There are many fabulous youth organizations in operation today such as the Girl Guides and the Boy Scouts. Children participating in their programs are awarded badges when they learn a new skill or achieve a new feat. It is an excellent way of both tracking what you have accomplished and motivating you to do more. As mothers, we may be too old to pull on uniforms, sing special songs and fundraise by selling cookies but that doesn’t mean we’ve outgrown every element of these youth groups.
If anything, being a mom makes us more in need than ever of being able to look back and see what we have achieved, and personally speaking, I think you are never too old for a bit of motivational bling. With that in mind, I thought it was about time someone created a set of “Mommy Merit Badges.”
Knowing that having kids drains your bank balance as much as your energy, there probably isn’t much of a market for creating such charms on a bracelet for you to collect but maybe next time you’re sitting coloring with your little or crafting with your teen, you could whip yourself up a mommy merit badge to reward yourself for a job well done.
Here are some award categories to give you some inspiration.
20 The “I Broke My Child” Badge
Awarded after your first trip to the emergency room with your little one. You were panicking and didn’t know what to do, but you managed to pull yourself together enough to take some action. You bundled your little one into the car, parked, made your way into the ER, saw the doctor, and were allowed home again with your child, despite the fact kiddo managed to jump off of the shed roof and break their arm while you were supposed to be parenting them.
Further trips to the ER will be marked with the addition of a star to this badge.
19 The “Tantrum Commander” Badge
Your child is usually so well-behaved, and the sudden screaming meltdown in the middle of Costco comes entirely out of the blue. Instead of being reduced to a quivering wreck while under the reproachful gaze of your disapproving fellow shoppers, you lean back against the nearest shelving, cross your arms and adopt the serene demeanor of a 100-year-old Zen master.
Not only does your child quickly give up their unexpected excursion to the land of “enfant terrible” but they do so without you having to do a thing.
18 The “I Didn’t Throttle My Teen” Badge
Once you have a teen with whom you have to temper tango, it can feel like you passed through the terrible twos like a hot knife through butter. When they're little, you can lift them up and put them in bed or plonk them down on the stairs for a time-out, but neither of these tactics works when your child is fourteen and six inches taller than you are.
Instead, when your adult child shouts that you are “so unfair” and “totally ruining my life” before stalking off to their room, banging the door shut and cranking up their music to ear-splitting levels, you just stick in your earbuds, drown them out with your own sounds and go back to whatever you were doing. You did this without ripping off your teen's arm and battering them about the head with the soggy end. You are a rock star.
17 The “Parental Passion” Badge
Managing to get intimate when you’re a parent is always an award-worthy achievement. If you think being too exhausted by taking care of the baby is making it difficult to get it on, wait until your kids are older. Toddlers have a sixth sense which ensures that the moment your skin touches the skin of your partner, a desperate wail will erupt from the next room and you’ll have to rush to investigate. On your return, your other half will have already fallen asleep.
An older child is guaranteed to walk in on you at an inopportune moment which obliterates the mood every time. Meanwhile, some parents are furtively trying to jump each other's bones without making a sound because the teenager in the house might hear them and know what they are doing.
16 The “School Production Pro” Badge
Some moms thrive on the hustle and bustle of school life, throwing themselves with enthusiasm into fetes, fairs, and school plays. The rest of us, however, feel our stomachs sink when our kiddo whips a letter out of their bag asking you to participate in organizing and running whatever hellish event they have planned this time.
To win this badge, you have to not roll your eyes and sigh when you are given the note, sign yourself up to help and not lose your marbles once with one of the oh so perfect moms who will be bossing you around. Take heart; once you have this badge, you never have to do this again.
15 The “Overnight Miracle” Badge
It’s the night before your kids return to school after Spring Break and your tween casually turns to you and says “Oh, I forgot, I have to take an illustrated 20 page paper about insect poop/a science project/a quarter-size model of the Empire State Building made of popsicle sticks into school in the morning, and it will be half of my marks for the entire year."
