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A Mom With Tattoos

These days it is nothing strange to see parents walking around with their little ones, arms covered in body art. This post was written in 2014, you know – before tattoos were cool. I am just kidding, but seriously… a lot has changed in 5-years. Back then, we could not leave our house with our kids without being openly stared at, whispered about and getting attitude at certain establishments.

Tattooing has been around for thousands of years. It is one of the oldest forms of art, laden with as many different meanings as there are global cultures.

Being A Mom With Tattoos - It Does Not Make Me A Bad Parent

My husband and I are both quite heavily tattooed, yet by some miracle we both have careers and live in quite an afluent suburb in Cape Town. We earn decent incomes, we pay our rent on time every month, we each have our own cars, our child goes to private school, neither of us has ever been to prison, we don’t do drugs, we support charities, we love animals and we do not beat or abduct little children.

I feel like I should have this disclaimer printed, keep it in my handbag to had out to random people who seem to thing we are the scum of the earth – purely because of our physical appearance. It’s all fun and games when you are young and carefree – society is more likely to accept your tattoos and move on with their lives, but I have found that the rules change a little when you become parents.  

I grew up in a very small town called Upington, situated in the Northern Cape between nothing and nowhere. My family is open-minded yet somewhat conservative and I knew hardly anyone with a tattoo. I was always different. I liked bright coloured hair, I listened to all genres of music you can think of, I loved rock n roll, Cypress Hill was my heart music and Korn helped me go to sleep at night. I was fascinated by the extreme sports culture, I was intrigued by Goths, I wanted to marry a surfer and I couldn’t wait to move to the big city.

When I was 17 we had the annual Upington Expo, I had just broken up with the biggest loser of a boyfriend and lost a lot of weight – I was so proud of myself and on a total adrenaline high. Walking through the stalls I came across this backyard tattoo artist from Cape Town. I got my 21-year old friend to pretend she was my mom and sign a permission slip, and I got my first tattoo off a flash sheet in a truck container…and it looks like shit, but I love it. I was hooked.   I collected a number of tattoos over the years, and I love every single one of them. I will probably carry on getting them until I run out of space.

Being A Mom With Tattoos - It Does Not Make Me A Bad Parent Shaun Dean Cape Town Hand Tattoo Finger Tattoos

My career never suffered because of my tattoos, people stared, asked questions, but no-one was ever rude. For the most part my choices were respected and people were more interested in my ability to do my job than anything else.

I will never forget the first day that my appearance attracted a negative comment- accompanied by a snarl and a look of utter disgust. I was a couple of months pregnant with my first child and you could just start to see my baby bump.

I was sitting in the waiting room at my gynaecologists’ office when the woman opposite me said to her husband “Why can someone like her have kids and I can’t, it’s not fair – her child has no chance in life.” I knew she was saying it out of hurt and anger of her own personal situation, but it cut like a knife. This woman didn’t know me, how could you possibly judge someone like that? She did not care in the slightest that I could hear her, or how her remark would make me feel.

My first pregnancy was very difficult and we had a lot of complications, we went from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist, gynea to gynea, the first thing each and every one of them would ask was “will you be keeping the baby?” or “are you happy about the pregnancy?” I am not sure if this is something they have to ask, but I took it very personally and it offended me every single time.

I eventually got fed up with all of them and decided to give my doctor back in Upington a call. We drove 830km’s to have my baby delivered by my family GP – someone I trusted with my life and who knew me and the kind of person I was. I was booked into Upington Medi-Clinic and couldn’t help but burst out laughing when the nurse asked me whether I would like to see a priest. It wasn’t at all directed at my tattoos/age/etc., that’s just what they do in a small town. I politely declined and was taken to my room. This was the best decision I could have made. The nurses were angels, my doctor was still my hero and everyone just wanted to help and make everything as easy as possible for us. Funny how in a small, conservative town you end up receiving the least amount of judgement and the most amount of love.

Being A Mom With Tattoos - It Does Not Make Me A Bad Parent Mikayla's birth

After her birth things kind of went back to normal. I got a couple of more stares than usual, but I think that is just because I had the most gorgeous child in the world! I mean seriously, look at that face.

Being A Mom With Tattoos - It Does Not Make Me A Bad Parent

Little did I know what we were in for when she started school. We placed her in a private little daycare in meadowridge that came highly recommended. I honestly never knew that people could be so horrible. None of the other parents would talk to us or greet us, we were judged for our non-religious beliefs, I was looked at like a cat dragged me out of a trash can.

Unfortunately, my daughter got the worst of it. She was treated unfairly because of our lifestyle choices. I know every mother thinks her child is perfect and doesn’t want to hear anything bad about them –  but she was made out to be a mean-spirited bully when nothing could be further from the truth. Apparently she would walk up to kids and kick/hit them for no reason at all. We received daily phonecalls about her misdemeanors and were told this must be something she is learning at home *insert judgemental, accusatory tone*. We were honestly never exposed to this alledged behaviour at home and we were absolutely baffled.

