What I'm going to tell my kids about my tattoos

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

I got my first tattoo when I was 40 and my mum was horrified. 

I remember the moment I told her – she thought it was a joke and muttered something about my beautiful body being forever changed.

She was right. I now had a tiny heart tattoo on my wrist and a couple of years later I got another, this time a little anchor on my ankle. Again, she was horrified.

My heart reminds me to write from the heart and wear my heart on my sleeve. My anchor, a play on my name, reminds me of my travels and keeps me grounded, anchored. 

Luckily, they're only small and easily covered by a watch or shoes, so she can pretend they don't exist when we see each other.

People who have lots of tattoos often tell you that once you have one, you want more and more. And I'm here to tell you that they're right. I'm now planning on getting a third, and fourth, image inked into my skin.

While I love what they look like, I'm more so in love with what they mean to me. When I'm anxious, I gently touch my heart tattoo. When I look at my anchor it immediately takes me to all the places I've visited in the world.

But what makes me most glad is that I didn't get any tattoos done when I was younger, because I couldn't imagine what I'd be walking around with on my body. 

Knowing my 20-year-old self, I'd probably have can of Coopers Pale Ale, some Kylie Minogue lyrics or a Farmers Union Iced Coffee tattooed on my body somewhere. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those things, but I wouldn't have a deep attachment to them.

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When my kids were little they'd ask me when the 'drawings' would rub off and sometimes they'd draw their own tattoos on their arms and legs. 

Now they're not that interested in them because unlike when I was growing up and tattoos were mostly associated with bikies, prisoners and sailors, they're a normal part of everyday life. It's almost stranger to see someone who is clear-skinned. 

Expressing yourself through body art has been embraced by a wider cross-section of people, even middle class mum's aged in their forties. 

But while I'm a lover and supporter of tattoos, I'll be telling my children to hold off on getting any until they're old, like me. And never get any on your face or neck because if you change your mind they'll be super hard to remove.

Obviously, I can't tell them not to get tattoos because I have them and love mine. It's not my job anyway. I'm their parent. I'm not the keeper of their body. What they do with their own body is up to them to decide. 

I just want them to understand the permanence of having something tattooed onto your skin.

I want them to remember they, and maybe one day their children and partner, will have to look at their tattoos every day. 

And believe me, you want to look at them with love, not regret.