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Mama’s Guide to Getting Inked

I know what you’re thinking, “A tattoo? But I’m a mom! Moms can’t get tattoos.” Au contraire. You absolutely can, and should, get a tattoo. Here’s the deal, you’re {likely} not a careless teenager anymore. What you like now, you will like for more of your life than not. Which means, you’re less likely to end up with serious tattoo regret. Why not celebrate your adulthood with a little personality-expressing tat?!

Several weeks ago, I got my first tattoo, as a late-twenties mother of two. I’ve wanted one for a long time, but hadn’t found something I’d want on my body forever. After becoming a doula, it hit me. At each birth, I say “breathe” about a million times, because when we are in pain or feeling anxious, breathing is the first thing we forget to do. I also could use the reminder on a daily basis. “Breathe” when my lid is about to blow after the 15th request in five minutes for snacks. Just “breathe” and let the fog clear. Underlining “Breathe” is an olive branch (symbolizing peace and victory) and a bundle of lavender branches (symbolizing healing, peace, and inner self-awareness). 

If you’ve considered inking up, here’s what you need to know about the process: 

What to Get

Unlike tattoos of the past, there are more possibilities now than pirate ships and x-rated women. As a matter of fact, you can get something permanently displayed on your body that is completely personalized and unique to only you. Find someone to create your image, print out a copy (preferably in the size you desire), and voila! Let your tattoo artist take it from there. 

In a world of endless possibilities, how do you choose what you want inked on your body for the rest of forever? Well, this is completely up to you. Maybe you want something meaningful like a favorite Bible verse or phrase. Maybe you want the signature of a deceased loved one, like your mother or grandfather. Consider something like your child’s footprint, birthday in Roman numerals, names laced within an arrow or heart. The sky’s the limit . . . you could even have the sky literally tattooed to your body, if you wanted.

Where to Go

After you decide on what to get, choosing where to go is the next step. Where you go largely depends on what you want. If fine lines are what you’re wanting, look through portfolios until you find someone with good examples of fine lines. If you want something shaded or colored, look for someone with great examples of shading or coloring. Try to look for photos of healed tattoos, otherwise, just understand that the color won’t be quite as vibrant in about four weeks when it’s healed.

If your personal schedule allows, try meeting with several artists for consultations. Most shops have websites with online portfolios so if you don’t have time to meet prior, you should be fine. Check Instagram and Facebook too.

What Now

With your artist chosen and your printed image burning a hole in your pocket, it’s time to get.it.done. If you’re feeling anxious, get a posse together and make it a whole thing. For my big day, I brought along a couple of friends and called them my tattoo doulas. While some parlors take appointments, some do not. Because the artist I chose didn’t take appointments, I arrived at the shop right at opening time and was in and out within an hour.

When you arrive, your artist will create a stencil of your beloved artwork. Placing your stencil is like taking your tattoo on a little date. This step helps you decide how exactly you want it done before making the lifetime commitment. After the stenciling is done and your tat’s location is solidified, sit (or lay) back and relax — seriously, because it will hurt more if you’re tense. If your artwork will be in a place that is typically covered by clothing, it’s a good idea to wear clothing that won’t be too tight on the tender area. {Before you leave, your artist will place some sort of wrapping on the area, so don’t worry about getting ink on your fly outfit.}

As far as the pain goes, it probably isn’t what you expect. It feels more like a cat scratch than a needle. Not great, but it doesn’t hold a candle to childbirth, or sibling bickering (and you survive that on a daily basis). 

One Last Thing . . .

Don’t be surprised if you feel a little faint, panicked, or terrified once it sinks what you’ve done. I went in full panic mode the first night with my tat, fearing I’d ruined my life forever. Apparently this is a normal part of the process. You should also expect this panic to be more intense the more visible the tattoo. It’s “pythagoras theorem” . . .  or something like that. Fear not, in no time at all you’ll be over the shock of that first tattoo and onto planning your next. 

While this commitment seems intimidating, you’ll be excited you took the plunge. Tattoos offer a unique look into a person’s brain without having to say a single word. Unless it’s a really vague tattoo, in which case, you’ll be talking a LOT! 

What was or will be your first tattoo?

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3 Responses to Mama’s Guide to Getting Inked

  1. Elena May 8, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

    If you’re serious about your tattoo being unique and personal to you, I would start with the artist first. Research, research, research! Find someone whose style and vision matches your own. They’re artists and will work with you to create special. Leading with the image will get you the same thing everyone else has.

    • Cate
      Cate May 8, 2017 at 5:26 pm #

      Agreed! I had a very talented friend design it. I love that it’s unique to me and meaningful because someone close to me created it.

      • Elena May 8, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

        Awesome! That’s a great way to do it!

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