I am a mother of two young boys and last week, not impulsively, I marched into a custom tattoo parlor and “got inked”. And I’m not the only inked up mama. I am known by friends (amongst other things) as the mom who is always late (I think I even missed a birthday party once) but somehow I was ringing the doorbell of the tattoo parlor five minutes before my scheduled appointment. As I ascended the stairs the buzzing sound made me keenly aware that I wasn’t wearing deodorant. As I reached the top of the long staircase, the artist whom I had met with three weeks prior appeared with a wheelie chair and said “want to go for a ride”? Naturally, I hopped on and so commenced the journey of “Mama Getting Inked”.
The journey actually began years ago, most likely when I got my first (albeit illegal) tattoo in the apartment of some sketchy place on the outskirts of Burlington, VT. But that was after a bong hit and I was accompanied by a couple of like minded friends. This time was dramatically different. It was an idea I had been cultivating for years (rather than hours), I was alone (rather than giggling with a bunch of girlfriends), I had met and consulted with the artist a few weeks prior (opposed to meeting the unlicensed artist minutes prior to pulling my pants down for him to tattoo my bikini line), and I was clear minded (well, relatively). And this time I had experienced natural child birth so I wasn’t too concerned about the pain.
After seeing the sketch of the lotus flower soon to be etched into my skin forever, Heath Rave (real name) taped the trace paper to my wrist so I could preview it in the mirror. I had no adjustments, I loved it. And so the cleaning and preparing process began. After signing a bunch of paperwork (that I pretended to read), my skin was cleaned, shaved, cleaned again and then blotted dry. I wasn’t aware I had hair on my wrist. The image was traced onto the area, slightly larger than I had originally planned. Maybe a fleeting doubt but then the notion that if I was doing this I was not going to regret that it was too small. “Go Big or Stay Home”, a mantra of my mother’s rang in my head. She who had four good sized weddings. God love her. A little too big, I could live with. At this point too small wasn’t an option.
Sitting to my left was a young women getting a simple heart tattooed on her wrist with her moral support sitting next to her . I thought going alone would be a more interesting process. To my right was a man with two sleeves of tattoos getting what looked like a cover up done. When the artist to my left finished tattooing the girl (less than a two minute tattoo) he came over to check out mine which Heath hadn’t started yet. The guy thought the lotus flower was cool and that it would be great to build off of too (was this an upsell?), maybe some Hindu Gods weaving in and out of it. I giggled to myself and played along, suggesting maybe Ganesha – Ganesha is the Hindu God known for removing obstacles. Yoga teachers know these things. I was really having fun now, feeling a lot cooler than the twit next to me who got a heart on her wrist. Sitting there thinking what a badass I am, Heath says “ready”? and begins to tattoo the outline. All I could think was wow, I can’t remember the last time I experienced toe curling pain. During labor I wouldn’t have been able to tell you where my toes were since I felt like one big contracting uterus. This was pretty painful stuff but it didn’t take over the entire body like labor.
It was weird to be sitting there, quietly observing my reaction to the pain and having a laugh with Heath and the other guys while he worked on me. In the beginning, thoughts raced through my head including why people become addicted to this. The endorphins kick in and there is almost a sense of calm that takes over. The ability to stay with my breath really helped with the pain. Every couple of strokes, he wipes the residual ink and blood away. The worst part part was when he had to go over the same place twice to darken it. He took a break between the outline and the shading. This was not for my benefit, he just had to feed his meter. There were a couple of moments of comedy. At one point he stopped and turned around to sneeze. A huge snot hung from his nose and like a true mother, I reached for my bag to hand him a tissue. We had a laugh about that and the fact that we were both Leos with dogs named Charlie. Was it possible that a Volvo driving Yoga Teacher and Mom could find commonality with a tattoo artist (and heavy metal musician) named Heath? Absolutely! It was awesome.
As Heath finished up I was given the “care sheet”. Before he wrapped up my goopy arm, he took a picture with my phone so I could share with people before it was time to remove the bandage. We had another laugh – the dichotomy that I was headed to pick my kid up at school before going to a private fashion event where there was going to be a doctor answering any questions people had about Botox injections. Naive me didn’t realize it was a Botox party. And even though the party was a blast and I wasn’t the only mama with ink there, I wasn’t interested in the other type of needle. For now, anyway, but never say never I guess. Not sure how well Mom’s mantra would work out in the Botox scene.
Now I’m reveling in the adoration of my new body art. It kind of feels like the day that I got engaged and I couldn’t stop looking at the sparkle. That was forever and this is too. The boys are kind of unaffected. The toddler can say tattoo and the big one wonders if he’ll get tired of seeing it. Perhaps but I love being a Bad Ass Botox free mama!