Mum’s the word

Family ink – there’s an art to defusing tensions

Mum's the Word
Mum's the Word

Arriving back at the workpod I’m greeted by Youngest Child wielding a screwdriver. Winner of the school prize for woodwork and student of joinery before she switched to fashion and beauty, she’s a handy woman to have in the homestead - eyebrows or shelving, she’s a lamination legend.

“Hello Mother. I’m just going to build your shoe storage cabinet for you.”

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Yes! I’ve been walking around the box in the hall for three weeks now.

“Lovely. Thank you! Good girl.”

“I know.” She sits on the sofa beside her brother who is living there while between flats, and says: “Mummy, are you in the best mood you’ve ever been?”

“Possibly.“ I sit down on the sofa next to them. ‘Mummy’ is the first red flag, the second is the enquiry after my mood.

“Cos I had another tattoo.”

“Yes, I know, on your leg,” I say. “You’ve shown me and I’ve come to terms with it. I’ve calmed down and recognised you’re an adult, it’s your body not mine (even though I grew it and kept it pristine for as long as was humanly possible).”

She studies the cabinet instructions, which look like an architect’s drawing for The Pyramids, with accompanying hieroglyphics, as I continue.

“After a period of self-reflection I recognise I have a hypocritical attitude towards tattoos, because I do like them, just on people who aren’t my children. I admit I’ve come to appreciate Eldest’s Renaissance sun (nice classic design), Middle’s tree (lovely execution) and pizza shovel (the minimalist line and circle redolent of a time and place where he learned valuable life lessons [an organic/pizza rave farm in Portugal].

“And I recognise the words on your leg are a powerful statement of self-worth, in a lovely font. What does it say again? My Spanish is rusty. ‘I love my body and that’s all that matters?’ It’s all good.”

“Yeah, but I got two done,” she says. “Another on my hand. I just haven’t shown you yet. Giving you time to get used to the leg.”

Me: “OFG sake!” Zero to raging. I should go out. “Show me.”

Middle in the middle is silent, doing good cop.

“Butterflies. OK. They’re lovely. And it’s your body. You’re an adult.”

Middle stays silent.

“Are you going to cry?” she says.


If it gets my shoe cabinet constructed, I’m sure I can manage to squeeze out a tear or two.

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Mum's the Word

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