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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Tattoos and tears

Let me start this blog by telling you that I have made many epic parenting “fails” in the 25 years that I have been a mom.  I won’t shame myself or bore you with those details today. I would also say that we have been pretty strict parents, and Spencer and Chloe might chime in here, but it’s my blog, so they can’t, but we said “no” to lots and lots of things they wanted, especially tattoos.

Spencer was the first to want a tattoo.  I don’t like tattoos. Well, it’s not that I don’t like them, I have seen lots of tattoos that are really cool, it’s just that I didn’t want them on my child and I would give all the reasons why I didn’t want him to get one “it’s permanent, you can’t erase it, you’ll never get a job with a tattoo (even though he wanted it on his rib cage), etc”.  In the end, we left it at “when you are 18-years-old you can do what you want with your body”.  And he did.

Next, it was Chloe.  My daughter wants a tattoo??  Same arguments were made, same conversations, and at the age of 18 she got her first tattoo.  In fact, Ian and I took her to a tattoo parlor in Cape Town and watched it happen. She chose to get the word “Agape” written in Greek on her foot.  Not so bad, if you have to have a tattoo.

In the past seven years there have been a few others, on both Spencer and Chloe, each time they would tell me they were getting another tattoo and send me a photo asking if I liked it.  Trying to be a loving and supportive mom, I would tell them yes. In fact, they both got really cool tattoos with a world map, which helps them tell their personal stories, in short, when someone asks them “where are you from” or “where does your family live”.  A map on your body that includes eSwatini/Canada/Taiwan and the US is very helpful. 😂

And then this happened.

A few weeks ago Chloe asked me to send her photos of cool African trees.  I didn’t ask why and took photos as I walked around the farm. Then she told me that she was thinking about getting another tattoo. I smiled and asked what kind of a tattoo? 

A tree in our front yard

Here is what she said, “I want to have a cool African tree that represents Swaziland, my experiences and how they’ve shaped me and helped me to grow to be who I am now. I want to include a heart because my heart is in Swaziland and our home there will always be a constant for me, and I also want something that represents Heart for Africa and how incredible Project Canaan has grown to be over the past 10 years. The roots on the tree represent my uprooted lifestyle, but that a big part of me is still in Swaziland.  Overall, I want a tattoo that shows how Swaziland and Heart for Africa have shaped my life and helped me grow, and that I want to continue to support you guys till the end 😀.”

That is where the “tears” part of this blog title comes in.  While I know that both Chloe and Spencer FULLY support the work we are doing here, I also thought that deep down there might be some resentment or regret of the life that they used to have.  The “normal” life of middle class teenager living in Canada or the US that was taken away from them when we decided to pack up and move to Africa (and get them 233 brothers and sisters).   But here she was custom designing a tattoo that represented her love for us, for the mission and for the complicated journey that she has been on.

Chloe sent me a photo of the design, then a photo of her tattoo. I showed Ian (who has more of a visceral response to tattoos) and he said, “Wow, that’s a really cool tattoo.  Who’s arm is that?” 

I paused, didn’t answer, and he looked closer and said, “Is that Chloe?  Well, it IS a really cool tattoo”. 

Yesterday I asked Chloe if I could write a blog about her tattoo and the journey, and it was her turn for tears.

Tattoos and tears – just a couple of things that I love about my darling girl who I will be seeing next week as we join Spencer in Barcelona for his 25th birthday.  I am so very proud of both of our children and that adults that they have become, tattoos and all.

Live from eSwatini … I remain rooted in love.


PS - Chloe's tattoo story happened before she saw our 10th anniversary theme of "Rooted in Love". HOW COOL is THAT?!

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