You should let your child fail, but you know they won’t learn their lesson and that you are the only one who will freak out if that happens. Instead, you burn the midnight oil, staying up until dawn creating an award-winning masterpiece for your child to claim they did themselves.
Try not to be upset when your child only gets a C for your work; you get a merit badge for your trouble.
14 The “Catcher” Badge
Nobody knows why this happens but, if you are in the vicinity when your child starts to throw-up, you will instinctively lunge forward, reaching out in a futile effort to catch what your kiddo is throwing.
A sane and rational mind knows that by putting out your hands to try and protect the floor or furniture from the tide of vomit, you are only going to make it spread even further while coating yourself in sick at the same time. We’re moms though, and rational thought went out of the window a long time ago. So give yourself this award, just remember to wash your hands thoroughly before you accept it.
13 The “Sports Mom” Badge
You hate football/soccer/hockey/anything that involves having to wash a team uniform and sit on the sidelines in the rain every Saturday for six months of the year, but your kid made the team, so you have to put your game face on, be a supportive mom, and cheer them on.
There is no special effort required for this badge. No putting together cute halftime snack packs, with each one individually named and themed for each child is necessary. Nor are you expected to help fundraise or organize a team phone tree. Getting your mini athlete there and back on time and in one piece and sitting through three tedious hours of play in the rain is effort enough.
12 The “Kids Show Binge” Badge
It might be Peppa Pig that your little one adores, or maybe Paw Patrol is the show which makes them smile. Whatever it is that the kiddo is passionate about this week, it’s likely you will have to sit down with them and watch enough episodes to cause your already weakened-by-motherhood brain cells to begin dying off.
It might be boring, but it will give you and your little one the chance to curl up next to each other on the sofa, share snacks, and giggle together. And just so you know, the repetitive theme tune that gets stuck in your head, it will still be there in 20 years time, trust me I know.
11 The “Holed Up In The Washroom” Badge
Given out to those lucky few moms who manage to not only go to the washroom, without rushing or being interrupted but who can also sit there on their ‘phones and play five levels of Candy Crush before emerging once more into the light of day.
This is a tricky thing to achieve. Most young children are unable to see a closed bathroom door without being inexplicably drawn to walking up and banging on it relentlessly with their tiny fists. This is usually accompanied by wails of “mom, let me in” and “what are you doing in there?” and, if you’re really unlucky, little wriggling fingers will appear under the door.
10 The “Doctor Mom” Badge
It is a rite of passage for all mommas. Making your little one a comfortable nest on the sofa, putting on their favorite show and keeping them supplied with soothing drinks, gives you something practical to do while all of those microscopic germs run roughshod over your mini-me.
Bestowed upon those who are most skilled in mopping hot faces and holding tissues up to runny noses so a child can blow their schnoz without covering their faces in snot, the Doctor Mom badge is a symbol of your love, ability to be nurturing, and dedication in the face of fever induced complaining, a foul-smelling sick room and nasty bodily fluids.
9 The “Grown-Ups Night Out” Badge
Despite the fact you swore you would never let having a child change who you are, surprise surprise, having a child changed who you were. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us, and it is not a bad thing, but it does mean that that resolution to go out at least once a week with your friends has probably fallen by the wayside.
Once you have adjusted to your exhausting yet exhilarating, yet more exhausting on top of that, new life, you will eventually get it together to go out with friends once again.
You may no longer have the distraction-free life with few responsibilities that once allowed you to party all night and not worry about anything else, but making it out of the house in non-mommy clothes and spending a few hours with other grown-ups is worthy of celebration.
8 The “HeartBreak Healer” Badge
When your child is little and falls down and scrapes their knee, there is little you can do but soothe them by washing the graze and applying liberal quantities of cuddles to the wounded child. As they grow older, your children have fewer of these injuries, and they appear to need your comfort less and less.
