I loved being a Girl Scout. I loved the camaraderie, the empowerment, the outdoorsy activities, and — as a Type A, goal oriented person — I loved the badges. Wouldn't it be cool if motherhood came with a series of badges you could earn and display proudly on your vest or sash, so that everyone could marvel at your assorted, often weird accomplishments? There are so many mom wins that deserve badges, you guys, and it's time the world rectify this situation.
I mean, this sh*t is hard as hell. We deserve something tangible for all the big things we're accomplishing and sometimes just living through. Because, of course, very often these accomplishments are invisible, despite how significant and huge they feel (and are). The only way someone can know what we've achieved and what we've been through is to tell someone... and, being women, we're told we shouldn't brag and that if we are even a little bit proud of the things we do we're smug and fueling the "mommy wars."
To that I say, "Ha!" I'm getting a fabulous sash and making some special badges. I'm gonna slap them on any time I feel accomplished and I'm going to throw them out like Mardi Gras beads when I see my fellow mamas deep in the struggle or emerging victoriously from it. So with that in mind, here are just some of the big moments that can earn you a Mom Badge:
The First Time Your Child Sleeps Through The Night
The date of this monumental milestone varies, to be sure. It could be your first night home from the hospital (almost certainly not) it may not be until your child is 6 (also almost certainly not), but whenever it happens it is a damn accomplishment. And the longer you struggled, the bigger and shinier the badge, because you earned that sh*t.
Doing anything exhausted is hard, but trying to get someone to sleep who doesn't want to sleep when all you want is to sleep? That's basically psychological torture. You deserve to celebrate with a badge of honor and achievement.
The Day You Realize Your Child Has Given Up Napping
Think of it as a Level Up badge, both because you have leveled up and also that you're going to have to level up. Because, honestly, you know it's going to suck when your kid stops napping and you don't get that break at any point in the day.
Your Child's First Public Tantrum
I'm not talking about the first time your baby cries in church or kicks up in a restaurant and you have to bring them outside so they can settle down in a quieter atmosphere and not to disturb the other customers. I'm talking about the first time your toddler acts out because... well, because they're toddlers and sometimes toddlers are volatile jerks.
Chances are this behavior will not be a surprise to you — they will give you plenty of doses of this at home before they ever test these moves out in public — but the deep burning shame you feel as they do so will be entirely new.
Living through that one earns you a badge, my dear.
Successfully Averting A Tantrum
How will you know when it happens? Oh, you'll know. You'll know because your child will get close to a meltdown and then the obvious crisis will have been averted. Averting a tantrum takes some serious mom-skills and those skills definitely deserve a badge. And the skills required to avert a tantrum are hard-won. It means you've lived through many tantrums to know what triggers your kid and what soothes your kid and you know your kid well enough to navigate all those very difficult factors. Well played, ma'am.
First Vacation With Baby
Learning how to vacation as a parent is actually really, really hard, practically and emotionally, and if you can get through it then Gold Star for you!
What makes it hard? First of all, packing for a child is tough, both because they have a lot of stuff and because forgetting any number of those items can be disastrous. Like, if you forget your little one's beloved blanket? Woe to you, madam. But even if you remember everything, children are creatures of habit, so figuring out how to make them feel at home someplace else, especially when they're so out of their routine, can be really difficult. And then there's your own concept of vacation, which has to be completely re-calibrated. It's not that it can't be fun or even relaxing, but you're going to have to find the fun and relaxation in new ways, because snoozing on a beach just isn't an option with a kid in tow.
First Night Away From Child
Oh, my darling. Big hugs. Even when this is exciting and highly desired it's really hard and you deserve lots of love, support, and a great big Mom Badge.
Getting Walked In On
I'm not going to get overly personal here, but I'm not going to lie, either: this is really, really awkward. Your kid will probably be OK, because they have no idea what's going on, but you're just never going to be the same again and the least life can do for you after such an ordeal is reward you with a mark of achievement.
Successful Potty Training
You'd think this would be easy, right? Like, I know when I have to pee and poop and I know where the bathroom is. Where's the challenge here? But very often the more basic and second-nature something is for adults the harder it is for kids to figure out.
Even "easy" potty training is not for the faint of heart. The whole kerfuffle deserves recognition.
First Day Of School
This one is super emotional, you guys. Especially for your first kid. It's just so symbolic! And this is different from daycare or babysitting: this is giving your child over to another institution specifically to help mold them into someone who can become an educated, well-rounded adult.
There will be tears. There will be doubts. There will be a big bubble of snot in your nose that the other parents at drop-off are too polite to let you know about. For all this, I feel there should be a badge... nay! A medal!
First Ride On An Airplane
Not everyone gets this one (though many will get the corollary "First Long Road Trip" badge). This badge is actually less to with your parenting accomplishments and skills in many cases (though travelling with a child of any age can certainly be a challenge) and more to do with putting up with obnoxious adults who think bringing a child on a plane is tantamount to a war crime.
No one is having fun when they scream because the air pressure is hurting their ears, eye-rolling passenger passive-aggressively sighing loudly in 15F, but we're going to deal with it because this is what it means to go out in public: you have to deal with other people, including babies.
Stepping On A Lego
A badge and also a week's hospital stay, because that's what it feels like you need in the immediate aftermath.
I used to think people were exaggerating on this one. They are not. It really, really hurts. I'd rather bang my funny-bone 10 times than step on one Lego.
The First Time They Ruin Something BIG
A carpet. A wall. A beloved family heirloom. It'll happen. It'll suck. A badge won't make it better, but know that this is another one of those "level up" moments. We all go through it, and now you can (unfortunately) relate.
The First Time You Help Another Mom
Not only do you deserve a badge for doing a good deed (#MomsSupportingMoms, y'all!) but because you've reached a stage where you've gained enough expertise to help someone else and that is an awesome feeling that should be celebrated. Wear that badge everywhere you go so other parents know they can depend on you.