I imagine that, once you get to know me, I’m probably a confusing person to figure out. What you see isn’t necessarily what you get. Initial judgments have often been off-base, which my friends love to tell me about after they have gotten comfortable with me.
For example, I was a debutante and president of my sorority. I am also the president of a company. From the initial outset, if I’m wearing sleeves, you might think that I’m an straight-laced, serious person.
But you would be wrong. I also have 5 tattoos and counting.
For many people, these things don’t tend to go together so they have a hard time figuring me out. “How do you have tattoos? You aren’t rebellious – you are riddled with anxiety!” Ha – this is true. But my tattoos aren’t about me rebelling (well, maybe the first one). My tattoos help me identify who I am – they make me more comfortable.
I find that I get judging looks from older moms looking at my tattoos at a school function and I’ll admit they have given me pause when I’m going to the school for a meeting. Should I wear a jacket? Long sleeves? I want to be taken seriously and I don’t want the fact that I have tattoos to eclipse the person that I am.
And I guess that might be the point. My tattoos are who I am.
I have a small Deathly Hallows tattoo on my left wrist. On more occasions than I can count, strangers have commented on it. They know instantly what I am about. And my job and persona don’t really jive with that. When I came into my company, I met with two of my employees. Later down the road, one told me that he was instantly comfortable when he saw that tattoo because he understood what it meant.
The important thing to note, however, is that my tattoos do not affect the way that I parent. The large, masculine anchor I have tattooed on my right forearm doesn’t foretell a series of bad mistakes and misjudgments. Nope – those are earmarked by things you cannot see. Like the many Jaeger Bombs I drank in college.
I often get asked, “What do you say to your kids? How you do you explain it to them?”
That answer is easy. I don’t.
Because they don’t ask. For them, Mom and Dad have always had tattoos. They have traced their tiny fingers along our arms, weaving around the patterns of the ink – but that’s about as far as they go with it. They don’t ask why they are there. They don’t ask where they came from. They just are as they have always been.
“But how will you handle it if your kids want tattoos?”
Obviously, I would be ok with it – however, I would be sure to express to them that this is FOREVER and sometimes the decisions you make when you are younger won’t represent who you become. Their father has a great story regarding this with his first tattoo, resulting in a costly cover-up. I feel like we are pretty covered there.
“But they will look bad when you are older”
Ok. That’s cool. I can’t imagine I’m going to be a spring chicken when I’m getting up in age. I have plans for at least three other tattoos that I am marinating on. I tend to sit with an idea before I decide if it represents who I am and if I’m willing to have it emblazoned on my body for life. I don’t have regrets. Each of my tattoos perfectly represents me and a particular time in my life. My tattoos are a roadmap of who I am and where I’ve been.