Friday, April 4, 2008

Parent Scouts

I was driving to work this morning, ready to drop the kids off at school. At the stoplight, I reached into the grocery bag full of snacks and lunches and began distributing the contents into the appropriate Princess bags: Lean Pocket, Capri Sun, Little Debbie - Pink Aurora lunch bag; grilled cheese, fruit snacks, sippy cup - Blue Ariel bag....hmmm....where is the Ariel bag? Ok, griled cheese, fruit snacks, sippy cup - plastic Kroger bag.

'Wonderful' I silently muse. 'That Kroger bag will look fabulous sitting in the big bin full of eco-friendly hand-sewn from used coffee sacks with pure wool monogram lunch bags.' 'How do these parents find the time and energy?' I think to myself. 'Why do they bother bringing tempeh hot dogs for the school's annual Impress Other Parents Day? It's not as if they get a badge that shows they have completed this particular chapter in Parenthood!'

And then a funny idea struck me. Maybe we ARE just earning badges!

Wouldn't it be so much easier if we could see the badges on a sash like in Girl Scouts?

Moira has been attending Missionettes for the past couple years. She is a Rainbow and has earned lots of badges. I'm supposed to sew them onto a blue sash. I don't know the approximate or even general location of any of these hard earned items. Luckily, Moira hasn't asked for her badge-adorned sash yet. If she does, I will have to cut up an old t-shirt and whip out the magic markers.

Anways, badges can be useful. They alert us to the authenticity of law enforcement, which can be very useful if you have ever been pulled over by a fake cop. (Which, indidentally, I have.) The police badges let us know that they are indeed who they claim to be. Or that they have killed the person they claim to be. Either way, useful information.

Badges tell us if we need to show more respect to the passing military officer. Yes, we should respect her anyways; but if she has a badge that says she has seen combat and quite literally put her life on the line, how much more respect does she deserve? (The answer to that would be TONS)

Badges help us read more into the lives of those that we encounter daily. Not all badges are tiny scraps of metal or cloth, however. Some 'badges' that we use are more like symbols. For example, my father is treated differently when he is in public wearing his priest collar. Sometimes he is treated worse; not everyone likes a clergyman. But if he walks down a hospital corridor, he is almost guaranteed to elicit thankful stares or requests for prayer for a sick child. His collar is a badge, a symbol of what he has done and what he works for.

What would Parent Badges look like? Which ones would I have or covet?

I have seen websites (scary websites that make me want to suck my thumb) that are filled with women sharing pictures of their so-called Mommy Badges: purple stretch marks clawing up their belly and sad little (or big) saggy post-pregnancy boobies that quite frankly make me recall the images of National Geographic that I snuck a peek at during 5th grade library time.

I shouldn't poke fun at these website women, but I do. I know they are just trying to reclaim their...whatever, I think it is weird. I could think of my jigglypoof hind quarters as a prize won through battle, but generally I just see jigglypoof. I wouldn't give my kids back, but I would gladly trade in my dimply thighs for some self-shaving cellulite-free ones.

That being said, I do think that a Pregnancy Badge would be in order. Then we could just show that off instead of the deflated balloon boobies. I can think of some more obvious ones: Adoption Badge, Breastfeed in Public and Proud of it Badge, Triplet Badge, SAHM Badge, Miscarriage Badge, Working Mom Badge, 23 hour Labor Badge (which would help you stay clear of the woman wearing it so as to avoid long talks about her foot-long episiotomy and use of baby salad head tongs)

I think we kind of give these badges out mentally. Even though I stay away from 23 hour Labor lady, I do appreciate what she went through. Likewise, I have tons of respect for those parents who adopt children. There is so much work involved before you even get to hold your baby, and I know so many parents of adopted children who go through this arduous process because they love that unseen child just as I did mine.

But it is the elite group of specialty badges that intrigues me. I have met some amazing parents, and sometimes I wonder how on earth or heaven above they do what they do. Without naming names, I would award some of the following less common Parent Badges:

Richard (ok, that one might be obvious) gets a 'Keep It Coming' Badge. She endured pregnancy and childbirth armed with yours truly, because her baby daddy was away on Army business. I almost fainted when I saw the birthing process from the southern hemisphere. I mentally abused (as in - in my head) the nurse who tried unsuccessfully to administer an IV no less than 6 times. Richard has a full-time job, is a Master's student, helps at her church, and listens to the woes of middle school drama. On top of that is the regular joy of painting 3 year old toenails and knowing Veggie Tales music by heart. She is amazing and makes me feel inadequate in a good way. I am just always so impressed, and I think she has a Time Turner. (If you do not know what this is, please read Harry Potter)

Shanequa....this is fun....has (soon to be) 3 kids in 3.5 years. She deserves the 'Wow, How Do You Do That?' Badge. Because, WOW, that is lots of pregnancy in not a lot of time. She also manages to send thoughtful gifts and notes to my kids for holidays that the Post Office doesn't even recognize. Her husband is in the Navy and I don't even remember how many places she has lived.She does this all with humor and grace and not an ounce of 'I'm Better Than You' attitude that seems prevalent among the Playground Princess Posse.

Paige gets the 'Sacrifice' Badge. We all sacrifice for those that we love, and parenthood is just another example. I feel that I sacrified my ability to fully experience my 21st birthday because Moira insisted on having brain cells. But Paige....Paige REALLY made some sacrifices. She doen't have a life-threatening condition, but rather a sometimes life-altering condition. She had to go to doctors and change her daily medication and a whole host of other things in order to try for a baby. These changes could have really made things difficult, and I'm sure they did. But she wanted a child, and from the outside she and Chester (her psedonum husband) looked like heroes to me. Paige now has another little Peanut on the way, and she called today to tell me that Peanut has a heartbeat! I'm very excited, and I hope Chester is too.

Sonshine...bwahaha at that one of the best-humored parents I know. She makes me feel like a normal parent, which is no small feat. I appreciate that she shares how sometimes she wants to close the door and WALK AWAY from the screaming children. She manages her energetic children, a DAYCARE IN HER HOME, and seems to still be herself. I can't really put into words how much that impresses me, but it does. Sometimes I feel like I'm not Tiffany anymore as much as Receptionist and Mom. Sonshine writes about her life in the most humorous and touching (but not cheesy) way. (If you want to read her blogs, I will share her true identity with you)

I could go on and on and on with my awards. I have single mom friends, friends who don't have kids but want them, friends who have chronically sick children, and friends that doubt themselves as much as I do. I want to award them all for the Badges they have earned. But I'm not sure all of my friends want me to talk about them, even if I am using top-secret code names.

So maybe those fancy lunch-tote parents do want a badge. And maybe that isn't so bad. We all need a little something to work towards. I have my eye on a 'Perfect Thigh' Badge. But I am also working on a 'Better Temper' Badge and 'Bath Without Tears' Badge. I'll keep working on them, and you keep working on yours.

If you don't, I'll make you talk to 23 Hour Labor lady. Trust me; she wants to talk to you.

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