The idea occurred to me around one a.m. At least I think it was one a.m. — you reach a point when you stop wondering what unpleasant hour in the middle of the night it is that your children have you out of bed after a while. The Hubs, the Tank and I were asleep on a blow-up mattress in HH’s sister’s place, and the Bear was tucked into his tent at the foot of our bed.
He woke up with a frightful holler: Mom-muhhhhhhh! Mom-meeeee! And I got up and grabbed him, with the expectation that I’d be comforting him back to sleep because he’d had a bad dream. Instead, once he was in my arms he uttered two simple, but very profound words:
He wimpered and then repeated them: “I feel.”
And before I had a chance to make sense of what it was exactly that he was feeling, I had an unexpected feeling: the feeling of his dinner of sausage and mashed potatoes, which made a second appearance on his shirt, all over my shirt, and in my hair.
Hero Hubs began the arduous task of tip-toeing into the master bedroom and giving the Bear a bath while I began the equally arduous task of rinsing all of the items that had been so gracefully baptized with bangers and mash.
We’d been in the Kruger National Park looking for game for a few days prior to this incident, and the only animal out of the Big Five we’d failed to catch a glimpse of was the lion.
The last article of clothing I was busy rinsing chunks from at that delightful hour when all is well if all are asleep, was the Bear’s little pajama top. That little pajama top was decorated with a little lion in his own pajamas. I felt certain at that moment, in the middle of the night, that it was some strange twist of fate — here is my lion, wild, and messy, and smiling at me with a knowing smirk, as if he knew all along we’d meet here, just like this.
Can I say I saw all of the Big Five in the wild on this trip now?
As I finished rinsing his murky mane, I pondered why it is exactly that these are the moments when I feel most like a mother. Some thirty-six hours before the Bear and I had our heads leaned out the window of Mr. Potato Head as his diesel engine grumbled us through the Kruger. We giggled as we tracked animals by looking at pawprints along the dirt road, and we felt certain that a particular type of poop we were consistently spotting was poop that belonged to a Gruffalo. It was a magical moment — a special memory.
But one a.m., at the gorgeous oversized basin of my sister-in-law’s guest bathroom, rinsing puke from blankets, a sheet, two t-shirts and my hair, why does this feel like motherhood?
I decided at that moment that Parenthood deserves its own system of special merit badges. The first badge that came to mind, of course, was the I Got Puked On in the Middle of the Night and Can’t Wash My Hair Until Morning Badge.
Screaming Child in the Grocery Store and Child Throwing Tantrum on the Floor in Public would have to be on the list. My Kid Figured Out How to Unlock the Bathroom Door and I Was Publicly Viewed While Sitting on the Toilet, My Kid Pulled Up My Skirt in Front of Strangers and My Kid Ran Off in Public and I Freaked Out Trying to Find Him have to make the cut.
And of course, there are many other Merit Badges we parents can aspire toward earning:
I Peed into a Diaper on a Long Road Trip Rather Than Stop the Car With Sleeping Kids
My Toddler Wailed Loudly From Take-off to Landing on a Three-Hour Flight (Extra merit: Longer Flight)
My Kid Used a Swear Word in Front of the Pastor (Extra merit: During His Sermon)
We Spent the Night In the Emergency Room Once a Week for Two Months Because of Minor Household Accidents
I’ve Made a Personal Apology to Every Woman in a Changing Room After Realising My Son Crawled Under Each and Every Door
My Daughter Pulled Up Her Dress and Flashed the Church During the Christmas Pageant
I’ve Pretended to Not Know Whose Kids My Kids Were to Avoid Public Embarrassment
My Son Punched a Public Figure in the Crotch in Front of a Large Crowd (Extra merit if it’s A Well-Known Celeb)
I Was Pooped On Just Before Boarding a Plane For an Eleven-Hour Flight (Extra merit: With No Change of Clothes)
I’ve decided a talented graphic designer should come up with the style and design of the badges, and like everything else these days, they’ll be printed as stickers and stuck to our cars. That way, friends and strangers alike can be impressed by what successful parents we are.
Don’t even try to steal this idea, I’m getting a trademark next week and stickers will be in print soon.
Got any badge requests?