Whenever my kids are upset about something a “friend” has said to them, my immediate reaction is to say, “Why do you care what so-and-so says? As long as you like [fill in the blank], it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.” I try to teach them that the only opinion that should matter is their own opinion (and, of course, mine.). I have been trying to instill this sense of independence in them since they were really small but recently I took a step back and looked at myself and wondered if I was taking my own advice.
I am a confident person and yet something inside of me cares (slightly) what other people think. If not, why would I threaten my kids with bodily harm if they embarrass our family name when we go out in public? Why else would I duck behind dog food display at the grocery store when I am fresh from the gym looking a hot, funky mess because I have spotted someone I know in the store?
And, why else would I be considering removing one of my tattoos? I have three (yes, three!) tattoos, and while my tattoos may not fit my current persona as PTA board member, homemade cookie baker, mommy necklace wearer, and obsessive cleaner and sweeper, my tattoos represent who I was some 15 years ago. Apparently, 15 years ago I was a tattoo-loving, free-spirited girl who could take a fair amount of pain without an epidural. But, that is so not the case today. Now I am wee bit embarrassed by the almost life-sized lion tattoo that I have on my thigh. I watch people look at me, my mini-van, my three kids, and the organic grapes that I have packed for snacks, and I feel that they are judging, speculating and wondering about me and my tattoo.
But the more that I think about it, the more I wonder what kind of message removing my tattoos will send to my kids. I want them to know that their mother is happy with who she is, imperfections and all. I also want them to know that they should own all of their actions and that all of their actions will have a consequence (good or bad). I don’t want them thinking that they can cavalierly make decisions, then undo them with a few, painful, expensive laser treatments, and all is well again. I also don’t want them thinking that other people’s opinions matter more than their own. So, for now, I have decided to keep my tattoos. They are part of who I was and I will own it.
Of course, when my kids are older, I very well may drag them with me to the laser treatments to show them how really painful owning things and then disowning them can be!