Then, just when you are thinking your help is no longer in demand, your teen will have their first broken heart, and you are called upon to dispense a different kind of first aid. When you’ve sat up all night, stroking the hair of a sobbing teen, who believes the end of the world is here, you qualify for the heartbreak healer badge.
7 The “Homework Helper” Badge
We go through our early years at school complaining that we are being taught things we are never going to use, while our parents drum into us the fact that it is all important.
Then we become parents ourselves, our child asks for help with their homework, and we suddenly realize, we were right all along and we’ve never used any of those things we learned in fourth grade, and have entirely forgotten every last detail.
You can earn this badge one of two ways, either knowing something useful that helps your little scholar or by bluffing your way through by saying, “You should look it up yourself, you’ll remember it better than if I just tell you.”
6 The “Party Pro” Badge
Not only did you manage to buy balloons, decorations, cups, plates, napkins and a tablecloth all with the same theme, but you sent out the invitations and put together party bags for the guests. On top of that, you remembered to order a cake ahead of time instead of running to the store two hours before the party and presenting your son, who was expecting a superhero centerpiece, a bright pink and purple, prancing unicorn cake.
You did it. You threw a successful kids birthday party and you didn’t even throttle a single guest in the process.
5 The “Nailed It” Badge
Child number five recently came up to me and asked: “Please, can we make the ice cream cone, unicorn cupcakes I saw on The Icing Artists YouTube channel?” Despite the fact I am aware that I make total disasters in the kitchen look good, I said yes.
To cut a long story short we ended up with a tray of soggy, bent over ice cream cones with a multi-colored sponge in the top and bottom and an inexplicable band of uncooked cake batter across the middle.
I, however, have no shame and I still proudly posted those mothers on Instagram - now give me my “nailed it” badge, please.
4 The “Crafty Cheater” Badge
A lot of parenthood is about balancing your child’s need to learn about and function in the real world while not becoming so dispirited and discouraged when things go wrong that they are always giving up on things and feeling bad about themselves.
It truly tugs at the heartstrings when your kiddo tries very hard at a craft and instead of a cute little bunny made from egg boxes and pipe cleaners they end up crying because their work resembles something the dog threw up.
“Crafty Cheater” badgers are granted to moms who secretly fix their kid's craft disasters in the middle of the night so the next morning their little one finds happiness, not horror.
3 The “Fake Bake” Badge
In the same vein, the “Fake Bake” is given not to those who try to salvage their child’s self-esteem but instead is given to the moms who work to save face by buying baked goods and then trying to pass them off as homemade.
We wouldn’t have to do this if it wasn’t for all of those moms who can bake. They turn-up places with trays of pastries, tarts, cookies, and cakes that people look at and think “oh that looks tasty, I want to try one of those.” My efforts always end up at the end of a table, untouched, and frequently getting “accidentally” knocked to the floor.
If you have ever, like me, bought large frozen sausage rolls then chopped them into uneven snack sizes, so they don’t look all regular and machine made, then baked them and pretended you made them from scratch, this badge is for you.
2 The “Parent Evening Embarrassment” Badge
With little kids, parent evenings at school are generally all smiles and decorated classrooms. Any bad news has been conveyed to you ahead of time, and there are no surprises.
High School is another matter.
Imagine speaking with your daughter’s Math teacher who asks you if you are feeling better when you have not been ill. You discover dear daughter told her teachers you had a breakdown. She did this to excuse the fact she did hardly any work for a full term and to ensure they didn’t “make you any iller” by contacting you to discuss her lack of progress.
Keep your composure in the face of this or a similar curveball and you win this badge
1 The “Did Something For Myself” Badge
Last, but by no means least is the award to celebrate your evolution from the mom who shortchanges herself because she is always busy putting herself first, into the mom who can go and have her haircut without being overwhelmed by guilt.
Bonus points if you can sit in the chair without calculating how many pairs of kiddies socks you could have brought with the money you are spending on yourself or going for the cheapest possible haircut option, even though it’s not what you want, because you cannot bear to pay out more than $20 on yourself.