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Mom tattoos show off kids

Call it Mommy Ink.

Mothers of all ages are hitting the tattoo parlors -- and it's not about nostalgia for their rebellious youth.

They're getting sentimental tributes to their children: their kids' names, their baby footprints, their portraits, even their finger paintings.

"Moms come in and say, 'I've always wanted a tattoo, now I have a kid. Now I have a reason to get one,' '' said Bobby Tobin, an artist at Cool Cat Tattoos in Fort Lauderdale.

It's a safe choice, he said, as far as relationships go.

"Marriages can break up. Boyfriends and girlfriends can break up,'' Tobin said. "But your kids will always be your kids.''

Brittany Beaver, 20, of Deerfield Beach had her baby son's footprints tattooed onto her back.

"I love the tattoo and will never regret getting it,'' Beaver said. "I look at it now and think, 'Wow his feet were once so little.' ''

The shop, Colorfast Studios in Coral Springs, scanned the footprints, traced them onto special paper and then transferred the image to her shoulder, with her son's date of birth underneath.

She also had her son's name, Jordan, added to a tattoo of a flower on her foot. And as her family grows, so will her tattoos: "Whenever I have another baby, I'll get another tattoo. Maybe that baby's handprints.''

Reality TV shows like Miami Ink and A&E's Inked, as well as celebrity parents, may have helped bring tattoos to the mainstream.

Angelina Jolie's upper arm maps the birthplaces of her children Maddox, Zahara, Shiloh and Pax. Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee's wrists are tattooed with his son's names -- in their own handwriting.

Victoria "Posh Spice'' Beckham has stars for each of her sons on her back, and Johnny Depp has tattoos with the names of his children, Lily-Rose and Jack.

Fashion trends are also playing off rock-'n'-roll style, with colorful and intricate, tattoo-esque designs. Hip mamas are wearing Ed Hardy to Mommy and Me class.

"I've seen a drastic change in the general view of how society views tattoos,'' said Javier Betancourt, a tattoo artist at Ocho Placas in Little Havana who has inked baby feet and baby portraits on moms and dads. "It's just become more acceptable.''

As moms create that permanent fashion statement, they want it to mean something.

"I'd never get a tattoo that you just pick off a board like Woody Woodpecker or something,'' said Jamie Riddle, 20, of Plantation, whose baby daughter's footprints (black with a dark pink outline) adorn her ankle. "It has to be special.''

Kookie Zeno's tattoo is especially precious.

Her son, Salvatore, was born with a cranial facial anomaly. He has endured 18 surgeries in his 8-year life, starting with an operation at 6 months to reconstruct his skull and close a hole in his head. He will continue to have surgeries until he is 21.

Zeno had his 2-year-old portrait tattooed onto her right shoulder.

"His face changes with every surgery,'' Zeno said. "And I wanted that particular picture of him tattooed on me because it was taken before his eyes were symmetrically fixed, and it shows his blue eyes perfectly. He still has an innocent look about him.''

Her husband, Bob, has a tattoo of Salvatore's face at 1 year old.

"He's had so many additional surgeries, and he looks different now,'' she said.

Other moms are celebrating a new era in their lives with tattoos.

Carmen Bosch, 44, of Miami, got married young. At 19, she gave birth to her daughter Jenny Deguzman, who is now 25. Two years later, she had a second daughter, Cynthia, who is now 23.

Recently, Bosch decided to get tattooed with her daughters' names.

"I was a stay-at-home mother, and I devoted my life to my daughters. I drove them to dance class, all of that,'' she said. Then after 23 years of marriage, Bosch went through a messy divorce. "It was rough. I didn't think it would have such an effect on the girls, but it did.''

Earlier this month at Ocho Placas in Little Havana, she had her daughters' names added to her ankle around an existing heart tattoo.

"I am enjoying my life now, doing things I didn't do when I was a young housewife raising my kids. I drive a motorcycle now, and I love tattoos,'' she said. "My daughters and my grandchildren are what I live for.''

Her older daughter came with her to the shop and got her own tattoo: Her kids' initials, intertwined with shooting stars. She likened the experience to giving birth.

"You go through a painful delivery and at the end of the day you get your kids,'' Deguzman said. "Tattoos are forever, just like my love for them will last forever.''

Carmen Bosch, center, gets her daughters' names tattooed onto her ankle. Her daughter, Jenny Deguzman, came along and got tattoos bearing her kids' initials. (PETER ANDREW BOSCH / MIAMI HERALD STAFF)

GETTING INKED

  • Most popular designs among moms: baby footprints, handprints, names and birthdays. Some parents also select Disney characters, butterflies with initials hidden in the wings, teddy bears, hearts, flowers, or stars.
  • Time: A small tattoo can take 20 to 30 minutes and a portrait can take four to six hours to ink.
  • Cost: Prices vary depending on the tattoo's size and detail, but average $75 for a simple name and $250 and up for a portrait.
  • Healing: Most tattoos take two to three weeks to heal. During that time you should not go swimming or expose the tattoo to the sun.
  • Caution: Tattoos are not recommended during pregnancy. Also, make sure the tattoo shop is reputable and has an autoclave, which sterilizes reusable equipment, and has its artists wear latex gloves and use new needles for each customer.
  • Remember: Tattoos are permanent so be sure of the design before the artist starts. Double-check birthday numbers and spellings of names and be sure to consider the location of the tattoo to be sure it does not interfere with a job.
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