Inside: 90s nostalgia, tattoos, bumper sticks, and three career lessons that will stick with me.
I’m 98.5% certain that I’ll never get a tattoo.
It has nothing to do with my opinion of them on other people (because my opinion of other people’s bodies doesn’t matter one iota, but for the record – I think your tattoo is fantastic).
Or needles (a little to do with needles).
It really boils down to an adolescent crush on Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on JTT
Growing up in 90s suburbia there were two types of people: people who thought *NSYNC was better than the Backstreet Boys and people who were wrong.
Sure, I’ll rock out to a Backstreet Boys jam today but my loyalty still runs deep.
There were also two generally agreed-upon adolescent crushes within my friendship circle, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Devon Sawa. You couldn’t go too wrong with this one, because ugh Devon as Casper, melt my 11-year-old heart, but I set up camp in the land of JTT.
*NSYNC, that other boyband, JTT, and Devon were all regularly featured in Teen Beat, Tiger Beat, Cosmo Girl – all the classics.
Teen Beat had the best posters though and I have vivid memories of going to friends’ houses and their bedrooms being covered floor to ceiling in dreamy teenage love.
If These Walls Could Talk
Not MY room though, because while I don’t remember my dad taking a super hard line on a lot, he had a thing about permanence. And resale value. He also had a pretty good understanding about the fickle nature of children.
As a result, Pop could not care any less how cute Jonathan Taylor Thomas was, his Teen Beat poster was not getting tacked onto my bedroom wall. Haphazard adolescent tacking would ruin the value of our home and wreak havoc on my parent’s nest egg.
I negotiated for tape but that was also against house regulations for fear of peeling paint. If something was going onto your wall it was going on there framed and with a nail carefully placed by an adult. And it would be up there until the end of time. You had to make a real glass/plexiglass/plastic commitment to bedroom decoration.
Maintaining the pristine condition of our walls to ensure that my parents would retire comfortably seemed like a lot of pressure on my 11-year-old self, but it was a good, albeit a little intense, lesson.
The Car With the Lower Back Tattoo
This permanence stance wasn’t solely related to JTT posters or bedroom walls.
Car bumper stickers were also a no-go. I honestly believe that if I was running for President of the United States my dad still wouldn’t put a bumper sticker on his car.
Don’t get me wrong, he would totally vote for me as long as I was running on a fiscally responsible platform but I could not count on him for an advertisement on wheels. I was taught that once a bumper sticker was on it would be there for.ev.er, again severely damaging resale.
To this day, if I see a car donning a bumpers sticker for a politician who failed to win the office of her/his choosing a little part of my heart dies. For the politician who really was just trying her/his best, for the car owner whose dreams were dashed, and for that poor car who just lost a couple hundred bucks of value in Kelly Blue Book.
Living in politically active Massachusetts it’s really a wonder I make it through my commute without eating all the ice cream in despair.
Fine, JTT. You Win.
What does this all have to do with tattoos? Well, everything.
I have friends and family members with gorgeous, meaningful tattoos and they are awesome.
But for me, with my dad’s voice ringing in my hear, it will probably be a no. Those things are REALLY permanent, and what if I change my mind? And looking back on my life and career to date, I probably will. At least seven times.
So as a result, Jonathan Taylor Thomas will have to stay in a small frame that can easily be removed from my nightstand and the tattoos will be of the stick-on variety.
Unless for some reason my dad hits 70 and decides YOLO and gets a portrait of our family tattooed on his back and I’m left questioning my belief system.
The Career and Life Takeaways
How are we going to translate this back to talk about career development and working motherhood? With a shoe horn, my friend. With a shoe horn.
For me it comes down to a few things.
One, drawing boundaries. Where’s your line? Whether that’s about tacks in the wall or working hours or what you and family spend time doing together. We all need boundaries, and this is something I’m constantly working on to continue to find joy and fulfillment in work and life. Perhaps a firm page out of my dad’s book would do the trick. Set a boundary, stick to it.
Two, embracing flexibility. On the flip side of this, what makes a lot of sense in my dad’s resale value policy rule is that it’s based on the idea of flexibility. He knew we would grow and change as kids and he encouraged that, but didn’t want our growing and changing to cause him to repaint the walls again, which is fair. Building flexibility into your life to accommodate growth and change in a way that works for you, that’s a darn good plan.
Three, your body your choice. While my father’s influence and JTT have both had an impact on my tattoo decision, at the end of the day it is my body and my choice. For me, I choose no tattoos. My kids, my coaching clients, my colleagues – they might end up covered in tattoos and that’s more than fine! It’s great. Their bodies, their choices.
As employers, as mothers, as people, the “my body my choice” lesson will ALWAYS be a good one.
Would you look at that? We made JTT, parenthood, and careers come together in one blog post. God bless the internet!