Why I Refuse to Pierce My Baby’s Ears

We’ve all seen it: a beautiful baby girl, in an equally adorable outfit, with miniature diamond studs in her ears. It’s cute, it’s a baby, what’s not to love? Most people will barely stop to notice the earrings; they’ve become so commonplace today. But if we stop to notice them, we can only come to one conclusion: her parent(s) got her ears pierced.

Let me be clear: I hold absolutely nothing against parents who choose to pierce their children’s ears. I write this today only to express why I, as a parent and a body piercer, won’t be making that same decision.

As a body piercer and tattoo artist, I’ve stuck more needles in people than I could ever count. The youngest person I will pierce (with parental permission and the correct releases) is a 13 year old; and even then, I will only do certain piercings. I also won’t tattoo anyone under 13; and frankly, at that age, if it’s something stupid or inflammatory that I’m 99% sure they’ll regret, I still won’t do it regardless of parental consent. That’s within my rights as the artist; and as an artist I feel that it’s my responsibility to properly guide my clients towards work they’ll love forever (as much as I can anyway) and to steer them away from bad choices. Other than this level of discretion, I love body modification in all it’s various, beautiful forms.

Because of this people close to me have asked me multiples times, “When are you going to pierce your baby’s ears?!” And my answer is always the same, “I’m not.”

My reasoning is simple: it’s her body. Why should I put holes in it without her permission? Because it’s cute? Because “She’s so young she won’t be able to pull them out“? That may very well be true, but who am I to say that she’ll want her ears pierced by the time she’s 13? And if she doesn’t then she’ll be left with scars after years of having her ears pierced when she didn’t choose them. The scars will be tiny, superficial at best; but they’re only one minute part of the problem I have with piercing an infant’s ears. Besides the scarring there’s also the initial pain and fear this practice causes an already emotionally fragile infant in a new world; followed shortly by the risk of infection, keloid formation, lobe tearing, and the choking hazard of the earring itself. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics says a child’s ears shouldn’t be pierced until they can care for them themselves and they don’t recommend ear piercings with a gun (the most common way of doing it) at all because ear piercing guns can’t be sterilized. That’s more than enough for me.

Her being my child doesn’t make her mine to do with as I choose, not in that way. If she needed a surgery to save her life that required me to choose something for her body that would leave a scar, then I would make that choice in a heartbeat. But something cosmetic, that’s done for the sake of being cute whilst having some serious physical risks? That I will not do. And that’s my choice as her parent. Should she want to get her ears pierced later in life then I’ll do it for her, or bring her somewhere to have it done. But it will be her choice for her body.

We live in this day and age where everything is about the outside appearance. And really, what other reason is there to pierce your child’s ears besides it being cute? There isn’t one unless you’re doing it for cultural reasons such as they do in India or Spain. Many parents choose to do it for various reasons; and again, I have no qualms with them. But just like they chose to pierce their baby’s ears, I refuse to pierce my baby’s ears. At least until the day when she asks me to do it herself.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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Every Moment

I stand above this little girl, so peaceful and innocent, with skin that glows in a way that says nothing’s ever touched it. I watch her breathe in and out, hear the noises she makes in her sleep, and I think of a time when she was nothing but a dream. She was never supposed to exist, at least not without lots of medication, months of tracking schedules, years and years of waiting. Yet here she is, in the flesh, so full of love and happiness. She’s my little miracle, life’s greatest gift.

I’ll never forget the day that little plus sign turned blue, the disbelief in my veins, the look of shock on my face. I’ll never forget the first time I heard her heart beat, fast like a hummingbird, strong like a hoofbeat. I’ll never forget the night I first felt her kick, so subtle I almost missed it, but so monumental. I was so in tune with every little change. I embraced every moment, loved every single day. Even now, as I watch her dream in her sleep, I still miss when we were one, her growing in my belly.

But not a thing in this world, matches the love and peace I feel, when I watch my baby sleep like the world is standing still. I catalogue every second, snapshots in my head. I’ll memorize every moment, from her birth until my death. I don’t want to forget a thing, any step on this journey. Because the best thing I’ve been, is this little girl’s mommy.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Possible Again

I sat back today and watched him play with his kids, just wild and free, so full of love and life. It was like one of those perfect pictures that bullshit romance novels paint: Dad playing with the older kids in the yard, dogs running around enjoying the freedom, mom a few paces away holding the baby, feeling blessed, laughing wholeheartedly at the people she loves playing without a care in the world. It was perfect. And foreign.

