I have no memories of having my ears pierced. My family has very limited memories too.
Was I four days old or did they wait as long as a week? Maybe that was my cousin? I’m pretty sure they were pierced in the kitchen as soon as we got home from the hospital. Or maybe that was my cousin again? Did grandma pierce my ears? No, it was definitely done by a nurse. Probably.
No one really knows. Either way, my mother made sure to have my ears pierced at her earliest convenience because that’s what good moms do. Avoid the drama, pierce them young, and diligently clean the piercing to avoid infections. Bonus points go out to the good Catholic mothers who had their little girl’s earrings blessed–that’s how we avoid infections, right? Holy water is an antibacterial solution.
When my husband and I were pregnant with our first, and we found out we were having a little girl, we had been gifted the cutest little baby girl earrings from family members. So cute! And they weren’t the only pair we got either. We had a few different pairs of little baby girl earrings to choose from. That’s what family does, right? You’re having a girl? Here are some earrings for her. So. Stinking. Cute.
Realistically I knew having her earrings blessed wouldn’t prevent infections. I wasn’t about to have her ears pierced in the kitchen by a relative and I already asked our pediatrician about having her ears pierced in the hospital by a nurse or something (no luck). The best advice we got was to wait until she had her shots and then to have her ears pierced somewhere sterile and reputable. At about 6 or so weeks we had her ears pierced. That’s what good moms do for their little girl. Or so I thought.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that apparently infant ear piercings are NOT something “good moms” do because it’s considered child abuse. WHAT?! Oh no! It’s not like that at all. I am a good mom. My daughter isn’t being abused, I promise. The scoldings I received from other mothers were brutal. While not every mother was accusing me of child abuse, other moms would make off-handed remarks like, “Oh well, I just wouldn’t want her to be traumatized for life and need therapy.” Yikes. Was I really such a bad mom?
Evidently what responsible moms actually do is wait to pierce their girl’s ears until they are old enough to decide for themselves: “Didn’t you know that, Nicole? Mothers cannot make a permanent, life-changing decision for their daughter like that. Ever.”
Ever? I thought? But, I chose her name! That’s pretty permanent. I chose where she lives. When the time comes I will choose where she goes to school. I will choose what traditions we practice. I will choose how many siblings she grows up with. I’m the one with the authority to set limitations on what is acceptable and unacceptable in our family. She is my daughter, after all; and I am her mother.
Being accused of child abuse within the first 3 months of my daughter’s life is not exactly how I expected my new mother phase to go down, but there it is. It has taken me a while to come to terms with what happened when confronted by mothers who think they know better. Turns out parents like that are everywhere. Literally everywhere. You veteran parents know this well. I’m still learning how to better handle those confrontations.
Here’s the thing–I completely understand why a mother would choose to wait to have her daughter’s ears pierced. You have to clean them yourself regularly. The baby girl will almost certainly cry. And what if they are pierced lopsided? I get it. There is a lot of good rationale for waiting until the girl is old enough to comprehend what’s happening.
So why didn’t I wait? For starters, my family didn’t. It’s hard to know what family practices to question until someone questions them. Second, piercing her ears before her little hands could find the earrings on the side of her head meant she couldn’t mess with them and irritate them any further. She also had no hair in the way to get caught on her earrings. I could more easily wrestle her down to clean the earrings out and inspect them. It was easier for me to be in charge of her earrings while she was still little enough for me to manage. Now she’s older. I can’t even brush her hair without a fight.
To the moms out there who heard me out and said, “That makes sense why you’d pierce her ears. But I still wouldn’t.” You’re my heroes. You’re the ones who built me back up after those accusing me of child abuse had torn me down. It’s a pretty harsh accusation, don’t you think? Especially for a new mom. Thanks to the moms out there who build each other up even when we parent differently
It took me longer than I care to admit to find my “mom voice” and tell people off for thinking they can govern my household or ignore them altogether. My daughter is now 3.5 and never did we ever get an infection (maybe it was the holy water!)
In fact, for her 3rd birthday, we let her pick out new earrings to replace the ones she wore as an infant. She chose the cutest little opal earrings. See? I am a good mom. She definitely had a choice and she loves her “birthday earrings.”
What’s more? We had another baby in June; you guessed it, another girl! And we already had her earrings picked out. Because that’s what we do in our family.