I was enjoying an episode of “Modern Family” on the television. It was the episode where Claire and Haley were fumbling up the process of getting matching mother daughter tattoos (yes some alcohol as involved). Thoughts of my eldest (my typical learning) daughter surfaced. Thinking how much fun, however highly unlikely, it would be to get matching mother daughter tattoos. As Emily lives an 1.5 hour away from us, like any good mom, I texted her and suggested it. As one does. She texted back saying “Let’s do it!”. Funny joke I thought.
For fun we started a mother daughter Pinterest board. We came up with a variety of sassy, sappy, cool and lovely tattoos ranging from style to body placement. All in fun I thought. When suddenly I realized that hey maybe we were serious.
Turns out we were serious and we planned to go ahead. Now to find the perfect design. Then Emily found it. “Ohana”. Hawaiian word for family. Our family has been to Hawaii a number of times and we love it there. The people, the climate, the relaxed accepting atmosphere makes us feel at home in Hawaii so to have a Hawaiian word as our tattoo seemed very fitting.
In depth the word Ohana is more than blood family. It extends to connections that are intentional, and that members are bound together, must cooperate and remember one another. Disney’s “Lilo and Stitch” brought it to another level saying “Ohana – no one gets left behind or forgotten”. Your tribe. Your people.
This was the perfect tattoo for us. Beyond the obvious meaning that we love our family the idea that Hannah will one day need additional Ohana. That her Ohana will need to be beyond blood family. We will not be here forever to care for her. One day her community of people, her Ohana will be more paid workers than not. That is so difficult for any special needs parent to wrap their minds around but it is a reality.
As we designed our tattoo I knew I was going to be super. fussy. on what was tattooed on my body. Super. fussy. We found a local artist to come up with a page of fonts of “Ohana” and together we chose one! #Maehandmade
The idea that in our family no one gets left behind is a constant. We are constantly trying to ensure that Hannah can join in whatever we do. We are trying to modify activities, or trying to find outings that would be suitable or at least attainable for her or find little snippets of activities that she would enjoy within our activity. Her idea of fun is very different than ours. So in keeping with ‘not leaving her behind’ and knowing a tattoo was not an option for I found a jewelry maker on Etsy to take our design and make a bracelet for her. (Byron got a golf towel). We are the Ohana family! (But Emily and I are the coolest!).
The day of the tattoo appointment came. Now yes I had heard that these things can hurt but really my mind was so preoccupied that holy shit we were getting a tattoo and that the design be perfect I kind of forgot about the pain. Emily said it didn’t hurt as bad and I thought it hurt way more! Right on the bone.
We were thrilled with the end result and that now, according to the tattoo artist. (a fellow ABA dad) we were a part of a ‘club’. I did feel a little bad ass the rest of the day.
This morning we together with some of Hannah’s school staff, our family service worker and the staff at her new adult day program met for a transitional meeting. Here we discussed Hannah history, our dreams for her, our nightmare that we would never want to see, her strengths, and goals with timelines. We had the opportunity to write on a sticky note and place on the board a word to describe “Who is Hannah?” Personable, responsive, fun, loves to tease, friendly, loving, sassy, someone who makes me smile, loving, teacher. These are just some of the words her current people had for her. It swells my heart to see these words written by beyond Byron and myself. (In all honesty ‘sassy’ was up there a few times!)
This is the first step in a stage of life that will perhaps see her to the end of her life (if she stays in Altona). Now I’m not really going there … just a knowing that no matter how hard we try we are not immortal for our special needs kids. That one day we will have to hand over the reigns to others. We hope she will always have love in her life, safety and that she will feel she belongs somewhere. Don’t we all want this beautiful Ohana?