Soldiers earn medals for varied acts of valor. Boy and girl scouts earn badges for learning new life skills. Movie industry types win awards for "Best Score For An Independent Film Made In South East Asian On A Tuesday." Parents earn ... Healthy, somewhat well adjusted, children, if we do our jobs well. Shouldn’t there be a reward system for those moments that we really shine? Like the first time you successfully catch vomit from your child who is strapped into their carseat all while safely operating a moving vehicle down the highway? Or the first time you get through a nasty cold that only you, the parent, seems to have caught and somehow your child is exceptionally full of health and energy? Where is my badge awarded to me for these things?
I think it is high time we start celebrating the things we do, as parents, that we get little, if any, recognition for. It is time for us to gather our flair and pin it proudly to our vests. It is time to be proud of the work we do, regardless of the thankless nature of it.
Just this week I would have a fancy-pants sash full of new badges if someone was handing them out. I managed to simultaneously teach my daughter to blow her nose and remove a chunk of play dough that was lodged in her left nostril. (Bam! Two medals in one!) I also managed to kiss my daughter goodbye, while she was on the potty, and remove a band-aid that she was being overly protective of. All without her even wincing.
Potty Training badge? Check!
Seamless transitions medal? Check!
Boo-boo maintenance trophy? Check!
Seriously folks, most moms and dads would have a trophy room Tiger could only dream of in a week’s time. We are the unsung heroes in this battle to raise good people. We do things on a daily basis that child-less people only get to see on old episodes of "Fear Factor."
I won’t even get started on the massive amounts of recognition a pregnant woman and her partner would amass in a (relatively) short nine months. The Purple Heartburn medal and The Fulfilling Every Random Craving award come to mind. That giant golden Oscar that sits in front of the theatre on Academy Awards night should go to every woman who has ever birthed a child. Ever.
As your child grows so does the list of potential medals. How about the Distract And Redirect badge? You could earn this in a variety of manners and locations. Bonus badge for bypassing the grocery store candy aisle melt down. The awards get bigger as your child ages. Down the road there will be the Engaged In Full Conversation Without Single Eyeroll medal and the always coveted Successful Birds And Bees Talk badge.
Of course there will be days that there are no medals to be had. Days where the television wins and the only vegetable consumed is ketchup. Days that, by nightfall, seemed like an epic battle that no one triumphed over but everyone survived. Those are the days where those shimmering statues and glowing awards would come in handy. On those days, we could tuck our children into bed, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, dust off, and gaze at our accomplishments letting our self perceived failures fade. We could have a constant reminder of all the hard work we put into parenting.
While we may never get shiny trophies or newly sewn badges we will get much more. We get moments where our children say "I love you mommy. I love you daddy." Then calls you the best ever and throws their tiny arms around your neck. Instant trophy. Better than a love merit badge. Or two. These are the moments that make all that heroic work in the trenches worth it. It is then that you realize you don’t really need a shiny statuette to show all of your achievements. Your child is your walking talking, food throwing, fit having award. And I don’t know about you, but I will take that over any dust collecting bauble any day.
What parenting trophies should you have on your shelf? What are you sporting for mommy merit badges? Got any daddy-medals to show off? Email me or head over to my Facebook page to tell me about them. We may not have any to show but that doesn’t mean we can’t show off.
Michelle Stephens writes from her tiny house that she shares with the loves of her life. Her only reference for time is the seasons and the growth of her child. She wanders with a purpose and day dreams frequently. Her writing can be found on her parent-oriented blog: www.JuiceboxConfession.com, her personal musings: www.MichelleElizabeth.wordpress.com, and on her writer’s collective: www.LiteraryTraces.com.