When Sara R.'s eldest son Tyler was born eight years ago, the mom from Virginia decided to get a tattoo of a nautical star in his honor. Life got busy and she never quite got around to it. Nor did she get around to it two years later when she had her daughter Serena or 21 months after that when her son Brody was born. But when Brody passed away at just 5 months old, she knew she what she wanted to do.
"While he [Brody] was in the PICU, I made everyone there (hubby, my mom and myself) agree to go get tattoos. After a week in the PICU he passed away, and the day of his funeral we all went and got a tattoo for him," Sara remembers. Two months later she got a got nautical stars for Tyler and Serena.
I read a post the other day noting that the latest trend among celebrity parents is to get tattoos to honor their children. Angelina Jolie has her kids' birthplaces tattooed on her arm, Julia Roberts has her kids' names tattooed on her back, and Victoria Beckham has five stars tattooed on her back — one for her, one for husband David Beckham, and one for each of their three sons, Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz.
But as I read this post, I realized that this "celebrity trend" is not really a trend at all. And it has nothing to do with being a celebrity. Tattoos are the mark of parenthood for my generation. They are badges of honor. Once considered "taboo," tattoos are now seen as a form of body art that can be used for healing, self-expression, and remembrance, making them the perfect medium for today's parents who wish to immortalize their children.
To confirm my suspicions about tattoos and parenthood, I did a not-so-scientific poll on Facebook to find out how many friends, colleagues, and followers had or wished they had tattoos in honor of their kids. The results were overwhelming in favor of the tattooed.
When Mary V. from Virginia decided to get a tattoo, she knew she would get just one and she didn't want it to look tacky, "[s]o I settled for just one tattoo with the first initial of my 3 kids (DLM)...not very big and placed symbolically on my heart," she noted.
My friend Jeff (originally from Pennsylvania but now living in Belgium,) shared his story with me:
"I've wanted a tattoo since I was 18, but was always afraid of the pain, and never really found a design I was truly happy with. When our second daughter was 18 months (when I was 36), I found the b***s to get over the prospect of pain, and I commissioned a very good friend of mine to do the designs. My idea was to have him creatively design the names of both my daughters, Kaya and Ivy, to have them inked on the outside of my forearms. He came up with a great design, I took them to the tattoo joint in Philly, and the rest is history."
Many other Facebook friends shared their stories with me about the tattoos they have, or the ones they wished they had, in honor of their kids. As for me, I'm afraid I peaked too early and got my ink before my kids came along. But I have to admit that this post has me thinking about ways to confirm those early "rebel-years" tattoos into a tribute to my girls. I'll keep you posted...
How about you? Do you have or wished you had a tattoo to honor your kids?