There’s No Medal At the End of Motherhood

Last night some friends and I went to see Bad Moms. After explaining to the non-Americans that yes, shit like that really does happen in American PTA meetings, we talked about the idea of women doing it all.

Why do women so often feel that no matter what we do as mothers it is never enough? Why do we carry around the idea that if only we do better, do more, then we’ll win at it?

Motherhood isn’t a sport you can train for. It’s not a game you can win.

There’s no medal waiting for you at the end of motherhood.

You work your ass off. You give up cheese and wine and deli meat for nine months. You stop dying your hair. Most of us give up a a body part or two (did I ever tell you how being pregnant wrecked my teeth?). You give up sleep and sex and alone time. You give up hobbies, the Sunday paper in peace, Saturday afternoon naps. You give up crappy take out for dinner five nights out of seven, impromptu happy hours, spontaneous, last-minute vacations, holidays out of school term. A lot of us give up our identity, a career, money, high heel shoes, dreams.

But guess what? There’s still no freaking medal at the end.

Once you are a mother, you’ll be a mother until you shuffle off this mortal coil. It gets easier and then harder again, then presumably easier. It’s like head lice, you think you’re good but it keeps coming back. But it doesn’t end.

Do you know what’s at the end of motherhood? Death. Death is at the end of motherhood. And even then you’ll probably be dragged out in therapy sessions.

Motherhood is not the Olympics. You’re not going to come in first just because your Rice Krispie treats are made with homemade marshmallow. You’re not going to win the gold because your kid does three activities or because you made a conscious decision for them to do no activities and play around in the mud all day instead. You’re not going to get to stand on the podium in your Mom podium pants because you schlepped your kid around to play on three different teams or learn Latin. You’re not going to smash a mother record because you get by on the least amount of sleep or breast-fed your kid the longest. No matter what you squeeze into your day or what you don’t, what kind of cakes you bake or buy, you’re never going to get a medal.


There’s no silver for you because you puree kale in your mini food-processor and freeze it in little cubes. There’s no bronze for me because I try to write honestly about motherhood.

Motherhood isn’t a race. It’s not an endurance sport that requires training and multiple hydration stops (unless you’re talking wine). Sure, we all want to find our personal best, but that personal best shouldn’t be about how much we can fit in (or conversely, how little we can do), but finding a balance between raising children to be healthy, functioning adults and being healthy, functioning adults ourselves.

Trying to do too much, to be all things, to be the best at all things–maybe it might make you feel like you’re doing it all, but at the end?

Still no medal.

If you’re lucky you might get some flowers and brunch on the first Sunday in May.

You can bake the best cakes and throw the best parties and sew the best Halloween costumes. You can create Van Gogh inspired lunches or be the one who volunteers for every field trip, who sits in the front row for every assembly and concert. Or you can brag loudly about doing none of those things.

There’s still no medal.

The moms in Bad Moms were exaggerated examples (mostly), but they were recognizable enough to make me question why so many of us take a thing like motherhood, which is hard enough, and make it into something impossible?

Women are smart and talented and intelligent and creative and capable. Then we have kids and all of that multi-faceted-ness I love about women gets squeezed into the narrow channel of motherhood where it bulges like a hernia. Eventually it explodes into something resembling what we have now: Mothers going for the gold.

Being a good mom–or even a bad mom–doesn’t have to be the sole defining factor of your existence. It can be an important one, even the most important one if that’s what you choose, but don’t let anyone else make that choice for you. Because even though motherhood may feel like a competition at times, it’s not.

There are no podium pants. There are no podiums. No one’s going to raise a flag or sing an anthem or ask you for an interview or put you on a box of diapers as the face of Motherhood. No ticker tape parades or entries into Wikipedia. There are no trophies or consolation prizes.

There is no medal at the end of motherhood. The reward is kids who grow up to lead respectful lives, who contribute in some way to the betterment of society–even if that betterment is being a kind soul. That’s your reward. And it’s worth more than any medal.

Just don’t kill yourself trying to get there or you’ll never get to enjoy the result.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Sinead says:

    Oh sweet baby Jesus! Did I EVER need to hear this today! You will never know how much I needed to read this today. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Just doing my job, Ma’am. 🙂


  2. I remember thinking that my mom was a crazy person, but now I realize she was just dealing with four kids who were driving her nuts. As much as she wanted us to be perfect, there was no changing who we were. The American facade of happiness is probably one of the least healthy aspects of our culture. We all need to spend a year in the South Pacific learning to have no worries.
    I’m awarding you a gold medal for this post…for 60 DK and that medal you can get a cup of coffee.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      Oh, for 60 DK I could get at least a coffee and a wiennabrød! I find the older I get the less I sweat the small stuff. Mind you, the big stuff can be pretty sweat worthy, but at least it’s not the big AND the small. I do think it has a lot to do with women without an outlet for expression (creative, intellectual, conversational, etc). It can be pretty isolating to be a mother if you don’t have a ‘tribe’ and you are expected to find fulfillment in being a mother–which is great and all, but 99% of the time, it’s not enough. And just to make it worse, if you admit it’s not enough, you’re treated like a terrible person. Double bind for women. One of thousands really. I’m working on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. True dat. I`m going to start wearing a gold medal one of my kids got at a track meet as recognition for all the great things I do that only I recognize.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      There you go. Win/win 🙂


  4. go Mama O says:

    Love this – I haven’t seen Bad Moms, but I love the Gold Medal / Olympics analogy.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      It’s funny, and real, and painful in places. Go with women friends–they’ll get it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Elyse says:

    No medal? Shit. What have I been wasting my time doing this for, then?!


    1. Dina Honour says:

      WE do it for the glory of love, Elyse. No, wait. That was the Karate Kid…I don’t know why we do it some days! Others I look at them there and think, this is of course why we do it

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved this so much – so true. It’s not a competition, just gotta enjoy each day as it comes! ❤ Looking forward to following your page.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      Thanks! We are so hard on ourselves aren’t we? So, slight word of possible warning–for four years I’ve been toggling back and forth between parenting and relationships and expat stuff, but for the last six months or so….well, hyper-focused on politics particularly through a feminist lens. For the sake of my own sanity, I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to regain a balance of topic. Welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fantastic! Such a good reminder for all of us!


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