A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

I love to learn people’s stories – to find out what brought them to all the moments in time that led to the present. As parents, I think it’s particularly important for us to listen to these stories as a way to understand each other.

Parenting is hard and we’re all trying to do the best for our families – including earning money to take care of ourselves and our children. This is the third in a three-part series (read part one and two to catch up!) that tells the story of parents with unique jobs – the kind that may make you wonder: How did they end up there and how does that work? 

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”Steven R. Covey

Eric Henshaw is listening to understand. His inner voice is loud. His teenage daughter gives him both noisy and quiet information to digest. His clients freely give him personal details over the sound of the tattoo gun. But the co-owner of Yankee Tattoo, a single father of one, will only reply after an attempt to understand what is being said.

He’s a thoughtful, large, long-bearded man, who seems to quietly remind himself to pause before he speaks. With artwork permanently covering most of his exposed skin, Eric looks the exact opposite of most dads you see on the playground or at PTO meetings. But if your intent is to understand, if you really listen, you can’t help but be moved by his big laugh and the gushing pride he has for his daughter – or the lessons he’s teaching her by learning them himself.

“I knew I would always be a non-traditional earner.”

Eric grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts, taking the bus into Boston as a kid, sharpening his street smarts and gaining his sense of self. He realized pretty early on that he would be a “non-traditional earner.”

Eric’s parents divorced shortly after he was born. He lived with his dad for a few years while growing up, and it was his father, also a tattoo artist, who showed him how to turn his artwork into something that would last a lifetime. When Eric was 13, he placed his first tattoos on his father and uncle, but didn’t take on his father’s passion until later. After traveling and tattooing customers along “the circuit” from New England to Alaska, Bill Henshaw wanted to start a business. It was then that he asked his son for help.

In the fall of 1996, Eric moved to Burlington, Vermont to open a tattoo shop with his dad, Bald Bill. Twenty years later, Yankee Tattoo is more than a business. It’s a sanctuary, a brick and mortar heartbeat; a well-loved and respected studio. For 14 years running, Yankee Tattoo has been named by fans and readers as Burlington’s best place to get body art in the coveted Seven Daysies awards.

Eric has always been artistic took several general art classes, but drawing is something that came easily. He transfers that ability onto his clients on a daily basis. Eric can tattoo one person all day or see several clients a day, depending on what his schedule holds and the amount of time he allots for time in the shop. His work extends beyond normal business hours, though. From client sketches to managing the shop’s supplies and employee payroll, Eric often feels the pinch of being a business owner and a parent.

He isn’t home at the same time every day. On some days, he needs to bring work home with him – and time off is rare. Providing a service means he needs to be available to his clients when it’s convenient for them. “The tricky thing about this business and parenting and vacation is that when people have time off, that’s when they want to get work done,” Eric explains. Holiday weekends, school breaks, and summer vacation months are busy times for Eric and unfortunately don’t allow him the luxury of spending as much time with his daughter as he would like when she is also out of school.

“You reap what you sow.”

Eric has been a single dad since his daughter, Lily, was three. For the last 13 years, the two of them have navigated life as an undeterred team, changing and growing individually, but always coming back together. While it can be hard to relate to a teenager, Eric and his daughter share a love of archery. When Lily was nine she and her dad were watching a reality show about marksmen and she was impressed with someone shooting a bow and arrow. Eric told her he could show her how to shoot and she didn’t believe him.

Eric’s dad had shown him how to shoot arrows, guns, and throw knives for accuracy, but Lily wanted proof. Eric was once a competitive rifle shooter, but he didn’t want to put a gun in a young child’s hands, so he took her to a local archery range.

Lily is now a nationally ranked archer and is a much better shot than her dad, but when asked if she will continue, he said he won’t push her. It’s something special that they share, and he has asked her to practice more, but it’s also something she needs to pursue in her own way. “I’m not going to lean on her,” he says.

She knows what effort will get her, but she needs to want it as much as he wants it for her.

“This job has shaped the way I parent. I’ve only had one kid. And I had an idea about the way parenting is supposed to be. Coming to the shop, and dealing with people every single day, really was a big motivator for me to [realize] I could yell at her, I could make her do this and that, I could do the 9 to 5 thing, but life isn’t about that. People can say no. People can not do something. We’re all human beings, but you have to accept it. You reap what you sow.”

After 20 years of being a tattoo artist, he has heard many stories, some heartbreaking, some triumphant, and some that point blame to someone else. But Eric has listened and learned from these stories. He’s taught his daughter that if she messes up, she is responsible for her actions and her decisions. “Accountability. You’re either going to do that and get that, or not do that and not get that. You have to be accountable to yourself. You do your best. We all do the best we can.”

He knows it’s a tough lesson to teach, but hopes that someday she will understand and appreciate his words. He also knows that doing what he does for a living has taught his daughter that people can be judgmental. From a very young age, Lily saw the way people looked at her dad. He said it never changed who they are as a family, but illustrated a harsh truth that shouldn’t have to be learned.

“People expect people to look certain ways.”

When asked if Lily thinks what he does for a living is cool, Eric did not hesitate to say yes. He knows she’s proud of him. And he knows she loves him. But he also knows that his status as a known and popular tattoo artist has a good and bad side. Some of Lily’s classmates think Eric is pretty awesome; the ones who don’t know him or her and choose not see beyond the long hair and tattoos will pick. “They’re kids. It doesn’t bother me,” Eric says.

But he knows it can affect his daughter. And he’s given her the green light to stick up for herself. He taught her that she doesn’t need to feel defined by what other people think or say she is.

He admits that some teachers and parents have preconceived notions about what kind of dad he is or what home life is like for his daughter, but it’s another lesson he’s absorbed and tried to teach to his daughter in a way that builds her up without letting down her faith in humanity.

“I kind of figured quite a while ago, not by accident, that people expect people to look certain ways. It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing a suit or a tie; there is a preconceived idea of what kind of person I am. There is always going to be those people who aren’t ever satisfied unless you’re like them,” Eric says. 

Eric referenced the many times he’s been in airports, on his way to teach classes about bloodborne pathogens and tattoo safety to other tattoo artists. When wearing a business suit or tie, he was often stopped, as if he was hiding something. So he got fed up and began to pack his suit, wearing jeans and t-shirts through security to give the TSA officers the image they wanted. He knew he was smart, professional, and had nothing to hide but he didn’t need clothing or anyone else to validate that.

He stopped traveling a few years ago after a couple of times he wished he had been home when his daughter needed him; nothing happened to cause major alarm, but they were scary reminders of the other stereotypes people place on him as a single dad.

“As a single parent, it is hard to leave your kid. It’s one of those sacrifices [she] won’t see. In this day and age, it’s pretty rare for a dad to get full custody, so it may not really be true, but I’m never going to take that the risk. I was always concerned about that one thing happening, and somebody being like, ‘Nope,’ and that would be it. I would lose it if someone took my kid.”

The only thing Eric wants to lose is the stigma that seems to accompany tattoos and the people who wear them. But he quietly knows his role as the long-haired, tattooed artist, and single dad. And if your intent is to understand his role, he will speak of it loud and clear.

“The one good thing about this job is that we meet a ton of people, so we radically change their perception, fast. And then that gets around.”

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.


A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

You might also like:


[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

You might also like:


[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.