As a new school year is under way, I am reminded when Patrick (my oldest) went away to college. As a parent, you do the best you can to prepare them to be on their own and to have them make the best decisions. Well, that is what I believed we did before he left for school.
I am truly thankful for social media such as Facebook to keep in touch with him as well as calling his cell (a bit too often for him) to see how he is doing. As a mother, you know your child when you are on the phone and something doesn’t sound right. I remember one such phone call that I felt something was wrong or that Patrick was not telling me something. I asked if he had something he needed to tell me but he said everything was ok. I then dropped it as you can only ask so many times.
I was in the den on the family computer when I noticed that it was running very slow. Knowing about computers, I decided to “clean up” storage space by deleting old videos, songs and pictures that I knew the kids didn’t want. As I opened the picture file, I viewed them as small thumb nail files. I started to go down the page deleting photos, when my heart stopped and I couldn’t catch my breath. There in front of me was a picture of “someone” in a mirror with just his mid section showing with a tattoo on the side of his hip. Now it didn’t take long to figure out, it was Patrick.
The tattoo was of a bird with many colors. I just started to cry. How could he do this! Doesn’t he know you can’t “erase” a tattoo? Why didn’t he tell us? My first reaction was to call him immediately and scream at him, but thought I better not.
It was only a week later that Patrick had come home from school for a visit before Christmas break. As he walked in the door, I wanted to pull his shirt up and go “what‘s that?!” But I didn’t. As we were settling in after dinner, I asked to see Patrick in his room and closed the door. His face said it all. He knew, I knew something was up. I had asked him if he had something to tell me. He thought about it and said, “…….no.” I asked again but said, “maybe you have something to show me?” Well, he turned white and said, “…..what? No.” I told him that it was my “motherly instinct” that he was hiding something from me. That God gives us mother’s instincts to go on and that I surely knew, there was something he had to tell me.
At that point, he lifted up his shirt and there it was.
I just shook my head and told him we have to tell Daddy but it was going to be ok. I asked “why didn’t you tell me?” He replied “I knew you would have had a fit.” I, of course, kept to myself how I really found out as I do believe that it was a mother’s instinct from God to find that picture on the computer that day. Reactions were mixed and everything seemed to settle down.
A couple of days later while at Barnes and Noble, Maria was singing Christmas songs with her school choir. I had walked away during a break to go look at magazines. What made me look at tattoo magazines can only be described as God whispering in my ear. I picked up one that can only be described as “what horrible, horrific, scary tattoo” can you get on your body. As I looked at these tattoos, I thought, “oh my gosh, they are stuck with these for the rest of their lives!” No tattoo removal would work for some of these large scary tattoos. All of a sudden, I started to cry thinking Patrick could have had one of those. Stuck with something like that or something like this:
Now, no disrespect to the tattoo artist, as this is very detailed but ….. would you want your son to have this on him for the rest of his life? Well, I walked out of the building and called Patrick immediately. He was probably in class, and it went to voicemail. I was sobbing saying ”I’m not happy about the tattoo but I'm happy that it’s a bird - it’s the “Holy Spirit” bird - right?” “I mean, you had happy thoughts when you got it - right?” “At least you didn’t get a ’dead baby head’ or devil tattoo - right?” As I was sniffling along and making no sense what-so-ever, I thought it best to hang up. I forgot that I put my phone on silent and missed Patrick‘s call back. There was a message from him. As I listened to the message he opened up with, “Mommy - it’s 1 o’clock in the afternoon and are you drunk.” “What is wrong with you?” “Ok - fine, it’s the ’Holy Spirit’ bird if you want it to be, talk to you later, love you.”
I was looking around to see if “Candid Camera” was on me. I felt so stupid. Why did I react that way. He was eighteen at the time, had his own money and made the decision himself. He was brought up to respect people and love his family which he did both very well. I called him back and he answered the phone. I told him I was not drunk and told him what I saw. That he could have really gotten worse things and that as I was not thrilled with his decision but it was something I could accept.
Now we laugh about it as I still tell him, don’t keep anything from me as my “motherly instincts” can come out at anytime and I will find out.
P.S. - don’t tell him, I think it’s kinda cute as a matter of fact. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.