It’s January and I have finally committed to ironing the Girl Scout badges onto my daughter’s Daisy uniform. She’s been a Daisy for four months, and is the only girl with an empty vest. Meanwhile, it’s cookie season and I hear no one will buy cookies from an empty vested child.
1. Confidence: I don’t iron often but feel confident that I can do this. Before taking my daughter up to bed, my husband finds the iron in the basement. I dust it off, plug it in, and set it to high heat. Hotter is always better, right?
2. Elation: The first badge irons on without complication. The American flag waves proudly atop the royal blue vest, celebrating my success. The Girl Scout bar and troop number follow suit. I am a domestic goddess! I’ll finish the remaining 2,346 badges in 20 minutes and return to prepping my spring semester syllabus. I’m leaning in, baby!
3. Concern: I turn to the colorful Daisy petals that represent aspirational traits of a Girl Scout: responsible, helpful, makes the world a better place without knowing how to light a campfire. I lay the petals in the appropriate order around the Amazing Daisy Promise Center, whatever the fuck that is, and lower the iron with care. When I lift the vest to admire my work, three petals fall to the floor while the rest dangle precariously. What fresh hell is this?
4. Alarm: The Girl Scout bar, the flag, and the number 7 are coming loose! Pushing my hair out of my face, I shove the iron down in desperation, but no amount of heat or strength changes the outcome. A second troop number leaps to the rug in front of me. I’d probably be more prepared if I’d ever earned a sewing patch myself but, alas, I was never a Scout.
5. Distress: I don’t know who I’m trying to kid; I can’t do this. I’m not the mom with the tidy house and a healthy dinner on the table every night at 6 pm. I’m the mom whose kid runs out of clean underwear before I get to the laundry and who has toys creeping into the dining room, where we rarely eat anyhow.
6. Rage: My husband comes in and finds me sprawled on the living room rug, eyes wide, forehead sweaty, iron held aloft, badges strewn about like scattered leaves and scattered dreams. “They won’t stick,” I wail, holding up a handful of unattached badges as evidence.
“Why don’t you just ask Marta for help?” he questions, eyeing my flushed cheeks. Marta, our friend and neighbor and the mother of one of our daughter’s best friends. Marta, who can simultaneously run a load of laundry, sew a handmade Halloween costume, and bake low-sugar mini muffins that actually taste good. I glare at my husband with misplaced vitriol. I will not ask Marta, thus admitting my insufficiency as a mother. I will prevail.
7. Desperation: I google it. Aha! A blogger claims to have the solution. Whatever I do, Domestic Mom says, I am not to use staples. I would be that mom. Everyone will know that I’m dialing it in. Glue might seem like an easy solution, but it won’t last. The best option, obviously, is to use invisible stitching with your sewing machine, and don’t forget to match the thread color to each individual badge. This is what any good mother would do.
Sure, Domestic Mom, let me get my sewing machine. It’s in the basement, right next to my washboard and my butter churner.
8. Bargaining: I try to hand sew one of the patches, with thread that doesn’t match at all, but my flimsy needles won’t penetrate the thick material. I stab myself twice and curse Domestic Mom. She probably owns a thimble. She would probably never eat a whole box of Thin Mints in one sitting.
9. Blame: I momentarily abandon the vest and rant to my husband about the evils of the patriarchy and the unreasonable expectations placed on working parents who don’t have time to fight with the iron. My husband agrees and then escapes to his office, leaving me to lick my domestic wounds. I hope he’s not texting Marta.
10. Resignation: Against the advice of Domestic Mom, I get the glue. And not just any glue; I get the super glue. The result: the badges stay securely attached, but so does the cardboard on which I had put the vest. When I peel off the cardboard, it leaves behind a thin layer of residue. My only comfort is that this blob-shaped evidence of my shame is tucked away out of view from the unflappable troop leader and happy Daisies with vests covered in patches.
The next morning, my daughter finds her half-decorated vest waiting next to her backpack and shrieks with delight. She doesn’t notice the glue. When she tries it on, though, the American flag tumbles to the floor. Perhaps I should have used the stapler…