They however neglected to phone us when Mikayla came home with a gash on her cheek from being hit with a spade by a boy during break-time. When asked about it the response was “Oh, he was just playing”. 

We decided to move Mikayla to a different school – one that seemed to be a bit more open-minded as they were non-denominational in terms of religious beliefs. I guess people are less inclined to judge you or care about your appearance when you are paying a small fortune in school fees. All of a sudden all Mikayla’s “behavioural problems” disappeared, the feedback was that Mikayla was a very calm, friendly child with a beautiful nature who loved making friends and painting.

I often get asked about how I think my tattoos will affect my daughter – I always wonder that myself. I hope they do. I hope they teach her to be accepting of different kinds of people and to never base her opinion on someone’s looks alone. If more kids had that lesson growing up – we’d have a lot less adults who are quick to judge solely based on appearance and stereotypes.

Next time you see someone who is a little different than you, strike up a conversation – they might just surprise you.

Being A Mom With Tattoos - It Does Not Make Me A Bad Parent Kid Temporary Tattoo

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8 thoughts on “A Mom With Tattoos

  1. cathgrenfell says:

    Loved this article. I’m also a mom with tattoos and I occasionally notice people looking and judging, but luckily I honestly couldn’t give a shit about what people think. My best is when my daughter plasters herself with fake tattoos, and we walk around like life is totally normal – which it is. My eldest son (13) recently befriended a boy who is Mormon. The mom and I chat at school arrange sleepovers, lifts etc, but I knew the elephant in the room would eventually surface. She asked me about the tattoos the other day, while informing me that it is a definite no-no in their church. I spoke with confidence and told her the meanings and stories behind them and at least now the elephant has left the room. The nice thing is as your children get older, most of the kids think you’re the coolest mom on the planet. But the best is, as you said, it teaches your children to accept everyone and I never need to tell my kids to stop starting at someone with tattoos.

    • caffeineandfairydust says:

      Thank you Cath, so glad you enjoyed the article! I admire people like that little boy’s mom, who comes from strong religious backgrounds and are still able to put their judgement aside and look past the tattoos. It can’t be very easy. My mother-in-law is a Jehovah’s witness, and even though she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t treat us with any less love or respect. I hope your kids grow up strong and confident like you ♥

      Thank you for the comment!

  2. adaftscotslass says:

    I am a mum with tattoos and thoroughly enjoyed your blog post. I find it sad that we get pre-judged for our love of body art…

    When my youngest started at a new private school, I used to always cover up my tattoos in the beginning because I didn’t want them to judge my child because of my ink. Eventually I reconsidered always covering up when I went to drop and fetch her. This is me. My friends, my family, my children, my husband accept me for who I am and why shouldn’t they?

    I still get a few comments and stares, especially now that I’ve coloured my hair Fire Red and Electric Blue, but if they don’t like me – look the other way.

    Now I never cover them up on purpose. I wear my ink proudly and can’t wait to have more work done.

    • caffeineandfairydust says:

      Good for you chica! Thank you for reading my blog post xxx I personally believe we do our kids more harm by trying to hide who we are. The only way to raise confident, open-minded kiddies is to lead by example. ♥♥♥

  3. Cupcake says:

    I’m a tattooed mama and I actually work for a tattoo studio. I’ve never noticed stares but then again I’m awkward in social situations. My son adores my tattoos and has even had a hand at inking one of them (kinda) right now he wants a sleeve and he always points out “his” tattoos on me (I have his handprints and a compass rose with his birth coordinates among many others) whether or not that will change no one knows but the big thing is that like M he’s growing up around difference and therefore is less likely to be as judgemental (in my opinion). I don’t know. That’s just me. I might borrow this topic for the blog if you dont mind. It’s a goody.

    • caffeineandfairydust says:

      Your tattoos sound lovely! I’m also quite awkward in social situations – I suffer from severe anxiety when in large groups of people and literally have to fake my brain through it (I don’t know if that makes sense). Which tattoo studio do you work at? And of course I don’t mind – it’s an open topic, not like I am the only mom with tattoos in the world

  4. Megs Hartwig says:

    I am a mom with tattoo’s and in general, I have not experienced any negativity from the general public. But now and again I do get stared at and get asked stupid questions like “Why did you get that tattoo?” People judge all the time. That is reality. That’s why it’s called judgement. You could be the best person to walk the face of the earth and people see tattoos and they think there must be something mentally wrong with that person that they would do that to themselves.

  5. Gaelyn says:

    I’m not a mom with tattoos, I don’t think I’d ever get a tattoo, and just don’t see the appeal of it. I can’t understand why people would do it, just like I can’t understand why people run the comrades marathon or never travel or live in a polygamous marriage! It’s not for me to understand but to accept, and that I do. If I see someone with interesting tattoos, I’m always curious about them – why did you get that one, why did you choose to put it there, what’s the meaning behind it? So far only one person has told me I’m being rude! I think that by learning more about people’s choices around tattoos, I’ll maybe understand the whole thing a bit better one day.

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