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Tattoos and Parenting

As if pregnancy and childbirth did not alter my body permanently enough, I decided months ago that I wanted to get a tattoo to honor Greyson and my transition into motherhood. Getting a tattoo is a lengthy process. It takes a long time to brainstorm a concept, do research, and sketch a few ideas. Then, you have to find the right artist. You meet with them for a consultation to talk about what you want so that your artist can start drawing up some ideas as well. It may take months before you can actually get in for your appointment, so there is a lot of time to anticipate what you are about to do, reconsider your design, even back out if you want to. Getting a tattoo is a little bit scary… It might hurt a little bit, but in the end, you know it’s worth the pain. More importantly, it’s terrifying because you want to be sure that you are making the right decision before you do it. It’s not like getting a bad haircut that you cry over, but can eventually fix and forget about. While you can get touch ups and sometimes cover ups, ultimately, some sort of ink is there for life.

While I thought about all of these things on the way to the tattoo shop, I began to realize that parenting is very much the same. Hopefully, you put a lot of thought into the decision to become a parent. You did your research, read the books, thought about what life might be like with a child. You chose a partner – when you decided to be together, you talked about having kids, how many you might want someday. You discussed what kind of parent you want to be and don’t want to be, for that matter. At some point, you finally had that consultation – you made the decision to start trying. During the pregnancy, you were terrified – were you really ready? Were you responsible enough? Were you financially prepared? You were scared that parenting might be painful at times, but that it’d be worth it in the end. Like waiting for your tattoo appointment, you have nine months to anticipate the baby. The only difference here is that there is no backing out. However, like getting a tattoo, deciding to parent is not like getting a bad haircut. Once you make the decision, that child is your responsibility for the rest of your life.

Even as I typed that, I had a small melt down. That is an intimidating thought. Someone told me once that even as your children become independent adults with their own families, you will always worry about them. I’m sure when I am 54, Greyson will be 27 – the same age that I am at this moment – and I am sure that I will still be just as overprotective/worried about him as I am now. And at 54, I will still be staring at this tattoo on my wrist, put there to honor and celebrate the happiness (and permanence) of motherhood.

 *On a side note, I know that not every person puts as much thought and consideration into getting a tattoo. Some people walk into a shop and pick one out of book and go for it. Other people get drunk and wake up with something ridiculous. Similarly, I know that not everyone puts as much consideration into having children. Sometimes you decide on a whim to do it and you go for it. Other people get drunk and wake up pregnant. In any situation, the moral of the story is the same – No matter how much time and thought you put into the decision to do it, tattoos and parenting are a lifelong commitment.