Just to recap – I have tattoos AND I have kids. Not exactly earth-shattering stuff, I know and yet…these are two “possessions” (for lack of a better word) that lead to more assumptions and judgement than just about anything else I can imagine.
Eons ago when I was young and dinosaurs still roamed the earth (my son actually asked me if dinosaurs were still alive when I was a kid – I’ll blame it on his youth and not my baggy under-eye morning look) I had neither tattoos nor children and existed in a blissful bubble free of judgement – except of course my parents, friends and mine own judgement. Shit. Let me re-phrase; before kids and tattoos I was merely judged by those who knew me well enough to point out where I was coming up short. Then I had children and entered what can only be described as the Thunderdome of Judgement
Here in the Thunderdome it is mom eat mom – be superior in every way or die the horrible death of, “my child is better than your child”. Now of course all moms aren’t so bitchy and many mommy groups can be safe and sensitive zones of mutual acceptance and tolerance – not to mention all the lovely children you get to meet but usually I found myself feeling a little (ahem) overwhelmed by the correctness of everyone’s parenting choices over mine and their willingness to share their opinions.
I have a sarcastic streak that runs as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon and when I find myself in social situations where hiding is not an option I tend to go to my dark (and hopefully) funny side. I learned early on who were the moms I would click with when I would bust out my goldfish crackers and small children would run towards my rumpled bag – hands outstretched and faces turned to me filled with longing. Some mothers would snatch their children away, grimacing at my “unapproved” snack and loudly telling their child that they loved them too much to feed them such terrible food.
Then there would be a mom, maybe two, who would say to their kid – yeah go ahead but save room for your Lunchable and Capri-Sun. They would tend to by my people. Not because feeding your kids crappy food was cool (although lord knows sometimes it is just easy) but because they were not “judgey”.
I could look at them, roll my eyes and say “Wow, there’s not going to be any drinking at this thing is there?” and they would understand I Was Joking (mostly). I don’t understand why moms can be so hard on one another. Being a parent is challenging enough – do we have to compare and evaluate everyone else’s child to our own?
My son never crawled – he did that weird scootchy thing on his butt that some babies do and he did it til he was over a year old. I checked with my pediatrician and he pointed out that there is a bell curve to represent “normal” and that someone had to be at the low-end of that curve. He also said he never saw a kid crawl or scootch in highschool. Loved that pediatrician. So sane. But whenever I had my son at the playground there would inevitably the “well-meaning” mom who would sidle over, observe my son’s gleeful scootching and politely inquire, “How old is he?”. This translates in judgey mom-speak to, “That baby is way to old too not walk – what have you been doing wrong? Is he eating goldfish crackers?” My chasm of sarcasm would yawn open and I would say something like, “Oh he is almost 2 but he is super delayed cause I smoked soo much crack when I was pregnant. I honestly can’t believe he has limbs at all so I consider it a big success that he can even do that scuttle thing he does.” Then I would look at them with a big smile on my face like, “What?” Needless to say there would be no play dates.
And this was before I had the tattoos. So does having tattoos mean you are a bad mother. No, of course not – that is just silly. It’s so silly it doesn’t even warrant a whole post about it but my husband is home with the flu and he is throwing my game off by constantly requiring fluids and attention. But seriously – people and other moms CAN be very judgemental and now that my tattoos are so obvious I am experiencing a subtle new round of “hyper-awareness”. Mostly it is me – I’M not used to having so much ink and I am working on “owning” it and not caring if I am being watched or judged. Besides, what other people think about me is none of my business anyways (Thank you for that pearl of wisdom Julie R.)
So how do my kids feel about it? Well, neither one wants a tattoo for starters. Is it the classic “reject what ever your parents like” or an appreciation for the pain, healing and permanence of tattoos- I don’t know. Do they feel embarrassed to be seen with me? No. They just accept it as part of me. I haven’t changed – just my arms. So maybe this helps my kids to be more accepting and less judgemental? At least they learn a little something about not judging a book by its cover. Tattoos don’t equal trashy. There are so many women who have kids and ink and do a great job. And sadly there are moms who have no ink and no mothering skills whatsoever. Tattoos don’t change who you are as a parent – just how you look.
and if you want to judge me and my parenting skills then don’t base it on my appearance. Get to know me first and I’m sure you will find plenty of shit worth pointing a finger at – I am far from the perfect mom(just ask my kids – they’ll tell you) but I am a mom who is doing her best and flat-out loves her kids with everything she’s got – even with the GMO gluten-loaded goldfish crackers AND my big-ass tattoos. So women…mothers …PLEASE
(the two memes are done by the incredibly funny @mamamiaaus – check it out on Instagram)