppers had a pixie in the racks telling us what to pick. This was really a delight to read. Thank you for sharing your story. I will keep it in mind as I set out to shop with my children today.
Phyllis Inniss06/29/05
I missed this article on The Challenge. I am sure glad that I got a chance to read it. It is a terrific entry. The humour was just hilarious. Splendid writing.
Nina Phillips07/03/05
I sooooo enjoyed reading this light-hearted peice. I'm glad to know that I am so not alone about not liking to shop. However, I believe it must be a missing gene. I have two girls and two grandbaby girls that love to shop.
I liked reading about your son playing around in the clothes. This was just a very excellent article in my opinion. I have a big smile now. God bless ya,