My babies. They consume my thoughts and, sometimes, my dreams, too. When I’m away from them, I’m thinking: Are they OK? Are they happy? Are they hungry? Are they tired? Do they miss me? Do they not miss me? Do they know I’m thinking about them right now? Or, sometimes I’m just remembering a sweet (or horrible) moment from the night before. When we’re together, I try to be as present as possible; taking in the way my daughter’s hair puffs up in curls around her face, and marveling at my son’s long, strong legs and boundless energy.
My babies. They will always be my babies even when they are 40-years-old and too big to curl up in my lap. I am willing time to move as slowly as possible. I still fold my son into a cradled position in my lap so I can rock him and smother him with kisses; me, remembering his tiny little body and sweet smell when he naturally rested in my arms this way as a baby; him, giggling hysterically, insisting he’s not a baby. This is harder to do with my almost-2-year-old. She’s always moving. Still, I pin her down and savor our cuddles whenever I can get them.
They are my everything. When I decided to get a tattoo last week, there was no question that it would be something to symbolize my babies.
I’ve wanted to get a tattoo since high school, but I could never committ to getting anything permanently inked on my body. At one point, I talked about getting the Tasmanian devil tattooed on my butt. There was a rumor that an older girl at my school had gotten that tattoo and it just sounded cool. Of course, what sounds cool in high school isn’t actually cool at all. Thank god I never went through with it.
The closest I ever came to a tatto was getting my belly button pierced shortly after graduating from high school. My twin sister and I secretly drove down to OSU campus to have it done; she was happy to enable my rebellion but totally unwilling to follow in my footsteps, so I sat in the chair and got the piercing alone, with her holding my hand. I’ll never forget the closeness we felt in that moment.
Now, as an adult, I live in Brooklyn (not an Ohio suburb). There are plenty of places to get tattoos, and I can get as many as I want. So, last week, my husband and I hired a babysitter and we walked a few blocks to a tattoo shop that a friend recommended. Call it a fresh date night idea. I would get inked, and then we would try out a new restaurant that had just been written up in The New York Times. We arrived at Triple Diamond Tattoo, in Gowanus, and our friend Adrien was there, preparing to get his second tattoo. A good omen, I told myself.
We met with Jon Jon, the owner, and he sketched out a beautiful, original design that I loved.
Because I endured two C-Sections, I convinced myself that a small tattoo on my wrist wouldn’t hurt. I was wrong. It f*cking hurt. At one point, feeling sweaty, queasy, and faint, I croaked that I needed a break. Jon Jon gave me smarties and soda and made me feel less lame by telling me stories of people who actually passed out in the chair. Turns out this gregarious, witty Brit was also compassionate. My stomach settled and I texted my friend Meirav to distract myself while Jon Jon finished his work. When it was all over, I looked down at my wrist and loved the delicate infinity circle and bold letters.
I’ve had my tattoo for a little over a week now, and I find myself staring at it all the time. I love seeing their names on my wrist. My babies.
Mason: Will you still have that tattoo even when you’re a grandma?
Me: I will. It will never go away.
Mason: I want the exact same tattoo as yours but with the words mommy and daddy on it, too.
Me: If you still want that tattoo when you’re 18 I’ll take you and pay for it.
To my future daughter-in-law: Not to worry, he’ll be over it by then. Just like I got over the Tasmanian Devil butt thing.