A Merit Badge System for Motherhood

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My oldest son was born just over four years ago now, and I'm not gonna lie and say it's been easy. First, I was working. That sucked because I spent all of my time either worrying that a co-worker would pop through my office door to find me streaming Hannah Montana episodes on my computer while fiddling with the slurping plastic machine attached to my chest, or worrying about how the kid was doing without me. Then, I quit my job and decided to stay home since I was pregnant with yet another of my husband's big-headed spawn. And while there's a lot of good to be said about the stay-at-home mom experience in general (most of which can be summed up in two words: "yoga" and "pants"), I never foresaw one of its biggest drawbacks.

Specifically, no one EVER tells you that you're doing a good job. And if they do, they follow up the compliment with a tantrum about how slllooooooowwwww you are at making peanut butter & jellies, and/or how you neeeeveeeeeerrrrr let them wear enough band-aids.

And that's why I propose the badge system. MSN Games does it. Free code instruction site Codeacademy does it. Hell, even the Boy Scouts understand the value of a well-timed but ultimately meaningless token of achievement, one which you can sew on to your clothing or hoard in a shoe box under your bed. And let's be real here: Motherhood is a lot more difficult than Bubble Town, learning html, or even geocaching with a passel of prepubescent boys. So here are a few of my badge suggestions, but feel free to add your own in the comments!

A Merit Badge System for Motherhood
Credit: reconstructionist.

  • First diaper change: Honor Badge. Sure, there's going to be a million more. But that first one is a doozy nevertheless; meconium thick as tar will make you wish you had a steel wool pad and a toothbrush, and the baby seems too tiny to scream that loud! Plus, let's not forget that you just gave birth, and aren't exactly feeling up to snuff either.

  • First spit-up on your shirt: Courage Badge. Luckily, you've been wrist-deep in mustard-colored feces so many times by now that a little barf barely registers. But that doesn't mean you don't deserve something for your efforts and the possible stain blossoming on your shoulder. Especially since more laundry is pretty much the last thing you needed.

  • First joke you hear about how you still look pregnant: Prudence Badge. You cannot punch your father-in-law in the face. You cannot punch your father-in-law in the face.

  • First time the kid sleeps through the night: Liquid Badge. Why liquid, you ask? Well, because as soon as you realize that that shit doesn't last you will need a whole bottle of something strong enough to drown your sorrows. Maybe two.

  • First time you go to the grocery store and realize that you're no longer a human woman, but just some screaming kid's mom: Valor Badge. I'm not sure exactly how long the weird invisibility of becoming a mother (and especially a stay-at-home mother) lasts, but it's definitely more than four years. On the plus side, this provides additional justification for the yoga pants.

  • First time the kid poops in the little potty: Clorox Badge. Because as soon as you work through the joy of not having to change the kid's diaper, someone's gonna have to clean that shit up. Oh, and P.S.: it's going to be you.


Besides the occasional musing on motherhood, Gretchen Tracy also blogs about music and knitting.

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