It reminded me of a time when I still believed in white picket fences and happy endings. When families weren’t the people you were trying to become the exact opposite of. He reminds me of when I still believed in true love. When “forever” meant forever and wasn’t just a false promise used as a bandaid over another bullet hole. He makes me feel special again, like maybe people really can love each other for all that they are. He makes me think that fall evenings spent sitting on the front porch watching the kids play in the yard are possible. Like nights spent cuddled up on the couch actually talking to each other, not just existing in the same room, are real.

I’ve always had a habit of ignoring the warning signs. I’m not one of those women who can’t see them, I can always see them. But I would convince myself that I could work around them; when in my heart of hearts, I always knew when and how a relationship would fail.

I don’t have that here.

Everything is still so new and yet, I can’t see anyone else after him. I feel like I’ve finally come home after years of living in some alternate reality nightmare and all the sudden the world is an endless sea of possibility and happiness again. Everything makes sense again. It’s like I finally woke up and everything I once dreamed was possible actually is. Ask anyone who knows me well enough and they’ll tell you they’ve heard me say “Forever is a fucking lie we tell each other to hide from the pain that we know will always be inevitable.” And I said it because I believed it. I don’t know what that says about me… or the people who’ve supposedly “loved me” before, but I know that I believed it. That forever only meant “until this ends in a three ring shit show circus”, or “until I get bored and you get sick of who I am”, or at best, “until we fall apart because people can’t survive all the ups and downs of life together”.

But I don’t believe that now…

I actually believe I could sit back and watch the kids play and grow and evolve for the rest of time with him. I can see fitting into the crook of his body for every night of the rest of our lives. And that’s insane, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it be? It doesn’t feel like it is, or should be. I have always trusted my gut above anything and anyone else and everything I say now is coming from my gut, not some lust drunk, fantasy induced place in my head. I don’t see anyone else after him. I don’t have any “I wonder how long this will last” thoughts. I never wanted to believe in someone this much, ever again. I was completely unwilling to give one more person what I saw as being “too much power over me” ever again. I loudly refused to ever start over or try again.

Then he happened…

And now loving families, and crisp fall evenings, and white picket fences, and even happy endings, are all possible again. And I tell myself that I should be terrified…

But, I’m not.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

A Child’s Pain

This strange thing happens when you become a parent; at least for me it did. Every time I see someone hurt a child, hear a story about someone’s baby dying, or see something on the news about something that happened to a kid in some far corner of the country, I immediately think of my daughter. This thought then leads to a shudder or rage, fear or a sick feeling in my stomach, a visceral reaction to the thought of one of these things happening to my baby; or to any baby at all. 

I haven’t been a parent for long, but so far, the thing that bothers me the most is knowing that I won’t be able to save this amazing little girl from all the pain the world often throws at us. I can’t take every hit for her; and even if I could, I would only be robbing her of the opportunity to build her own strength. But the mother in me doesn’t care. It just wants to protect. I want her to have the strength and resiliency I have; but I would die to save her from the pain that I gained it through. My child will never endure some of the things I had to; but that doesn’t change the fact that she’ll have pains all of her own. And if it makes me sick and angry to see a little girl in a movie get hurt because her mother treats her poorly, then I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel the first time I see my little girl in pain. The thought of her hurting and me not being able to fix it keeps me up at night. 

However, I still refuse to shelter her from the real world too much. I will protect her like any mother should protect her young; but I won’t make her naive, and I won’t deny her the right to build her own strength. She’ll have to live and learn just like I did, whether I like it or not. But I have a feeling it will be much harder for me to watch her do that than it ever was to survive the things I’ve been through.

If only we lived in a world with no pain…

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

It’s A Shame

I always admired your ability to set your mind to something and actually attain it. I’ve never seen someone turn such a low salary into so much. Self control. When it came to money, budgeting, working a job you hated, you were a master. You have this unbelievable ability to say “no” to yourself, especially for an ex-junkie. And I truly admired that, mostly because I’ve never been very good at it. 

You’d get this tunnel vision for what you wanted. Me, then the apartment, the promotion, the Army. Next came the new job, the mortgage, the house. One thing after the next; you set your mind to these things and you got them all. But your superpower had a catch. Among your many other character defects, you were never able to focus on more than one thing at a time. Remember, “tunnel vision”. 

