I was mad at my dad and so I pierced my nose, but not without asking the kids first. Rosie just sighed and said it didn’t matter—I was going to do it whether she liked it or not. Ian agreed under two conditions: that I let him watch and that I promised to remove it upon the birth of his own child one day. He didn’t want his kid to get the wrong idea—that nose piercing was okay.
It worked for a little while, my sparkling diamond stud of defiance, helping me feel less like a daughter and a mom and more like me. I needed some breathing room while I got my bearings. When Rosie was born, I became a mom but remained a daughter, my parenting guided by a road atlas that my parents tossed to me on the car trip across my childhood. Even now I sometimes find myself down a road I didn’t choose, but know by heart like the bedtime prayer Mom whispered with me.
Glancing in the rearview mirror a few weeks ago, I noticed the nose stud and realized I no longer needed it. I love my dad and kids and there’s room for me inside that love. Unconditional parental love pierces, too, cracking hearts wide open to the present moment of possibilities. I might not need a map. Just a willingness to loosen my grip on the steering wheel and trust that Grace will guide me. Regardless, I don’t want to give my kids the wrong idea—that it’s okay to navigate our lives with maps from the past. Nose pierced or not, we always have the freedom to roll down the windows, turn up the music, and sing together at the top of our lungs.
Written by Gwen Thomas