The Slow-Cooked Sentence

I deserve a merit badge

Rachael Conlin Levy
A Mama Merit Badge

I’ve spent the last three days in doctors’ offices asking why my baby is sick. He’s had diarrhea for 2 1/2 weeks, hasn’t gained weight in over a month and suffers from chronic eczema on his cheek. I’ve cradled him during allergy tests and blood draws, and been sent home to fill five jars with stool samples. I feel as battered and bruised as he looks, and there are still no answers.

While the scratches and pricks broke my heart, trying to collect stool samples tested my sanity. Of the five jars, two had to be collected from the same stool, and a different two jars had to contain samples that were (preferably) one hour old or been refrigerated. In an effort to scoop poop, I covered the toilet bowl in a film of plastic wrap, wrapped his bottom in plastic wrap, and, finally, at 5:30 a.m., held the tiny jars up to his irritated bottom and filled them.

The jars and vials are at the lab, the allergy test results are on their way to the pediatrician, and now I must cap my fears (just like I’d like to plug his irritated little rectum with a cork), and wait through the weekend.

And while I’ve had eye and ear trained on my baby’s red-faced grunts, I managed to get on the computer and, via a friend, learn about Mama Merit Badges, the brainchild of Amy Bowers. This Florida mom says she designed the badges in response to the “dearth of authentic recognition for the very hard work of mothering. Overly sentimentalized depictions of motherhood belie the actual daily duties that alternately feel like drudgery, brave political acts, and absurd performance art.”

This week I earned my first badge.

One response to “I deserve a merit badge”

  1. Jammer says:

    I think you surely earned a few badges before this. 🙂

    I hope the little guy gets better!

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