A few years ago, I got my first tattoo. It was a birthday gift to myself. I cannot remember a time in my adult life when I didn’t want a tattoo. I loved everything about them. Or, I should say, I loved everything about the ones that were done well. The beauty. The color. The artistic expression. The way you learn something about a person by what they choose to have inked on their body. The way you can peek into someone’s heart as they memorialize people and things important to them.
I never desired to ink my body when I was a teenager or young adult. It was only as I grew older and became intrigued by the beautiful artwork I saw on people’s soft frames that I started imagining one for myself. Only when I saw people using their body as a canvas to honor loved ones or ideas they revered, did I start to consider getting a tattoo.
I waited for years, until I had thought long and hard about what I wanted to look at forever on my pink toned flesh. I put off getting a tattoo until I knew in my heart it was right.
I really started coveting tattoos in my 30s. This is when the obsession began to take root. However, I had two little babies in tow as I crossed the threshold into 30 and I just didn’t feel it was right, for them. I worried about what they would say as they got older. I worried about how it would impact them. This was just me. I have no judgment about young moms who are tatted up. In fact, I applaud them. They are not letting worry get the best of them as I did. (Click here to read more about moms with tattoos.)
I was also worried about what my parents would say. I worried they would be disappointed. I worried what judgment people would make about me. It was these worries that kept me out of tattoo parlors in my 30s.
However, a funny thing happens when you enter your 40s. You really just don’t give a f**k what people think anymore. I didn’t care anymore about what my friends and family would say if I got a tattoo. It became about what I would say.
With that being said, there were two people’s reaction that I did care about. I cared about the reaction of my kids. I was concerned about what they would say. What they would think. How they would feel. They were teenagers now and could give their opinion on their mom sporting a tat. Luckily, they gave their blessing. Especially when I told them what I planned to get.
I decided to get my mother’s writing inked on my skin. There was a card I saved that she had written to me when I graduated from grad school; a time when our lives didn’t intersect much because we lived miles apart.
It said, “I wish our days together were more often. Love you, Mom”
This is a sentiment I still relish everyday.
I wish our days together were more often . . .
My mother died when she was 51, just a few short years after she wrote that card. I knew when I rediscovered the card while going through old things, this is what I would permanently etch on my body. Her words. Her writing. Her love. I knew this was something I wanted as part of me forever and I didn’t care what anyone thought.
My husband, not being a tattoo guy, wasn’t thrilled but he gave his blessing knowing how much it meant to me.
I researched tattoo artists and finally got my first tattoo at 44. I actually got two tattoos that day. One on my hip, hidden away. It is the full sentence she wrote on that card, accompanied by a dragonfly. A creature that lives a short life and makes the most of every moment. A fitting symbol and reminder.
My second tattoo I got that day was on my wrist. It simply said her words, “Love You.” Her writing on my wrist as a daily reminder.
Then, last October, it was time for another one. I got my third tattoo on my ankle.
My mother died from breast cancer. My mother in law and two sisters in law also had breast cancer. Since breast cancer has a genetic component, I became concerned for the health of my daughter. So, I got a tattoo for breast cancer awareness month. To honor my mother’s struggle and as a symbol of hope for my daughter.
My third tattoo became a tribute to the connection between my mother and my daughter. Two of my deepest loves that never had a chance to meet.
I decided to get two pink lotus flowers, a large one for my mother and a small one for my daughter. The color pink representing breast cancer. The lotus, one of my favorite flowers, to symbolize beauty, spirituality, and the ability to rise above the murky depths into wholeness.
Surrounding the flowers is water, waves in my eyes, that represent my love surrounding them both; me being the common link between the two.
It’s a daily reminder of my mother and my daughter. They are with me always.
I have no regrets about my tattoos. None.
Besides being reminders of people I love, there are benefits that have come from getting tattoos in my 40s.
- It has actually set a good example for my kids. It showed them how to make a thoughtful decision about something that will last forever. I feel like I modeled a responsible way to get a tattoo.
- My tattoos encourage my kids to embrace individuality and to feel comfortable being themselves. I knew people were going to have a hard time with it. I knew people, friends and family, were going to have an opinion about it. But, I also knew I had to follow my heart. I had to be true to myself. And I always want my kids to feel confident in following their heart.
- Getting my tattoos has been empowering. It is the ultimate way to express ownership of and pride in my body.
- My tattoos are a way for me to delineate and honor what is meaningful.
In 2015, tattoos are very common. In fact it’s almost strange to see someone under 30 with no ink. But, even though it is considered more “normal,” there is still judgment attached. Some people still think if you have tattoos, you are unconventional. That somehow, because you made a choice to put permanent artwork on your body, you are less than.
Well guess what? I am still a good person, friend, and daughter; still an awesome mother and wife; and still a person that is kind and works hard, who is afraid of guns, and doesn’t like to play pool.
I am a woman who isn’t timid about expressing herself. A woman who would love if you embraced her, tattoos and all, but won’t lose any sleep if you don’t. A woman who is strong as well as soft. A woman who celebrates uniqueness and stepping out of the box. A woman who loves deeply.
Nothing is different.
My tattoos didn’t change who I am. My tattoos simply reveal who I am.
Salty Inked Kisses,
For more on tattoos, check out The Tattoo Tourist asking if you can be too young or too old for tattoos? What is a good age to get inked? What do ya think??