There are no awards in motherhood, but the military is full of them. When you are in the military you get regular at-a-boys to help encourage and motivate you. Motherhood is quite the opposite. Most of your days you wear yourself out giving and giving and end up with a pile full of laundry, a messy house and a tired soul. So, when I left the military to stay at home I did not understand why I felt like each day nothing was accomplished when I had done so much.
Quarterly awards were handed out to various ranks and pay grades, and then at the end of the year, Yearly awards are given out as well. Along the way, you have your obscure award competitions. I once won an award for being the Engineer of the Year or something like that. You could be impressed, but I don’t think very many people actually applied.
The military also gives you medals for your service. Some you earn just by breathing. Others are more admirable, as the Combat Action Medal, I earned by getting shot at in Afghanistan. Actually, you get a number of medals for going to a combat zone even if nothing exciting happens when you are there. But they are your markers to other military members about the history of your service.
Someone once asked me when I was a juror on a court-martial how I got so many medals. Since I was the youngest person on the jury and had more medals than everyone except for one. The person with more medals than me quickly piped up that I had deployed. And he said that red one with yellow stripes means she has been shot at. He already knew the answer to why I had so many medals since we shared so many. He also had a Combat Action Medal and I was impressed. In the military you boast about your accomplishments right on your chest and not because you want to, that’s just the way it is.
Motherhood is Different
Motherhood gets so mucked up with all the noise. People comparing, sharing and exaggerating the truth. Why did I have more medals than others because I deployed? Did I ask for it or do anything besides my duty? No. Are all children the same? No, some are great sleepers, others have issues. What works for one family might not work for another. All I know is that each path we are given isn’t easy. Where someone struggles another flourish. If we all try to help and encourage each other instead of trying to knock each other down, maybe motherhood wouldn’t be so hard.
I liked being recognized but didn’t realize the importance of these awards or recognition. Or maybe I liked excelling at something that came naturally to me. I didn’t ask or want to go on an Army deployment that took me outside of the wire, but that was the hand I was dealt.
Motherhood looked so easy from the outside, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, but then I became a mom and went from receiving awards to feeling like I was failing each day. And it took a lot of time to see that I wasn’t.
Awards in Motherhood
I am actually wrong about there being no awards in motherhood. Yes, there are no plaques or medals that you pin to your chest. But there are awards. Those little moments when your son jumps up and hugs you as if he hasn’t seen you in a week and it literally has just been the 5 seconds you went outside to do laundry, again. Or when your little one exclaims “You are the best mommy ever.” And you look at him and wonder what does he see that you don’t. And I don’t even know what it looks like when your little guys are all grown up. To see the people that you nurtured and mothered become adults must be something I can’t even imagine.
These awards are hidden in a special place, inside a mother’s heart. It is hard long days, but I already know that the years are super short. So I will take my special moments and try to remember these awards are worth something far greater than what I ever had before.
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