Wow! Just wow! Have you seen the news about the 3D tattoos for women with breast cancer? How cool is this? After seeing this story I started thinking about how far the tattoo industry has come. Depending on the era that you grew up, your views on tattoos may differ. I was in high school in the 80’s and back in my day (yes, I just said that) the only people I knew with tattoos were either the bikers or military personnel. They were branded for a cause. How times have changed.

In my 20’s more and more girls I knew were getting tattoos. I remember thinking that I would never get one. Other than the pain, I was fearful as I aged my tattoo would somehow morph into some unrecognizable shape. I pictured having a cute heart turn into some grossly misshaped tomato. I didn’t want to be in a nursing home someday with a big tomato on my rear.

One night I was out having dinner with one of my dearest friends. She has a tattoo of a fish on her shoulder. She got it while on travel with her husband. It is symbolic of their youth. However, she did mention that she wished she had chosen something different. This was my biggest fear. Permanently branding yourself and changing your mind later in life. Later that evening we ran into someone she knew who happened to be a tattoo artist. We had a long discussion about tattoos and why I personally would never get one. He quickly squashed my entire “I will never get a tattoo because….” list. In fact, I think my list annoyed him on many levels. He enlightened me on that fact that tattoos are so much more then branding. They are pieces of art and they don’t spontaneously change over time.

When I was 39, I decided I DID, in fact, want a tattoo. I shared this thought with my friend. She was so excited and offered to pay for it as a 40th birthday present. Now I had to decide what I wanted permanently marked on my body. After much consideration I decided to get the symbol for adoption. I didn’t even know if there was a symbol but I wanted it. I looked online and found one: a triangle and a heart that were entangled. The points on the triangle represented mother, birth mother and child. The heart brought the 3 together. It was perfect!!! I only had one more obstacle which was my husband, my very conservative husband.

I went home that evening and told him my unexpected desire to get a tattoo. He thought I had lost my mind. He was totally against the idea. Then I explained my vision and he immediately said “that’s a great idea!” Suddenly this was becoming real, I became very nervous. My next step was to decide where to put it. I’m still slightly “old school” so I knew I didn’t want it to show at work. After lots of consideration I chose my lower back. Yes, I know, it’s called a tramp stamp. But that takes away from the beauty of the message. I chose that spot because it was discrete. It wasn’t an arm or a leg and I could hide it with my clothes.

Finding a tattoo artist was my friends’ job. I had zero idea how to do so. I heard so many horror stories of infections, disease and botched art work. I needed a pro. My friend found a lovely lady that was an artist. I contacted her and sent her a picture. We scheduled the big event on my 40th birthday. I had read that you shouldn’t drink before a tattoo (supposedly it thins your blood and can make for a messy application). I have to say I totally ignored that rule. I could not walk into this without some sort of liquid courage. So off I went.

The first thing I want to say to those who have never gotten one. YES, IT HURTS. Oh my, the pain in my book was a 10 (out of 10). But I sat through it and survived. Afterwards, I felt so cool. I had a tattoo. Me… Kathy… Mom of 4… got a tattoo. 

I swore after that day I would never get another one. The pain was harsh. But two years later I decided my tattoo was boring. It had meaning but it was bland. It needed some pizazz. So, I did it again. I went back and added 4 flowers to represent each of my children. It completed the look I was hoping for.

A few weeks after my second tattoo my sister in law came to visit for the holidays. She wanted a tattoo. So guess what, I went back again and got another one! Crazy, I say. This time I got a small one on my hip. It was the symbol for friendship. My friend got one too. We use it as a reminder that friendship is important. It has been almost 8 years to the day and I love my tattoos. They are still hidden but such a beautiful reminder when I look in the mirror of a wonderful life of family and friendship.

The industry has come such a long way from the days of “MOM” inscribed on a bicep. There are currently several shows about tattoo artists. Even competition shows looking for the best of the best. I have seen a variety of artwork from portraits, invisible black light images and now 3D tattoos. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. I don’t plan on a fourth but I never planned on the first.

Kathy Rau

Kathy is raising four beautiful children with her husband, Mark. She loves living in the historic area of Fredericksburg, VA. For over 20 years, Kathy has been a Licensed Veterinary Technician and currently works part time in emergency and radioiodine medicine. Kathy runs a small business called Your Girl Friday, FXBG. Kathy has been blogging for less then a year but loves to share her stories. She has been published on Her View From Home, The Mighty, America Adopts and has had a variety of other guest posts. Her niche is Motherhood, Friendship and Adoption. You can find Kathy at: IG: krau67 Twitter: @kathyrau Facebook: Your Girl Blogs.