I'll Never Cover My Tattoos, Because They're Meaningful To Me As A Mom

Ad failed to load

I got my first tattoo the day I turned 18. I can still remember the anticipation boiling up inside me as I drove through downtown Pittsburgh with two friends, searching for a tattoo parlor in the South Side. As I walked into into a room filled with people covered in tats and piercings , I remember feeling a little bit out of place. But I knew I wanted to get a butterfly branded on my foot in plain black ink to signify the moment that I became an adult, when I would finally get to spread my wings and fly. As cliche as it might sound, that first butterfly tattoo has been with me through life’s ups and downs, reminding me to push forward through the hard times.

Over the years, that single butterfly on my left foot has multiplied into three. Later this summer, I'm going to get my fourth and final tattoo. They are now filled in with beautiful colors, and they represent the members of my family: my husband, my son, and my infant daughter. They are meaningful to me, and for that reason I will never cover up my tattoos, even though I might be shamed for having them. Instead, I'm going to proudly display them every chance I get.

Courtesy of Allison Cooper
Ad failed to load

My tattoos are on my feet and ankles, and they are small but visible. With the summer months and sandal season swiftly approaching, I know that I’m about to get all the looks that I typically do on the playground or at the pool. People approach me all the time — sometimes to compliment me and tell me how much they love my tattoos, but others have no problem voicing their concerns that I’m setting a bad example for my kids.

Covering my tattoos would be shielding a part of myself from the world.

One time, we were away for a long weekend while I was still pregnant with our daughter, and there were two women sitting behind me at the pool who were chatting loudly. I could overhear them talking about how horrible it was that I had tattoos, that it was disgraceful and I was setting a bad example for my unborn child. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

Ad failed to load

The worst part is that these comments are always targeted at me and not my husband, even though he has all sorts of tattoos on his upper arms. If someone does approach him, all he has to say is that he got the tattoos in the military and it's understood that they are acceptable. It seems like most people think that it's inappropriate for moms to have body art, but for some reason dads get a free pass.

Courtesy of Allison Cooper

The tattoo-shaming is ridiculous, because humans have been marking their skin with tattoos for thousands of years, either to commemorate a specific cultural ritual or just for decoration. Over the years, they’ve become popular in different cultures and in different ways, but they're always a personal form of self-expression.

Ad failed to load
I got these tattoos because my family has added so much color to my life. Every day in parenthood is an adventure, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them in my life, inspiring me and testing me to always be the best version of myself.

I view my tattoos as a way to teach my kids the value of self-expression, in whatever form that might take. (And before you ask: we've already talked to our 8-year-old son about how he has to wait till he's an adult before he gets a tattoo, and he's informed us that he has no interest in getting one. That's totally his decision to make.) Each of my tattoos has a deep meaning, and getting them was a process I never took lightly.

I have three butterflies right now that represent my husband, my son, and myself. Soon, I’ll have a fourth representing my daughter. The original, black-inked butterfly has been filled in with green and yellow, and the additional two are in purple and pink. I got these tattoos because my family has added so much color to my life. Every day in parenthood is an adventure, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them in my life, inspiring me and testing me to always be the best version of myself.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Allison Cooper

I know that my experimentation with tattoos will stop here, as we’re done having kids and I feel like my little gang of butterflies are complete. But throughout the process of getting my tattoos, I want my kids to grow up knowing that my tattoos tell a story. They're a constant reminder every day to not think so much about how the world might perceive me, but to think about who I really am and what I value. And that's a lesson that I can feel good about demonstrating for my kids, day in and day out.

So while others might feel that I should cover my tattoos because I'm a mom, I know deep down that I just couldn’t. Covering my tattoos would be shielding a part of myself from the world, and I couldn’t go through life never revealing my whole self. It’s just not the type of person I am.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

I’m Registered At Babies “R” Us, & I'm Freaking The Hell Out

Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

Women Who Miscarry Early Deserve To Grieve — Here's How Hospitals Should Be Helping

When I lost my baby back in 2013, it was because of a very early miscarriage. Because of the little amount of time I spent being pregnant, it was though my child had never really existed, which made the next few years hard — I felt like they had been…
By Risa Kerslake

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Reasons Why March Babies Are Total Badasses

From the moment you become pregnant, you begin to wonder what your little one will be like. Will they look like you, your partner, or your Great Aunt Edna? Will they be the quiet, thoughtful type or arrive on this planet raring to go? It's fun to ima…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik