Thursday, September 10, 2009


For her eighteenth birthday, back in the spring, DD's best friend got a tattoo. DD went with her and got one too. The best friend's mom went with them and got one too. I went with them too, but I hadn't found the right design, so I deferred. It was really fun, though, two best friends and their moms. When each girl got her tattoo, the mom held one hand and the best friend held the other. The other mom chattered on to help distract them from the sound and piercing of the needle.

Funny, that seems to be just what young adults need at this stage of life. Their peers have a huge influence on their choices, from clothing to body art to socializing and beyond. They need to have close relationships with their peers, because becoming intimate with people outside the family is essential for their self-development into mature adults.

They also need to have adults in their life, in strong supporting roles, to serve as additional role models and resources outside their family.

And yes, they need their parents. We have more and more of a background role as time goes on, of course, but it seems to me that they still need to know that we are there for them. And when something big happens in their life, be it a source of joy or pain, they are likely to want us in on it in some way.

After the three of them got their tattoos, DD made me promise that we would go back before she left for college, and I would get one, as soon as I had a design. Well, summer always goes too fast, and before I knew it, we only had a couple of weeks left. In fact, she text'ed me from an out-of-town trip to say, "We need to get you your tattoo. Oh, and btw, I want another one too!"

Schedules being what they were, it came down to the LAST night before she was set to leave, and we agreed we would go get the tattoos. I still didn't have a design. I figured I would just get something small in a non-public location, just for the experience of it. However, I really liked hers and indicated that I would consider getting it, but I wasn't sure how she would feel about that. Turned out, she was fine with that, so off we went.

The first tattoo shop we tried didn't have time for both of us before closing time, so we went to another place that came recommended. I have to admit, although I have two tattoos, I didn't quite know what I was in for. My others are pretty small and not too intricate. This one took about 1 1/2 hours for me, and 1 hour for DD (hers is smaller). And yes, it hurt. By the time we finished, it was 9:30, and we still hadn't had dinner! We went off to DogTown for some veggie sandwiches. (By the way, I really liked our artist. He had a great demeanor, and he stayed very late so that we could both get ours done!)

The whole experience was a memorable way to mark the transitions that we each are facing. Here it was, her last night before college, and (although she had been with friends virtually every moment that week), she was spending this night with me. I feel very grateful for that.

The very act of getting a tattoo can represent self-expression, independence, commitment, a turning point. It seemed like all of those to me, and I think to her as well.

And this time, not only was I by her side as she got her tattoo, she was also by mine to support me.


Heather said...

It sounds like you and your daughter have a great relationship. I remember when I first got a tattoo (it was back in the 70's) my mom was just mad at me for wasting money I should have spent on groceries! She did go on, however to play a tattooed lady in not one but two productions of the play "Talking With." Funny how it goes...

Heather said...

Oh, and by the way, nice tattoo!

vicki hartman said...

that is a beautiful post, julie!


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