Welcome back to another installment in our new series – I’m A Mom With Tattoos. In case you have missed the last couple, don’t forget to check them out here.
In case you’d forgotten, let me the bearer of wonderful news… You’re about to head into a LONG WEEKEND! That’s right, Monday is a holiday! Yippee! Now we all have to pray that my kids actually stay healthy for the whole thing so that we can get out and enjoy it.
Can I just say that I totally loved this interview. Not everyone totally adores the ink that they’ve had done and I think it’s important to hear these kinds of stories too! Thank you Michelle for being so honest with us and sharing your story! And because it’s almost long weekend time, you have my permission to start the party now, so forget the coffee, go right ahead and pop the bubbly. Not that you need my permission.
Your name and blog deets: Michelle Edwards. I blog in a slapdash way at It’s Just A Little Thing.
Your age: 30
Your Occupation: Writer and sub-editor at a magazine publishing company
Tell us about your family: My husband and I have a two-year-old daughter called Ava. I am continually surprised by her, and have been since the day she was born – from the reddish hair she’s had since day one, to her totally chilled, gentle nature, to her robust healthiness, to her eagerness to please … I was expecting a dark-haired, fretful baby, and instead I got this little strawberry-blonde ray of sunshine. She’s so much like her Dad – she’s got a wild, outlandish sense of humour and an enormous appetite and a really sunny outlook on life. I went back to work fulltime when she was three and a half months old, so all the time I get with her is real “quality” time. I make an effort to be totally present and “current” with her whenever we’re together. Because my husband also has a demanding job, we’ve had to go with the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child – three of Ava’s four grandparents live nearby and they’re very involved, and she and her nanny are BFFs, so she’s surrounded by love and we’ve got a great support structure. We’re really lucky.
If you work, tell us a bit more about your working environment – are you regularly in contact with new “clients/public”. As a sub, I don’t really see people other than the ones I work with. I’m not in a client-facing role.
• Tell us a bit about your tattoo’s, what they are, why you have them, where they are located
I got my first tattoo on my last day of Matric. My friends and I were in boarding school, but on the day of our last exam, we got a sort-of free pass to leave the school for the afternoon. One of the girls had designed a tattoo she wanted to get, so five of us went off with her to a tattoo parlour/body-piercing place above a strip club. Not exactly an auspicious start. I had just planned on going as a spectator, but then all the other girls decided to get tattoos as well, so I caved to peer pressure and ended up with a tiny strawberry on my left boob – just underneath the bra-line. (It had to be somewhere my mother would never see it.) I would have got something bigger, probably, if I’d had more money on me. The artist said, “What do you want?”, and I said, “Whatever I can get for R60”, and that’s how it happened. I’ve done plenty of dumb things in my life, but this has to top them all because the results will literally be with me forever. I’d love to get it removed, but there always seem to be better things to spend my money on. Sometimes I think that, if getting a tattoo that no one else would ever really see is a bizarre act of vanity, then spending loads of money to get it removed is just as bad, if not worse. But then I get all panicky, thinking that Ava will probably go to school one day and tell her teacher “my mommy has a strawberry on her boob!”. I do have to laugh, though – 11 years before I knew that one day I’d have (and breastfeed) a strawberry-blonde daughter, I got a tattoo of a strawberry on my boob. Life is a bit weird sometimes.
The other tattoo was a lot more considered. My two best pals and I were hostel buddies and went to university together, and decided to get inked to mark our friendship (when I was 20). We went with a Celtic trinity knot design because there were three of us, and we all had Irish/Scottish heritage. It’s also pretty small, though on this one, I spent more than 60 bucks and five seconds of planning time. I got mine done on my right bum cheek, just below the bikini line.
How old were you when you got your first tattoo? My first tattoo is now 13 years old. (Well, I got it when I was 17.)
Which tattoo is your favourite and why? I like the trinity knot a lot more than the strawberry. But maybe the fact that it’s not visible to me has something to do with that – though I’d like to think it’s because it’s more meaningful and reminds me of the girls who are still like sisters to me, even though we now live really far apart.
Do you plan on getting more? Nope. Not unless something drastic happens. If I lost someone close to me, I might get something really inconspicuous – like a tiny star underneath one of my toes, or something.
How do your family and friends feel about your tattoo(s)? The only people in my family who know I have them are my husband and Ava. My husband is not a fan of tattoos at all – he’s quite clean-cut like that – but I’ve had mine since before we got together, so there’s not much he can say about them. I think for him, they’re as much a part of me as my freckles (though he doesn’t like them as much). I think if my parents, particularly my mom, knew about my tatttoos, she’d be devastated. I’m not nearly as conservative as she is, but I think that now I understand how she’d feel if she knew. If Ava got something permanently inked on her perfect body, I’d feel betrayed somehow, no matter how old she was. I can’t believe I feel this way – there’s no rational reason for it. That’s the thing about motherhood – it keeps taking you by surprise.
What is the general reaction that “the Public” have towards your tattoo’s? Have you run into any negativity or adversity because of them? When people find out I have tattoos, they’re often shocked, probably because they’re so well-hidden, and maybe because I don’t seem the type. Not many people have actually seen them, but those who have have said things like “haha, when you’re old, your strawberry’s going to look like a chilli!”, and “why do you have a Star of David on your bum?”. No adversity or negativity, just people saying silly things, because that’s what people do.
Any advice for those interested in getting tattooed? My strawberry tattoo is the ultimate cautionary tale. If you get a tattoo when you’re too young (say, 17), chances are, you’ll grow out of it – metaphorically speaking. Which is a bit crap, because in the literal sense, your tattoo will be with you forever. And don’t ever get one on a whim. I’d say, plan to get one in a year’s time, and then wait to see how you feel about it then. And if you’re going to get one, don’t even think about the pain. Compared to recovering from a C-section (I would say compared to childbirth, but I never went into labour) and the first week of breastfeeding, getting a tattoo, in my experience, is nothing.