I look up to the more experienced mothers around me. I especially look up to those mothers that have “been there, done that.” They have learned volumes in the trenches, and I admire their hard-earned wisdom. I want to rub shoulders with them and learn everything that I can from them. It is like I am a freshman in high school, and someday, I, too, hope to be a senior.
About a year or two ago, I was having a particularly difficult day as a mother. I was begrudging the day a bit when my perspective started to change, as I considered the obvious truth that hard days are inevitable in motherhood, and if I want to “earn” the privilege of someday being an experienced, wise mother, then I am going to have to go through some pretty tough days in the trenches myself. These challenging days can be viewed as a sort of “privilege,” an opportunity to prove myself in the Junior Varsity league of motherhood.
At the end of that hard day several years ago, I jokingly gave myself an award for surviving it all. And, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, I will admit that thus began my tradition of awarding myself “Merit Badges of Motherhood.” Boy Scouts earn merit badges for learning to build fires, making baskets or surviving a canoe trip. Why not give myself a little recognition for the ways that I am growing and the milestones that I am crossing as a young mother?
So I did. And I still do.
For me a “Merit Badge of Motherhood” is a figure of speech that provides a therapeutic dose of comic relief to change my perspective on a hard moment. I figured I can either endure the hard days or recognize and celebrate them for the experience, progress and wisdom gained. My figurative “merit badges” make me smile, and I give myself a little pat on the back as I earn them. What’s not to like about that? In a sense, these “merit badges” commemorate the days that I finally do what I had previously thought impossible.
Here are some of my favorite “Merit Badges”:
- I distinctly remember the awkward day that I first earned the “Nursed My Baby in Public” award.
- Then there was the joyous “Survived My Toddler’s First Public Tantrum” award.
- How about the long day (and night) when I earned the “Cared for Two Puking Toddlers at the Same Time” badge? That was fun.
- Most moms can relate to the chaos that accompanies the “Flew on a Plane with Two Toddlers by Myself” award.
- As the kids multiplied, so did my opportunities for growth, and I’ll never forget the “Took Three Kids to the Doctor with Me” award.
And the list goes on! While all of these moments may seem small or inconsequential to others, they were monumental feats to me in my personal mothering journey. Since nothing is ever as hard the second time around, crossing these “first” hurdles made me feel empowered and a little more confident in my personal abilities and mothering skills. More than anything, the “Merit Badges” I have earned have prepared me to face whatever obstacles may come next on my path to experienced Motherdom with courage and humor.
QUESTION: If you could award yourself some “Merit Badges of Motherhood,” what would they be?
CHALLENGE: The next time you have a particularly hard moment as a mother, stop and think about what you are learning. Try to find the humor in a tough situation and award yourself a “Merit Badge of Motherhood.” Proudly display this “badge” by sharing your experience and wisdom with other moms.