Sunday, May 13, 2012

Of Motherhood, Tattoos, and Fearless Rebellion

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who has children in her life!  As we all know, motherhood, sisterhood, aunthood, even mentorhood is not something for the faint of heart. Helping to raise children who are self-confident, self-sufficient, and all-around good citizens is the work of those who have spots already waiting for them in heaven.

I have two children. I wanted ten, but someone was definitely watching out for me. Two were plenty, and they were and are the joys of my life. I think my husband and I raised two pretty great kids. We had the normal parental skirmishes, but nothing major.  And I learned plenty from my daughter and son—which brings me to the topic of this blog today.  You might think this will be about all the stick-to-itiveness, dream-building, and  goal-achievement my kids taught me. But, no.
All my children:  Daughter-in-law Jodi, Son Adam, Daughter Jennifer, Son-in-law Matt
This is about how they taught me to rebel. 

It started when I told my kids I would disown them if they ever got tattoos.  This wasn’t a problem for my son—to this day he wouldn’t get a tattoo if you offered him the moon.  My daughter also had no problem with this—until she turned eighteen.  Then, during spring break one year, she became the proud wearer of a tiny-but-permanent leaping dolphin above her ankle.  She obviously won this round because I didn’t disown her (besides, she was eighteen), but maybe I should have, since the next year she came back with a galloping horse on her lower back. A horse with a fiery tail and hooves. It wasn’t tiny.  Worst of all, I started to cave – I told her it was pretty.

Fast forward several years. My son remained true to his convictions. My daughter, on the other hand, taught by her own mother that threats do not always come to pass, started a campaign. When I turned fifty in a few more years, she would get me a tattoo—and it would be that, or no present from her.
Hah! I told her I didn’t need presents. There would be no tattoo.  But the evil seeds were planted.  Over the next year I started considering what little thing I could put on my lower back. A butterfly? A flower? A rainbow? But my hubby is not a big fan of tattoos.  My son couldn’t believe I’d even consider it. My mother was horrified (would she disown me? I didn’t know). My daughter was ecstatic.

Fast forward another two years to birthday number fifty.  Does it surprise you at all that my daughter stuck to her guns? It would be a tattoo or nothing. 

I got a tattoo.   

Why? Because of what I learned from my kids, and that was “follow your own heart.” If I didn’t want a tattoo, then I didn’t have to get one and I didn’t have to care whether my daughter liked it or not.  If I wanted a tattoo—and I’d learned that a sick little part of my brain really did—then I needed to do it without apology. In the end found that I needed to rebel, I wanted to rebel. I wanted to not be a people-pleaser and to do something equivalent to what my daughter did over those two spring breaks.

And in the end? I adored my tattoo. I still do. It’s not tiny either – it’s a horse’s head framed by a horseshoe—stylized and based on my own first horse. Guess what? Nobody disowned me. My husband thinks it’s fine And my mother told me it was pretty.  In a very silly way, it’s the most liberating thing I’ve ever done – and it’s really pretty small when it comes right down to it.

It’s also a wonderful, liberating  thing to remember on the days when my writing comes hard, and I’m convinced what I put down on the paper will disappoint everyone: my agent, my editor, my readers. When I feel that way, I just have to remember what my kids taught me:  go for it. Don’t worry about what others expect—be a little daring. A little rebellious. It will turn out fine, and some people will even tell me it’s pretty!

So, here’s a thanks to my kids for making me a mother. And here’s to all the things motherhood taught me—especially how to—once in a while—be a fearless rebel.
And here's my tattoo -- a rare sighting since not many people see it (on my lower back).

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! What about you? What’s the craziest, most fearless thing you’ve ever done?


Mary Marvella said...

Have a great Mama's Day!

Tammy Yenalavitch said...

Happy Mother's Day. I have done some crazy things, but I do not kiss and tell!!

Maxine Mansfield said...

Have a wonderful Mother's day my dear friend. If anyone in the world deserves it you do. You are so right, you have raised two amazing children, and they are as lucky to have you as you are to have them. Oh, and...PS :) I like your tattoo!

Eli Yanti said...

Happy Mother Day :)

Nancy Holland said...

Great Mothers' Day post, Liz. Really, truly, you do not want to know the most fearless thing I've done and, more important, I don't want my (grown) kids to know, either. Hope you fully enjoy the day.

Nancy said...

Liz, what a fun story! I have The Rancher and the Rock Star and look forward to reading it once life settles down a little. I agree with those who described the guy in the cover as seriously hot!

I don't generally go in for fearless or crazy. The closest thing to that I've ever done was sign uo for kickboxing when the karate school ran a Mothers Day special. And I count that only because the dh greeted the news with incredulity, probably because I am, and always have been, an unathletic book geek. It was a great move, though, not only boosting my fitness level and providing fabulous catharsis when needed but providing new insight for writing fight scenes.
From there I branched into karate. I loved that, too, until bad knees forced me to give it up.

BTW, Happy Mothers Day!

Donnell said...

Liz, fabulous story. I learn so much for my kids, and you prove something else. Each is different. There's no such thing as cataloguing our children. Maybe one of these days, we'll ply you with alcohol and you'll show us your tattoo! :) Happy Mother's Day, all!

Sheryl said...

Happy Mother's day cous. Fearless started with being young and ignorant. Had to be to say yes to marrying a widow with three teenage boys. The fearless came about 15 years later when I gave into my DHs desire to be a foster parent, and the agreement with the county that we would take in teenage boys. Definitely a roller coaster ride.

Sheryl said...

ps, I recall a bit of rebellion in you in your younger years, just put it away for a few years, glad Jennifer brought it back out.

LizbethSelvig said...

Thank you, Mary! I wish the same back to you!

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Tammy! You are a wise woman -- you enjoy your secrets AND maintain your dignity! You go!

LizbethSelvig said...

You are the sweetest, Maxine. You have huge, huge, hugs from me today too. I hope playing Nana to your grandbabies brings you peace and joy today! Love you!

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Eli! So great to see you here -- hope things are wonderful in your corner of the world! Happy Mother's Day to you too!

LizbethSelvig said...

LOL - talk about a story with no punchline :-) You're smart, too, keeping your memories and your reputation! Someday I'll get you in private to tell me your story :-) Thanks for all the support--you rock my friend!

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Nancy!! So wonderful of you to stop by. I am hugely impressed that you took kickboxing and karate. I watched my son go through martial arts and I know how amazing they are for strength, control, coordination AND self-confidence. I would love to take karate or tae kwon do -- I think it would be awesome. So, congrats for doing it while you could. I hope you enjoy reading TRATRS when you get a chance - that's so nice of you!

And -- happy mother's day to you too!

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Donnell!
My kids couldn't be more different - one is go,go,go and the other is, "yeah, okay, i'll work on it whenever." It's always been fun watching them morph and they are amazingly fun adults!

As for my tattoo-I probably don't even need alcohol. A nice piece of chocolate or even a back-handed compliment will work :-P Thanks for being here today--big hugs!

LizbethSelvig said...

Sweet Cousin - I think you DID put up with a lot from me when we were kids. I was the opinionated, stop-just-short-of-getting-into-real-trouble one! And, yes, you have had quite an amazing life with your hubby, your adopted sons, and your foster boys. You're pretty amazing! Happy Mother's Day to you -- and huge hugs!