As it turns out, motherhood is a lot like Dante's Inferno. There are 9 circles of hell in motherhood too—especially WRATH as shown by our angry toddlers.
Humor Parenting

Dante’s Inferno: Motherhood Edition

As it turns out, motherhood is a lot like Dante's Inferno. There are 9 circles of hell in motherhood too—especially WRATH as shown by our angry toddlers.

By B. Pavicic of Coffee, Lipstick, and Laundry

Dante Alighieri’s 14th century poem, The Divine Comedy, details Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. In the poem, Hell is portrayed as nine concentric circles of punishment—Limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. It turns out Dante’s nine circles of Hell bear a close resemblance to motherhood. Below is Dante’s Inferno, the motherhood edition.

Limbo: According to Dante, Limbo is a place of waiting until the soul is cleansed and worthy to enter Heaven. For mothers, this corresponds to the newborn phase, a sleep-deprived, otherworldly blur. Just like Limbo, one’s time in sleep-deprivation varies. Some lucky souls escape with a mere two-month sentence. Others linger in a permanently exhausted state for more than half a year. Think you’ll be lucky enough to escape the torment? Google how to get a baby to sleep through the night. You’ll find forums filled with desperate cries for help.

Lust: Children are the biggest cock blocks ever. As infants, colic, irregular sleep patterns, and sheer exhaustion will sap your mojo. Once children learn to walk, privacy suddenly becomes an issue. So lock your doors and gird your loins. You’re in for a dry spell.

Gluttony: Feeding children is a recurrent source of torment for mothers. Your baby will start life with an insatiable appetite for milk. But sometime around their second birthday they develop a palate for only nutritionally deficient foods, like buttered noodles and chicken nuggets. Then, after years of malnutrition, they become teenagers and eat you out of house and home.

Greed: Children are humongous time sucks. From birth to college, your little angel will squander every bit of free time you thought you had. It’s not just basic needs. The amount of after school activities that children are expected to participate in have intensified over the years. Sports are no longer just for fun; it’s training for Olympic-level competition or, at the very least, a shot at a scholarship to a decent university. If your child loves to swim, you’re looking at five-hour swim meets with mandatory parent participation. If your daughter loves to dance, she can’t possibly just study ballet. She needs to take tap, lyrical, and jazz to be well-rounded. And don’t forget the two hours of homework that needs to be done on top of everything else.

Wrath: It starts with tantrums in the toddler years and culminates with the rage and angst of puberty. Kids will embarrass you and make you question your sanity. While normal brain development and hormones are to blame, it won’t stop strangers from giving you the side eye when you drag your screaming toddler out of the grocery store or coax your blue-haired, fake-nose-ring-wearing Goth child into the car.

Heresy: Mothers wait with bated breath for their baby’s first word. What they don’t realize is how quickly the talking turns into talking back. By three, your little one will be adept at repeating curse words he’s heard and airing your dirty laundry at the most inappropriate times. As a tween, your child will be an expert at verbal sparring and savvy enough to use social media against you. By the time they are teenagers, you won’t even realize that they are making fun of you because everything will be done via text and acronyms. RBTL STBY (translation: Read between the lines, sucks to be you).

Violence: Motherhood, while often depicted with virginal statues clutching fat babies, is actually a rather destructive business. One of the first things to suffer is your body. Pregnancy and birth can leave permanent stretch marks, muffin tops, and a sad set of deflated nursing boobs. But there’s also destruction of property. Your children will delight in trashing your stuff. Whether it’s spit-up on your new shirt, crayon scribbles on the wall, or dents on your new car, nothing will ever look pristine again. If you don’t want something ruined, scuffed, or smudged, put it in storage until your kid graduates from college.

Fraud: One day you will wake up and realize that you’ve been had. The people who raved about the joys of motherhood were lying through their teeth. As the saying goes, misery loves company. The truth is, your precious little baby really is a terrorist, and any feelings of attachment that have developed over the years can be attributed to Stockholm Syndrome.

Treachery:Et tu, Brute?” was the famous line from Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. It was said the moment Caesar realized that his friend Brutus was one of his assassins. Moms will feel the same stab in the back the day their children say they love Dad more. It’s inevitable. Whether it is said out of anger or simply because Dad lets them eat ice cream sundaes for dinner and wear leotards in thirty-degree weather, be prepared. The baby you grew in your womb for nine months will turn on you. It’s just a matter of time.

While every mother will pass through the nine levels of Hell, take heart. In eighteen short years, you’ll be pardoned and start the next phase of life as a perimenopausal monster.


About the Author

B. Pavicic is a blogger and mother of two boys. You can read more of her work at Coffee, Lipstick and Laundry.