Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Six Pieces of Flesh Art Later...

Well, I am faced with a mothering dilemma that I am quite sure I never would have anticipated having, and that my own mother, I am sure, wishes that I didn't have. This dilemma has to do with the six little pieces of art that I have had seared into my flesh in various areas on my now saggy, stretch-marked mommy body.

Yes, I have SIX, count 'em SIX, tattoos.

It all started when I was 15, really stupid and had a friend with a Bic pen and some India ink. Yeah, really gross. really irresponsible. Again, I was 15. And stupid. Did I mention that I was stupid? Not book stupid, but life stupid. I thought I was really cool and different, and all "Damn the man" (even though I got straight A's and had never been grounded in my life). But the tattoo matched my purple hair and my belly button and nose rings (to be followed by nipple and tongue rings and at one point, a haircut so short I almost put Sinead to shame) and it was just the natural progression of my alternative, against the grain "look." So I said "yeah, do it man!" swigged a contraband beer and clutched my friend's hand as this kid scratched a hasty half moon into my left big toe.

It now looks like my daughter scribbled blue magic marker on my toe. Attractive, huh?

I got my first legit tattoo at 17, when I "borrowed" my friend's ID, went down to Providence and had a little Japanese symbol done on my lower back. Cute, huh? Yeah, well, I didn't even check to make sure that it actually meant "virtue and goodness" (again, still stupid two years later), so he could have branded me with a symbol that meant "angry lesbian" for all I knew. Thankfully, I had one of those compassionate and ethical tattoo artists and it does actually mean what I was told. Phew.

Next to follow was a larger than life fairy and Tiger Lily flower on my left shoulder blade, which is, in my opinion, absolutely gorgeous. But LARGE. I mean, big. This thing takes up my whole shoulderblade, so there is no hiding this sucker. Which wasn't a problem back in my mysterious tattooed girl phase, but poses a bigger problem now in my mysterious tattooed mommy phase.

The last three tattoos went something like this:

Got bored, got a generic butterfly on my stomach (yes, this one looks mighty attractive now).

Got bored, got a Celtic knot on my ankle (totally boring and pointless).

Got bored, got a tribal sun on my lower back (the good thing about this one is that I didn't pay for it).

So here I sit. Mysterious tattooed mommy. Much older, not as stupid, and responsible for attending various parental obligations that now result in feeling more than a little self-conscious about all the other mommies and daddies that are ogling my tatts. I now have normal colored hair and no piercings (I don't even wear earrings, can't be bothered), but the evidence of my rebellion forever marks me like a big scarlett letter.

Now let me clarify. I did, and still do, love my tattoos. There is just something about them now that feels like they don't "fit" me anymore. I see plenty of moms with tattoos and think they look perfectly fine. I don't judge or think less of them as parents. But for me, for some reason, I feel like I have outgrown them. They were me 10 years ago, and now they hang around like that boyfriend that just can't take the hint that you have grown apart. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as an awkward phone call to get rid of these trespassers.

So the $20,000 question is this: Do I have them removed and put behind me those wild, fanciful years of self mutilation? Or do I live with the decisions I made back when I was young and stupid? (Right now my mother is sitting in her office chair saying "I told you so.) But the thing is, I don't regret getting them, and if I had a chance to go back, I would get them again. They were part of my life that was exciting and adventurous and that opened up a world of breaking out of the mold and finding my originality. I know I will not look at them as a mistake. But do I do what it takes to adjust now to my decisions from back then?

As for anyone that thinks I sould have them removed, can you loan me a few thousand dollars?

Thanks. I knew I could count on you.