Sun Guilt, for the uninitiated, afflicts women (typically mothers) in the summer time, but can also strike in fall or spring. Here’s how it works: The mother (in this case: me) goes about her every day life of attempting to get things done or (in my case), not getting things done. The weather turns nice, say 80 degrees out. That is the precise moment when this insipid disease strikes. The victim will be overcome with remorse at Keeping Her Children Inside on A Nice Day.
Sun Guilt usually strikes in the morning when the most pressing items on the day’s agenda beckon. Things like grocery shopping, returning library books before a 3-figure sum is owed, going to the doctor, mailing a package, and then the home version of Stuff That Needs Doing, like laundry, dishes, and general cleaning up.
I already know it is a beautiful day. I don’t need the clerk at the post office to point that out. This just adds to the Sun Guilt. I succumb to the wide range of symptoms related to the disease. Here are a few of the more prevalent ones:
- Making Excuses: I have a lot to do, and besides, there are a million mosquitoes outside. We will get bitten.
- Trying Not To Think About It: I wonder what the weather is like in the North Pole today.
- Bargaining: We will go outside tomorrow, I promise.
- Comparing Notes: See? There is another mom leaving the library! I’m not the only one! Oh ... she is headed across the street to the park.
- Looking For Alternatives: Maybe it will rain! Then it will be a non-issue.
- Searching For Moral Support: I call The Husband and tell him what’s wrong. (He is very familiar with all my medical condition.) What I want him to say—MOV, don’t obsess about it! You have to get some things done, that’s life. What he does say—MOV, who cares about any of that stuff? I’m stuck at the office so you and the kids should at least get outside and enjoy this great weather. (Side note to The Husband: this is not helpful)
But being outside is what normal people do, people that are intelligent and provide their offspring with happy memories to last a lifetime. After thinking about it way too long, I know that it is a good idea to stay out. If you are familiar with the phrase, “It seemed like a good idea at the time, (but really wasn't)” rest assured this is what they are referring to.
Our situation, as always, devolves fairly quickly. Tall shoves Short (yes, on purpose) into the lone muddy patch at the park and Short retaliates by hitting Tall with a sharp stick, which makes Tall bleed. Of course I have no band-aids with me.
The boys get thirsty quickly, and since this was an impromptu fun activity, I am not adequately prepared which means: I have not brought water bottles with me either. (Do I even need to mention that I forgot sunblock too?) As an added bonus, despite gallons of bug spray--which I miraculously did remember--blanketing 80% of our bodies, approximately 45 minutes later, we are covered in bug bites. We are bruised, bleeding, burnt, and bitten (and don’t forget bitter). Oh, and dehydrated.
Who exactly am I trying to impress, I think, as I splat yet another tiny black bug on my thigh.
That's not all. Oh, no. Sun Guilt has its winter corollary: Snow Guilt. This is the time when Crazy Town looks like a perfect postcard of white, and all I can think is: I’m cold. Why must I go outside in this? What good will come of it? My imagination gets the better of me, and I know in my heart that all the Good Mothers (not me) are making home-made cocoa (not the instant mix from the high-end kitchen store) and taking their children sledding. These mothers take two hours to bundle their children in long johns, turtlenecks, snow suits, hats, mittens, and (oops—Mommy, I need to go to the bathroom right now) scarves. These mothers abandon all the unnecessary distractions of life and embrace the spontaneity of the moment (well, if spontaneity takes two hours to bundle up for) and go frolicking with their babies outside like an LLBean catalog.
It’s just too much pressure, I think, as I search for the remote control.
(As an aside: when I lived in California, I had the exact opposite of Sun Guilt—Sun Nonchalance. Sure, I should go enjoy the sun, but you know what? it will be gorgeous out tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that too. No rush. No need to feel pressured to go out. I can go any time I want.)