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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... de-bone 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!
Cheri Hardaway was a court reporter in the early years of her marriage, where she painstakingly transcribed others' thoughts and words into print. Now a stay-at-home mom with four wonderful children, ages 13 to 24, Cheri's passion is sharing, in her own thoughts and words, her Christian faith. Her desire is to impact people's lives with timely words of encouragement and hope. She and her husband, Wayne, live in Louisiana, where she homeschools her three youngest children and continues to pursue her love of writing.


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