Tattoos and Motherhood
This is the inaugural blog post in my new series of doing profiles and interviews with different people in the tattoo community. Recently I had the privilege of sitting down and photographing Rachel and her little one, Willow. We got to talk to Rachel about the journey she and her husband had to start their family, as well as kind of being a tattooed mom means to her. I hope you’ll take the time to read our interview and if you enjoy it, share it. I will be releasing a new interview weekly, so keep an eye out. Without further ramblings, here’s Rachel’s story.
Ricky - Hi Rachel, I really enjoyed meeting you and your little one for our session. Can you give our readers a little bit of background on yourself in a few sentences?
Rachel - Sure! Currently I’m a stay at home mom, which is literally the greatest job in the world! I’ve previously worked at a tattoo shop in south GA where I did body piercings for a few years. I’ve had the chance to model some, mainly because of my art work. And before that I worked at a couple of Harley-Davidson shops.
Ricky - That's awesome! You also mentioned that you've moved around a bit? What originally interested you in tattoo culture?
Rachel - I have! My husband and I are originally from NC. His work is what brought us to GA. Later his company moved us from south GA all the way to north GA and we’ve been settled here now for a few years. As long as I can remember I’ve always been really interested in tattoos. It probably started with my dad. He was a Navy man and when he was stationed away he got this butterfly tattoo on his arm. I vividly remember him flexing his arm and making his butterfly move and I thought that was the coolest thing. Needless to say, I could not wait till my 18th Birthday when I got my first tattoo. From there on it was a game changer. I knew I wanted and had to have more.
Ricky - That's really cool. It's awesome to have a memory like that, that has stuck with you of your dad. So in South Georgia you were working at a tattoo shop and then in North Georgia, you've now become a mom. How has it been transitioning from being a shop girl and piercer to being a stay at home mom?
Rachel - It’s been a huge transition from working with the public to family life! A little bit of back history, my husband and I struggled with infertility for almost 10 years. We saw doctors and specialist. I did every kind of test and took all the drugs trying to get pregnant. We did 3 rounds of IUI and suffered a miscarriage. Moving to north GA allowed me the time to actually focus on trying to start a family. Thankfully out of the blue and all on our own we conceived our daughter and she was born June of 2017. It’s like two different worlds now. I miss piercing. I miss all the different kinds of people you meet and I miss that family feeling working in a shop but nothing compares to being a mom. Maybe one day I’ll get back into it again when she’s a little older.
Ricky - Wow! That is amazing! I had no idea. I'm sure that reading that can give some hope to people out there trying. Sometimes things just have to happen in the right time. What are some ways that motherhood has changed you?
Rachel - Motherhood has changed my whole outlook on life. Like it’s no longer about myself but about this tiny little human that I took part in creating and carried for 9 months. Its made me more grateful for the little things. Its taught me to slow down and appreciate what’s in front of me. It’s made me more hyper aware of what’s going on around me because I want to protect her as much as possible. It’s such a huge responsibility to be given this precious gift to love, nurture and raise. Motherhood has literally been a blessing and a lesson but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Ricky - I love this! I'll tell you it was a blessing for me at our session seeing you and your daughters bond. Doing what I do, I've seen some parents that just haven't had that connection with their little ones. Do you think that your struggle with conceiving and starting a little later than a lot of people has given you a different perspective on being a mom?
Rachel - Oh absolutely. I struggled with depression not being able to conceive. We had “unexplained infertility” so not knowing what the cause was and not being able to fix it was really hard. Watching your friends and family members have babies was tough. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely happy for them but it broke my heart that it wasn’t happening for us. I was at a point where it was really affecting my marriage and I had to take back control. I sought out help. Best thing I could have done. I had to have the mindset that it just wasn’t gonna happen for us and that I needed to be ok with that. We bought a house and adopted a third dog and everything was good. 2 years after giving up and moving on with our life we got pregnant. It was definitely a huge surprise. We were finally given what we had wanted for so long. No way did I want to be 35 and pregnant but that’s how it ended up and I’m absolutely ok with that. I definitely try not to take things for granted because I know she’ll only be little for so long. I’m literally soaking it all in. Like how lucky am I to finally have her? She’s my whole world and I’m so blessed! All of the struggles definitely give you a different mindset. Becoming a mom later in life definitely makes me more focused, in the moment and appreciate what I have.
Ricky - That is so amazing man. I definitely could see it in you guys interactions. On the web sometimes you see things circulating about tattooed parents, and here in the South especially, you can get some stares with being tattooed. How has your experiences been as a tattooed mother?
Rachel - So far so good. My daughters first year being earth side we didn’t really go out much. But this past year we been adventuring out more and to be honest I haven’t really been paying attention to other people because I’m so focused on my daughter. Occasionally I’m surprised by someone coming up to me to say that they admire my art work or to tell me they hope to have that many tattoos one day. I love those moments because they’re unexpected. Hopefully my daughter won’t have to experience anyone being negative towards her mother because of my tattoos. If that happens I’ll use it as a learning experience. That we should be excepting of people no matter what they look like. Very much like that quote about not judging a book by its cover.
Ricky - I love that take on it! Teach our children if negative experiences happen rather than getting upset if they do. I want to thank you so much for being a part of this project and letting me meet and take some photos of you and your little one. Any last words for other folks out there that may be struggling with starting a family?
Rachel - Sure... more or less I want them to know they’re not alone. So many of us women (men to) go through this and suffer in silence. It’s ok to talk about it and share your experience. I don’t want to be yet another person who tells them it will happen when you stop trying because those words are said way to often and really don’t make anyone feel better. I’d rather say I understand and support you. Just breathe and take it one day at a time. Try not to let it consume you and always lead with a positive outlook. But most of all, you did nothing wrong and it isn’t your fault.
And thank you Ricky! Willow and I enjoyed our time with you! Hopefully we’ll get together again in the future
I sincerely hope that you enjoyed this interview and story. This project is especially dear to me as I love sharing people’s stories. My goal with this project is for it to be more documentary in nature. So as a disclaimer, the words and ideas that some of the people I interview may not always reflect my views and takes on things. I feel we can learn a lot from people if we open our minds to different views and takes. I hope that will come across in these stories and profiles. Thanks for reading.