The Girl With the Handprint Tattoo


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childrearing, Communication, Daughters, Family, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters | Posted on 15-08-2012

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The girl? My daughter when she was five, who was scared to perform at her tap dance recital.

She wore shiny, patent-leather tap shoes. Her hair was in “doughnuts” with ribbons. Her father, siblings, and grandparents were all in the audience waiting. And she wouldn’t budge. She had stage fright.

The handprint “tattoo?” Uh, that was from me. From gripping her wrist. Just before she was supposed to go on, I tried sweet-talking her. Encouraging her. Bribing her.

Nothing worked.

So, I transformed into Mommie Dearest. I gripped her wrist tightly and hissed under my breath:


She did not argue. She did the routine with the others. There was no smile on her face. Were those tears in her eyes?

Ugh. Pit in my stomach. I felt horrible for the way I acted. I returned to my seat. And clapped when she was done. But I was pissed at myself. Why did I let a stupid little tap dance recital take priority over being supportive and reassuring? And kind?

Her “tattoo” quickly faded. But I’m not sure if my actions did.

We have talked about this. I apologized with tears in my eyes. My daughter forgave me.

Yet I wonder if she will remember the Mommie Dearest behavior long after the shuffle-hop-step fades. Because a mother’s words and actions are like a tattoo.

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Comments (12)

Oi. I have had too many of these already in 2 years. Not exactly, but temper lost & actions regretted. Same idea.
I guess “try try again.”
Thanks for sharing!

I think all moms have a horrible shameful memory like that… Mine was while we were playing a board game that I didn’t want to play and I knew the girls should be in bed already (okay, I needed to be in bed already) and I was VERY cranky. We were trying to play the game but both of my girls kept jumping on me and grabbing my head, pulling it down to kiss me. When they went to do it for what seemed like the hundredth time, I snapped and screamed at them to just quit touching me. The second the words left my mouth, I immediately regretted it but when my 6 year old whimpered, “but I just wanted to kiss you, mommy” I was ready to throw myself off a cliff. Still when I think about it, it’s dangerous to leave me alone with sharp objects. I apologized, I cried, they forgave me but I’ll never forgive myself…

Thanks for sharing…regretting words and actions suck. But it’s part of life and I think it’s a lesson for our kids to realize that we make mistakes too.

Oh and I make lots of them…

Thanks for sharing yours. I think if we realize and admit when we have screwed up, apologize (and mean it), discuss it, then we can move on. Not sure if the self-forgiveness always kicks in…I usually hang onto things a long time.

It’s tough, this mothering thing…

Thanks for writing!

You are an awesome Mum Pip.. I wish you were my Mum! ….mmmmm no I don’t, I’m older than you, that would just be WEIRD!

Thank you! Yeah, that would be weird unless you’ve got a Benjamin Button thing going on…


BETZGER 1  0Ich behaupte mal das in so einer Situation das logische denken beim Opfer aussetzt. Wüsste nicht ob ich anders reagieren würde, nur eben auf deutsch & ohne Unelrtitet.

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