And really, it’s a shame. Because now you have your nice, new job. You’re on your way to being a soldier. You close on your beautiful home tomorrow. You have a pink room for both your daughters, one of them being ours… But in attaining all of these things, you forgot about us. And so you will move to your new house alone. You will learn just how deafening silence can be. You will experience loneliness in all of its unique agony. And really, it’s a shame. Because I would have given you forever. Had you only been kind and respectful. Had you paid us just a little bit more attention. Had you just heard me everytime you asked me what I wanted and my answer was “emotional support”. Had you only noticed that the woman sitting next to you was slowly disappearing, her spirit decaying living a life of cohabitation. Partners aren’t supposed to just coexist; they’re supposed to live life together. And in trying to build that life, you forgot about the people you were doing it for. 

My heart breaks for you. I never would’ve wished this on you. Ever. My heart breaks for me. I never wanted this. I wanted our family. I wanted our life. I wanted the man I fell in love with. But you lost him somewhere. And when you lost him, you lost me. My heart breaks for our daughter; because she deserves so much better than us; and she’s not even getting “us”. I will always give her everything I have to give. But I wanted us to do that, together. 

Really, it’s a shame. 

And forever is a lie. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Ask Me Anything Monday

This is a little fun exercise I used to do last year that fell into obscurity between working and being pregnant. Soooo, I’m giving it a shot again. If you’re interested, ask away 🙂 

Submit any questions, queries, or random wonderings you may have! 🙂 As always, it can be a personal question about me or my life or it can be completely random. And I promise to answer it as completely and honestly as I can! There are no rules or limitations. Let’s go! 
Much love,

Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Fuck The Rules

Since having my daughter I have discovered that there are more rules about how to raise your children than I ever thought possible. How to and to not feed them, when and what to feed them, how to “train” them to sleep, how to burp them, when to start the “cry it out” method (that’s if you’re not one of the “momsters” who think this is akin to child abuse). Everything in the world has been regulated, researched, and written within an inch of its life. It’s fucking ridiculous! So… my idea… is to fuck the rules..

Here is a non-comprehensive list of everything I do wrong as a mom; because, fuck the rules.  I mentioned “momsters” above; these are the women who are convinced they know everything about parenting, and have no problem telling you everything you’re doing wrong. They’re the people who deprive their children of syrup on their pancakes because “it’s messy”, the ones who get mad at kids for moving too much or making too much noise or you know, being kids. They are the all-seeing, all-knowing, helicopters moms of the blogosphere and world. They lie in wait, anticipating showering you with shame because you dared to be different or..*dun, dun, dun* an actual parent. Well momsters, this post is for you: take a Valium and a deep breath. I’m about to shit all over your world…

1. NEVER PROP THE BOTTLE

Lady, I can prop a bottle like a motherfuckin’ boss. Wanna know why? Because mama needs two hands and Bebe eats every 3 hours like she’s starving to death. I can hear the momsters now: “But you’ll drown your baby! She’ll die you monster!” Honey, let me tell you, if you’re child isn’t capable of turning her head to the side or spitting out a nipple with the same defiance she spits out her binkie, then that is Darwinism at work. I’m sure somewhere out there there’s some heartbreaking story about a mom who drowned her baby with a bottle but let’s be honest, it would be one of very few (and she probably “propped” with duct tape). I make sure to prop Bebe’s bottle with something soft, like a blanket, so if she turns her head even the slightest bit or tries to spit it out, it comes right out. The worst thing that happens is her shirt gets wet; and guess what? You can wash those. And I get to actually drink cup of coffee while it’s hot (shocker right?!).

2. NEVER GIVE BABY A BLANKET

Seriously? What is this, Auschwitz? I understand that your child can suffocate in a pile of blankets but it is possible to keep your child warm without that happening. Currently, Bebe sleeps in a rock and play because it’s still relatively flat but it’s angled enough to help her with her reflux and I’ve found a way to let her sleep with a blanket where it doesn’t end up piled on top of her perfect little face (sorry, mini mom gush). Before I put her in the rock and play I lay a small blanket down in the basket with a little bit hanging off the bottom edge. Then I place her in and fold the bit of blanket at the bottom up over her little body. It comes up to her nipples, keeps her warm, and doesn’t suffocate her. And guess what? Warm babies sleep longer bitches! Everybody wins!

