Say "participation trophy" loud enough and, within 20 seconds, you'll hear a diatribe about everything that is wrong with millennials. Look: everyone knows participation trophies aren't monuments to superior achievement. They're mementos. They're nice and, apparently, treating others nicely is a real problem for some people. So it's in protest of the concept that there's something inherently damaging about participation trophies that I propose this list of participation trophies every mom should get. Not because she did anything remarkable, but to serve as a nice reminder of that one time something didn't go so horribly wrong.
One of my motherhood mottoes (I have so many because I need so many) is this to shamelessly your victories when you can. Because if you don't stop to acknowledge when things are going well, it's easy to feel yourself weighted down by all the thousands of things a week that do not go according to plan. All the stumbles, missteps, and straight-up melt-down failures can make it way too easy to lose your perspective. In other words, it's easy to feel like you're failing, even when you're not. A definition of motherhood, I'm convinced, is physically removing your ego from your body and letting a small army of careless children kick it around like a football for the rest of your life.
It's tough out there, my friends. So, when it's not tough, I encourage you to celebrate that with a series of comforting and encouraging awards, including but certainly not limited to the following:
The "You're Awake" Award
Hooray! You did it! You'd only been asleep for about 45 minutes and, nevertheless, you've persisted and graciously agreed to fulfill your responsibilities to your family, friends, and employer today. Look at you go! You're unstoppable!
The "Look! We Can See Your Floor!" Award
Oh wow! There's a spot over there where toys, clothes, school projects, and a week's worth of laundry aren't covering the ground. We didn't know you had hardwood! What's that? It's not hardwood? It's just two year's worth of dirt on linoleum that somehow resembles wood flooring? Well that's OK! The point is you've cleared that patch of all clutter and we can see it. Here, take this trophy. You've earned it!
The "No One Is Crying Right Now" Award
Try not to cry when you accept this award, because then we'd have to take it back and we really don't want to be the bad guy, but rules are rules.
The "You Thought About Reading A Book" Award
So you didn't actually read a book. So what!? The fact that you thought about it is awesome! It means that you had a minute or two to think about something you wanted to do for you as a leisure activity, and that's huge.
In fact, it's a promising first step! Soon you might actually have the opportunity to select book. Before you know it you'll have joined a book club. Sure, you still wouldn't have finished the book but you'll have started the book and, besides, everyone comes for the wine and conversation anyway.
The "Nothing Is On Fire" Award
Studies have shown that children, pets, and homes not on fire are statistically more likely to be happy and well-balanced and have fewer allergies. Congratulations, mama!
The "Great Job Putting Out That Fire" Award
Who among us can say that nothing has caught on fire under our watch. It's OK. It's out now. And you learned from the last time to get an insurance policy that covers fire, so you're all set (and, in our opinion, a hero, even if, technically, you're the one who started the fire).
The "You Put On Pants" Award
You're wearing pants today. That's... I mean... *slow clap* Not all heroes wear capes. Some of them just find the grit and tenacity to wear pants even when they're not leaving the house.
The "Everyone Ate Something Today" Award
Even you! What was eaten doesn't matter — a handful of goldfish crackers, gummy worms, kale, apples, a half a chicken nugget discovered under the couch. The point is that there is something in everyone's tummy.
The "Kept It Real On Social Media" Award
You didn't sugarcoat this time. No filters, no carefully selecting the one picture taken in the 37 seconds that your child was actually smiling during a particular event. Instead you posted your crappy moment in its full, ugly glory. In a world of mommy bloggers and Instagram celebrities and tacit but unmistakable mompetition on Facebook, this can be an act of courage and resistance, and we salute you.
The "You Didn't Stoop Down To The Level Of That A-Hole Toddler At The Playground" Award
And you really, really wanted to because jeez was that kid a jerk. Who did he think he was, picking on your baby like that? But you remembered that you're an adult and, as a toddler, that child is basically the Freudian concept of id made flesh. You were the bigger person... literally and metaphorically. Good for you!
The "That Mystery Smell In You Car Is Finally Gone" Award
For the first time in three months, your car actually smells like the air freshener and not the smell that inspired you to hang up the air freshener in the first place. Nice! Try not to think about the fact that it probably doesn't smell anymore because your kid found the source of the smell and ate it. Like I said: take victories where you can and put the air freshener in this trophy.
The "You Found That Diaper" Award
Oh neat! You don't even remember leaving it there! Cool! It's like a weird, mommy Easter egg. Into the pail it goes!
The "You Found That Kid" Award
Oh! There you are! I knew you had to be around here somewhere. Welcome back! You're not hurt, are you? Nah: you look like you're in tiptop shape and, besides, you're tremendously robust. Here, eat this cookie and let's not tell grandma this ever happened, OK? Or your teacher. Or the ladies at daycare. Or your other parent. You know what? Let's just keep this between us. Have another cookie.
Nicely done, mama. All your babies are safe and sound in your nest.
The "Your Keys Were Where You Left Them" Award
Whoa! What witchcraft is this?! Keys on the key hook! Surely this is a fortuitous omen. This trophy is surely just a taste of wondrous things to come.
The "You Cleaned Out Your Bag" Award
This trophy is valid within a six month window. Because, honestly, if you can manage it twice a year you have earned it.
The "You Remembered That Other Mom's Name" Award
Amanda? Andrea? Ann? Angelina? Amelia? Ainsley? ASHLEY! HER NAME IS ASHLEY! You remember because she dyed her hair that one time and you asked her what color it was and she said "ash" and you thought, "Oh! That's how I'll remember. Ash. Ashley! YES!" You used your pneumatic device! Well played!
PS: That totally wasn't Ashley. That was Emily. But we don't have the heart to take away this award. You were so proud of yourself.
The "You Didn't Say Or Do Something Awkward & Alienating At Preschool Pickup" Award
Aw! Look at that! See? You can interact with others! You just have to believe in yourself... and mentally instruct yourself to discuss only the weather. No one needs to know your top five favorite Rick and Morty episodes in order.
The "Your Sink Is Empty" Award
Whether or not you were the one who emptied it is beside the point. Maybe it was you. Maybe you got your partner or your mom or one of your children to do it. Maybe you got tired of your house, torched it (we're going to have to take those fire awards back) and moved to a new house to avoid having to do the dishes. It doesn't matter, because there's nothing in the sink and you deserve to be recognized for that.
The "None Of Your Children Have Been Lured Into A Witch's Gingerbread House" Award
Because your children will fall for it. You know it's only a matter of time, but it was not this day. Congratulations.
The "You Weren't Sarcastic In Front Of Your Kids" Award
This is a hard one to manage because, let's face it, sardonic asides are basically in your blood. It takes everything inside you to fight against becoming too wry in front of your children. This award doesn't come along every day (I mean, not for you, anyway) but when you can manage it you should be proud of yourself. Damn proud. This took sacrifice, as in the sacrifice of knowing that the world would be robbed of a particularly biting remark. That perfectly timed moment will never come again, but it's all in the name of raising children who are "kind" and "respectful" and "appropriate" and "don't make the other children cry."
The "Your Kid Was Sarcastic" Award
I mean, yes, it's bad form for you to be sarcastic (officially, anyway) but when your kid demonstrates rapier wit? That is a proud moment. Kudos.
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