Since the genesis of American traditional tattoos, devoting a portion of skin to our beloved mothers — permanently marking it with the deeply sentimental, but incredibly obvious word “mom” scrawled across a cartoon heart — has been common practice, even among otherwise undecorated persons. Over the years, though, wicked tats dedicated to our cherished moms, the ones that created us, cared for us and dealt with our incessant lunacy, have expanded into many shapes and sizes, far beyond just this classic representation.
I myself have one: A rose on the back of my arm, because my mom followed her dream of becoming a florist when she retired, and roses have always been her absolute favorite flower (at least one vase full of roses lived perpetually in all of my childhood homes). I got it during a time when I was feeling especially alone, save for the watchful, supportive presence of (and long, endearing phone calls from) my mom, which seriously helped me push through.
But everyone with a “mom” tattoo has their own special reason for getting it, so as a celebration of all moms — and this coming Mother’s Day — I tracked down a bunch of people with ink dedicated to their mothers and asked them to explain the inspiration behind them. Prepare to experience a wholesomeness level of 9,000.
A Classic Tat for a Classy Mom
Tyler Eastman: I’ve always had an incredibly strong bond with my mom. When she was eight months pregnant with me, my biological dad — who was constantly traveling for “work” — left. I was born a month later, and both of us started living at my grandparents’ house in Brentwood, California, because my mom had no clue what to do with a newborn baby — and nobody there as a male role model — so she did what was most comfortable, of course. A while later, when my mom was in a co-ed softball league, she met my stepdad, and they fell in love. He took me in, and it was basically happy ever after.
The point of that whole story is, throughout all of what my mother was going through, not one day did I ever think anything was wrong. I was never uncomfortable, and that’s because she didn’t want me to be. Mothers have a special power of making everything okay, even if you kind of know something’s wrong. They’re the ones who make it feel like everything’s alright, and that’s special.
To this day, as a 25-year-old, my mom can make me feel that way. Whatever problems and issues that are going on with work or relationships, moms take your mind off of that and bring you to a place of comfortability. As we get older and our moms do, too, we have to do the same for them. My mom inspires me to be a better guy every day, and through everything, it only felt right to get a classic “mom” tattoo for a classic woman.
A Permanent Lady for an Ever-Present Mom
Matthew Sutton: My mom tattoo is a gypsy head. It’s the top part of a half sleeve that I started when I was about a week away from graduating college. The idea of the sleeve was to represent my family and all of the support and sacrifices they made for me, which was something I reflected on during senior year.
The gypsy head represents my mom always watching over me, and all of the jewelry she’s wearing is symbolic of her. She always had raven artwork around the house, because she thought they represented knowledge and wisdom, and she wanted us to strive to learn as much as we could in all aspects of life, so I got a raven in her forehead jewelry. The necklace has an “S” for Sutton, my last name, and is a rendition of a piece she used to wear out. The headdress has the adoption symbol in it — a heart and triangle — because she adopted me when I was really young. If it wasn’t for that, I’d be in such a worse place than I am today. I’m forever grateful.
A Loving Quote for a Loving Mom
Justin Jenkins: My “mom” tattoo says, “No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you are the one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.” It was a quote my mom found when I asked her what she wanted her tattoo to be. She didn’t even flinch, so I know she had it lined up.
My mom’s very sentimental and very, very close to me. My parents are divorced, so I actually have one for my dad and one for my mom. Most people think of divorce as a bad thing, but I developed a beautiful “separate” relationship with both of them that I wouldn’t change for the world. My mom is very appreciative of the tattoo, especially because it’s “forever” there, just like her love for me.
That was super corny, but I had to say it.
A “Mom” for a Mom
Alexandra Benson: My “mom” tattoo literally just says “Mom.” I got it with my mom in London about three years ago — she got my name, and I got “Mom.” It was her first tattoo, and it was a cute, close mom-and-daughter activity, since I had a lot of tattoos, and she didn’t have any at the time. She’s a stuffy business lady from Orange County, California, so hers is on her foot, where she can hide it.
My mom and I are very close and talk multiple times a day, so it was a good bonding moment. I don’t see the tattoo often, because it’s on the back of my arm, but when I do see it, I’m always like, “Aww, mom!” And when she sees it, she always goes, “Mom!” Or she points at it and says, “Mom! That’s me!”