3. CLEAN THE PACIFIER WITH…

The sheer amount of things sold for cleaning pacifiers is appalling. Pacifier spray, pacifier soap, pacifier wipes. Seriously? For generation upon generation my family has cleaned their pacifiers with two things: water and mouths. Where my germaphobes at? Are you dying yet? I bet you are you little hand sanitizer toting mother fucker, you. I watched my mom do it so many times… the binkie drops, she picks it up, pops it in her mouth, and then pops it in the baby’s. And you know what? Nothing bad has ever happened. Hell, probably builds up the immune system. Now don’t get me wrong; if i drop the nuk in a rest stop bathroom, I’m using soap. But the parents who go full throttle because it hit the counter in the kitchen or the carpet in the nursery need to fucking relax! I promise, your child will be okay. We ate dirt and drank out of garden hoses and we’re fine. Anymore these days the food we eat is giving us cancer and you’re worried about your baby’s binkie touching a floor that you clean more often than your underwear? Get your shit straight. Plus science says that exposure to the microbial environment benefits children in a multitude of ways including, but not limited to: reduced allergies, heightened immunity, and lowered occurences of eczema and asthma. Science wins. Period.

4. “SHHH… THE BABY’S SLEEPING!!”

NO! That’s a hard no. Do you know what happens when you make everyone tiptoe and whisper every time the baby’s sleeping? You end up with a baby who sleeps like shit. Yeah, good joke universe. I’ll be the first one to request everyone be a little quieter (i.e., not silent, but not screaming) when the baby has just fallen asleep and I’m trying to transfer her from my arms to her rock and play without waking her; but the rest of the time? It’s a normal noise level for my little one. I wanted to be able to do the dishes, listen to music, and walk normally when my child was sleeping so I did all those things while she was sleeping from the very beginning. From the day she came home we made the same amount of noise as we always had. As a result, my girl sleeps like a rock. As I typed that my mom rang the doorbell, causing her two golden retrievers to start barking like maniacs within 7 feet of my sleeping child’s head. She didn’t even flinch; and yes, her hearing is perfect. I’ve met children whose parents kept a silent household while they slept; and to this day, nap time and bedtime rule their households. They can’t have visitors, they can’t get chores done, they can’t talk at a normal level; their lives are controlled by an 8-20 pound tyrant with poor sleeping habits. My child is the light of my life but her sleep time is my free time and I’ll be goddamned if silence is a required part of that.

5. NEVER SAY “NO”!!

I actually read an article that said to never tell your child “no” because it’s “too harsh for your little prince/princess”. Are you fucking kidding me?! Now I can understand using more explanatory sentences such as “Please don’t do that or you may hurt yourself”; BUT sometimes a child needs to hear a quick, concrete “NO”. There seems to be this new-age parenting belief that telling your child “no” will make them lose faith and confidence in you and that it makes them feel as if their lives are limited. This is bullshit! I’m sorry but we were told “no” quite often as children and it made us respect our parents; not to mention, it sometimes when executed in a swift and sudden manner, saved our lives. The parent is the authority figure and no means no; not “I’ll give you ____________ if you do what you should be doing anyway”, and not “No until you whine so much that I cave.” No. There’s no reason you can’t explain the reason for the no after the child has stopped the undesirable behavior; but trying to calmly explain why a child should stop something when they’re neck-deep in it rarely works out. Stop the behavior, then explain.

Building your child’s respect in you takes time and it isn’t always easy but this watered down version of parenting that has become the norm today is not making our children better, smarter, or more confident. In fact, research has shown that children now are more cocky but have less actual self-esteem because they’re constantly told how amazing they are when they haven’t actually earned it and they aren’t given enough opportunities to build themselves up. Helicopter parents have stopped their children from trying things (like monkey bars or contact sports) that they could work at and succeed in, thereby creating real confidence in themselves. And momsters everywhere are demanding other parents raise their children how they do, in whatever way the latest fad demands; and more times than not, the only purpose this serves is to create even more entitled, bravado filled, demanding little brats. Sometimes you have to give and take with your child to get them to listen with the least amount of friction, I get that. But if we’re constantly bribing our children do what they should be doing in the first place then all we’re teaching them is that 1. They’re the ones really in control and 2. They deserve rewards for doing what they’re supposed to instead of something that requires an actual effort. And then we wonder why they’re so entitled? Jesus! My generation has traded in good old-fashioned parenting for bartering, bribing, begging, and conceding. So to that, I say FUCK NO. The better way is not always the easiest way; but it is what’s best for our kids and that is our fucking job: to do what’s best for our kids! I choose to parent my child in the way that I see fit, the way that works for us, regardless of what that article on parenting.com says is best. I believe in keeping my child safe, healthy, and loved. I also love her being happy; but it is my job to be her parent, not her friend (at least until she’s adult). And sometimes being a parent means that your child is not always happy. But if you do a good job, at least you won’t raise a raging doucehbag. I leave you with this..

“If you’ve never pissed your child off, you’re probably not doing your job.”

ashley thingy 2

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017