Currently, I have one tattoo and I’m considering getting a second. My children are not impressed. I know many parents worry about their kids and tattoos but not me. Frankly, I don’t think they’ll get one because tattoos are traditionally about rebellion and since their mother already has one, I’ve robbed them of the chance to rebel against me by rebelling against them first.
I got my tattoo on the day of my 30th birthday at 11 o’clock on a Wednesday morning. I was completely sober because I’m pretty much always completely sober but also because when I booked in the week before (there’s a time and a place for spontenaity and getting a tattoo is not it), I’d signed paperwork promising not to consume alcohol beforehand. So no tequila shots on the way to the tattoo parlour with my tattooed friend Nicky, despite her helpful suggestion. I was eager to follow the tattooing rules as they were laid out for me. How’s that rebellion going so far?
You can see where this is going: nowhere dangerous.
It seemed like a good time in my life to get a tattoo. I was separated from my husband; celebrating a milestone birthday as a single mother and a magazine editor. I was living in the first apartment I had ever decorated myself – shabby chic with the kind of decor that would make a grown man vomit but who cared because there were no grown men living there, just my three-year-old son who thought everything I did was magical. Three-year-old boys are the best.
I’d been thinking about getting a tattoo for a while. I figured that the biggest risk involved was regret and my chances of that were low. I was not young and stupid. Not on schoolies. I was also not in the early infatuation stages of a new romance where you are dangerously vulnerable to the idea of trying on new personas before your true colours calcify around your long-term relationship. I had no plans to get anyone’s name tattooed on my body or even written in a pencil alongside mine in a rental application.
As I closed out my twenties, I was, in fact, resolutely single. After several years of emotional upheaval which included losing a baby and a marriage, I was finally emerging from a long funk thanks to time, girlfriends and weekly therapy.
Turning 30 was significant for me in a good way. My twenties had been difficult for the most part. I’d struggled through them, banging into walls and doing all manner of self-inflicted damage to my life through a series of bad decisions triggered by having no clue who I was.
Now I knew myself better. It felt like I was at an inflection point in my life and I wanted to mark this moment on my skin, permanently. A celebration of sorts. A way to reclaim the body I’d battled in different ways for much of my life.
My 20s was a difficult decade in my life. My 30 was a new beginning.
Nicky had a couple of tattoos already so she became my spirit guide, deciding where I would go and making the appointment.
I designed my tattoo myself. It was wildly original: an Aztec-inspired swirly shape and I chose the sexiest place I could think of: my lower back. Yeah, I have a tramp stamp. A scrag-tag. Like Amy Schumer, I’m the girl with the lower back tattoo.
If you have no tattoos you'll be wondering this: yes, it bloody hurt. I can’t compare it to anything. It’s a very specific type of hurt. Maybe like it might feel to have a thousand tiny hot knives cutting into your flesh, I don’t know; that’s the description I use when my kids ask me about the pain.