Landon flopped down beside me at Grandma Butters’ swimming pool. I can still see it as plain as the day it happened 13 years ago. We were sitting in the poolside gazebo and I glanced down at the top of his sandaled feet and what I at first thought was a bruise, was actually a sunflower tattoo covering the top of his foot. What?!?
My son had a tattoo?
I couldn’t believe it.
When had I lost control of my children?
All of my old judgments rose up-- Tattoos are not professional, Tattoos are so permanent, You’ll regret it when you’re older...yada yada yada.
I spoke some of them to Landon which didn’t help our relationship and then I stopped.
I remembered Landon was an adult and it was his foot and if he wanted a tattoo who was I to say anything about it. Well, I could say something about it, but it wasn’t going to change anything. It wasn’t going “fix” anything and make the tattoo go away.
It was at that point I made peace with control or my lack of it.
The only thing we are in control of is ourselves and our thoughts. Thinking we have control of our children or our spouse or who gets tattoos or how things should be done at the DMV are all illusions.
When my kids were little I was under the impression that I was in control of them and their bedtimes, bath times, eating times, etc… This was a funny notion. In reality, I could get them into bed at a certain time, but I couldn’t control if they slept or how many times they got up for a drink or to ask a question. (Truman was the best at the question thing: “Hey if I can walk with my left and right leg does that mean my legs are ambidextrous?) I could get them into the tub but had no control of the water staying in the tub or them. I could sit them down in front of a sandwich, but having them eat it or not was a daily crapshoot.
My lack of control was true then, even if I didn’t acknowledge it, and continues to be true as I move into my adult children stage.
My youngest turned 18 this week.
She is a daily reminder of my lack of control.
Good thing I gave the notion of control up and moved into curiosity and trust years ago.
I’m curious as to the behavior of my 18-year-old daughter and all of my children, I view their choices with interest and compassion and I trust God that it’s all going to work out.
Since that day over 13 years ago I have two other children who have gotten tattoos-- one just showed up with it (I thought he magic markered something on his arm), and the other spoke to me about it beforehand and I expressed my concerns and they got the tattoo anyway.
In the grand scheme of things what does a tattoo even matter?
Here’s what I hope I’m teaching my children….that they can come to me with anything and I am open to all of their life choices and I will always love them. They are in control of themselves and their thoughts and I am in control of mine.