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?