If you were a Girl Scout in the fifties or sixties, remember the badges we earned (or didn’t, depending on our proclivities)? Most of them focused on traditional stuff like homemaking, sewing and cooking.
Well, we’ve come a long way, baby. So it occurred to me that we should be awarded an entirely different set of badges based on our achievements in midlife. Here’s a sampling of the badges we could earn and the tasks we must complete to do so:
Handling Hot Flashes: Demonstrate creative use of everyday items as fans or other cool-down devices (Example: bags of frozen peas placed under the armpits). Sit through a business meeting while having a hot flash without losing your composure or peeling off any clothes.
Memory & Cognition: List 10 phone numbers and 10 passwords without looking them up. Go an entire week without wondering why you walked into a room. Remain in possession of your car keys and eyeglasses for three consecutive days.
Entertaining: Plan, cook and serve dinner for eight people, each with different dietary restrictions including gluten-free, fat-free, vegan, lactose-intolerant, low-sodium, nut allergy, acid reflux and shellfish allergy.
Weight Management: Automatically awarded if your body mass index falls within the healthy range for your age, weight and height. Bonus points if you can fit in your (first) wedding gown and/or comfortably wear slacks without an elastic waistband.
Social Skills: At your next cocktail party, go a minimum of 30 minutes without talking about health issues and remember the names of at least two people you’re introduced to.
Sleeping through the Night: Do whatever it takes to sleep for at least seven uninterrupted hours a night, at least five nights a week. Bonus points if you do so without medication.
Grooming: Remain vigilant for stray facial hairs, using a magnifying mirror daily to examine moustache area, chin and neck. If detected, pluck immediately. If entire moustache appears, bleach or wax regularly.
Online Dating: Be single. Post a picture of yourself that was taken within the past two years. Compose a profile that accurately reflects your current vital statistics and which doesn’t include the phrase “walks on the beach and romantic candlelight dinners.”
Medical Tests & Screenings: Undergo your first colonoscopy at age 50 and do not regale friends and family with details of your bowel cleanse. Undergo annual mammograms regardless of how busy you are. Know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers (but do not discuss them at cocktail parties).
Sexual Health: Have sex with your husband/partner on a regular basis (frequency to be mutually agreed upon). Bonus points if you really want to. Buy personal lubricant at the drug store without feeling embarrassed (bonus points if you can get your partner to do so).
Empty Nester: Allow yourself up to 90 days to emotionally adjust to having the kid(s) out of the house, if necessary. Find new uses for their bedroom(s) and remodel/redecorate accordingly. Do at least one thing you never dreamed of doing when your child(ren) lived at home.
Regularity: Consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber and adequate liquids daily. Move your bowels daily (and do not discuss their frequency or consistency at cocktail parties – or anywhere except your doctor’s office).
Physical Fitness: Undertake moderate intensity aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week, weight training 2 to 3 days a week, plus exercises for flexibility and balance. Nothing funny or clever here – just f***ing do it.
Grandparent: Feel justifiably proud to be a grandparent, but limit the number of photos you share with others to no more than 6 at one time. Please.
Cosmetic Surgery: If you choose to earn this badge (which you will, of course, not wear), your results elicit responses such as “You look so well-rested!” and not “You look so, um, wide awake!” Bonus points if you get carded the next time you buy alcohol.
There are easily hundreds of other badges we boomer women could earn (and I welcome your suggestions for what they might be!). And guys – former Boy Scouts – what about you? What merit badges do you think are appropriate for you at midlife?
While you’re thinking about it, here’s this week’s Boomer Haiku – which is a new take on the Girl Scout oath:
On my honor, I
will try to get through midlife
the best way I can.
P.S. A shout-out to high school classmate Joanne Lavoie Crepeau, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Maine, and marketing expert Kim Laramy, for an engaging Facebook conversation that inspired this blog post!