A few weeks ago, I had a series of days where I thought seriously about hanging up my motherhood apron and walking out. It started with one kid coming down with the flu while my husband was out of town, quickly followed by the other. Which meant that I was quarantined at home for four solid days.
My son took the long and drawn-out route, holding on to that 102 fever like a souvenir for days on end, but other than the fever, he felt pretty good and played around the house as if nothing was wrong.
My daughter, on the other hand, fell fast and hard, unable to keep anything down for hours and lay, coma-like, on the couch for 12 hours straight, but woke up the next morning without even a hint of a temperature.
I'm not sure what's worse when it comes to sick kids: When fevers keep them from going to school or out in public, but they still feel well enough to get on each others nerves, or when they're so sick they don't want you to leave their side for a millisecond.
At around day four, I thought I might be slowly going insane, and realized I wasn't cut out for this crap. I could never be a nurse, clearly visible in the way I bathed myself in hand sanitizer, buried my nose and mouth in my shirt when I got close to the kids and got angry at the thermometer.
Thankfully, we got through the muck and lived to tell about it. But right in trenches of it all, I realized that these moments are the grit and grime of parenthood. It was a week that would help shape what kind of mother I would be -- the kind that would stay strong, show patience and compassion, put my head down and get through it, instead of trying to avoid everyone by holing up in my room with a case of Girl Scout cookies.
Dammit if I didn't earn that badge of parenthood.
Don't we all? I don't know a single parent that hasn't experienced weeks like this. Like a rite of passage, there are universal experiences we all have as parents, and I often feel like we could earn badges of honor for them. When I'm surrounded by a room full of parents, I envision us all like little Cub and Girl Scouts, dawning invisible polyester vests sprinkled with little merit badges of parenthood.
The Potty-Training Badge
The Week-Long Flu Badge
The Sleep Training Badge
The Sight Words Badge
The ER Visit Badge
The Road Trip Badge
The Too Many Days at Disney Badge
The My Kid Won't Keep His Diaper On At Naptime Badge
The I Screwed Up As Tooth Fairy Badge
The Over Committed Room Parent Badge
The I Need To Be In Two Places At Once Badge
The Sitting Through Hours of Recitals/Double Headers/Meets/Tournaments Badge
The Our Kids Only Eat Yellow Foods and Might Have Scurvy Badge
While phases like this seem to take forever to resolve, we parents muster through them and live to face the next one. Except, as parents, we don't need to show off these accomplishments. Our merit badges lie in the (hopefully) rested, healthy smiles of our children's faces, the hugs that reassure we have the magic touch to make things better, or the joy of watching our children accomplish something on their own.
Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!
Which one of these merit badges have you earned?