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The 9 Circles of Hell for Moms

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My mom-brain has turned to mush! Between my own job and my job as a mom, there's not much time left in the day to read a book or the newspaper. Even the Singapore Math my son does for first-grade homework confounds me. It's only a matter of time until I'm not smarter than my fifth-grader.

In anticipation of my kid learning things that I've long since forgotten or never cared about in the first place, I'm trying to brush up on my long division, my algebra and those dreaded classics. Sure, most of my brushing up involves me Googling or Wiki-ing the Cliff's Notes. But if I were to actually sit down and reread Shakespeare or Chaucer, I'm fairly certain I'd have no time left for feeding and clothing my kids.

In my studies I came across Dante's "Inferno," which is the beginning of the epic poem "Divine Comedy." "Inferno," as it turns out, is Italian for "hell." The 14th-century epic poem tells the story of the writer suffering through the nine circles of hell located within Earth.

Kinda sounds like motherhood, no?

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Let's face it, some parts of motherhood are downright hellish. And while it seems like those sleepless nights with infants or days spent comforting a teething child are hell, they're not. That's because those phases end quickly. The real nine circles of hell for moms last longer and make even the most patient woman feel like she is in the middle of an Italian classic. Here they are:

1. Going to the shoe store with toddlers

This is a special brand of torture for any parent who dares to get a child to sit down and try on shoes. There is no amount of bribery or threats that can keep a child off the escalator, which is almost always located next to the shoe department. Maybe the kid's shoe department should be located there.

The good news is your child won't always be a toddler. The bad news is, it'll always be hell to buy your kid shoes. Maybe that's why some cultures go barefoot.

2. Target

You'll come home having not bought the one thing you came for and vow never to take your child to Target again.

It's a well-known fact that every child under 27 has to have a meltdown in Target while you're on the tail end of 490 scowling strangers' rude glances. You'll come home having not bought the one thing you came for and vow never to take your child to Target again. Because, of course, shopping with kids is hell. Otherwise, you'd do it more often.

3. Teaching your teen to drive

Most teens are about as focused as a newborn and they have the same gross motor skills. If you're the unlucky parent who draws the short stick in the game known as "Who has to take their life into their own hands and teach this kid to drive?"—you're in for a real treat. Your kid will hate you by the end of their first lesson. You will have realized no amount of prescription medication can get you through freeway driving with a teen. And then you'll call in a professional, knowing full well you're not getting in the car with your teen until he or she is 30. Even then you'll say, "Driving with my kid is hell."

4. The color pink

Some historian will soon discover some ancient cave drawings that explain the color pink was invented to drive mothers of daughters slowly insane. That's because many little girls see the world through pink-colored lenses. That means girls will want to wear only pink clothing, live in an only pink room and eat only pink food. And at some point, every toddler girl will demand to be called "Pinkalicious." You'll hope someday your pink lover will get over her pink obsession only to realize the teen years are coming. Then you'll pray she doesn't go goth.

5. Flying with your children

Every new mom vows not to be that mom who stops doing the things she likes to do simply because she had a child. That includes travel. But the truth is, flying with one's children is a special brand of hell that never seems to end. That's because your otherwise perfect sleeper and mild-mannered child will go totally nuts when confined for more than seven seconds in a flying tube. You'll still be on the runway when you decide you're not flying with your kid until he's in double digits. Flying with kids is hell, for you and for everyone around you.

6. Dance recitals

Before having children, most moms dream of birthing a little tutu-wearing ballerina, and then you have one. And while it's cute to see your little Baryshnikov tendu her way through class every Wednesday afternoon, it's not so cute to spend four hours watching the end-of-year dance show. That's because the cute part of the dance show only lasts so long. And spending four hours, totally sober, watching little girls hobble their way through "Uptown Funk" is somewhat excruciating, even if the little one in the middle is yours.

7. Summer break

Summer break, also known as three months of hell for mothers, is about three months too long.

In every mother's mind, summer break looks like a Frankie and Annette movie filled with beach days where kids randomly break into song just because. But summer break, also known as three months of hell for mothers, is about three months too long. The kids will miss their friends, mom will miss work, spin class and every bit of productivity, all by day two.

8. The talk

Long before you decide to have "the talk" with your 12-year-old, he probably knows all there is to know. You'll sweat your way through explaining the birds and the bees to your child who would rather be anywhere but there, only to have your kid respond by saying, "Yeah, Mom, I know." Total hell.

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9. Taking your youngest to college

You've endured 12 years of summer breaks and dance recitals, but nothing is as hellish as saying goodbye to your children and sending them off into the world. Sure, they'll come back to do laundry and to pick up some cash, but it won't be the same once they're not living under your roof. So much of life as a mom is hellish, but it's heaven compared to saying goodbye.

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