Guilt for Mother’s Day


Sweet Pea, untroubled by her burn

I celebrated the tail end of Mother’s Day most appropriately: berating myself while squirming under the weight of extreme guilt. Why, do you ask?

Sweet Pea got a sunburn.

Maternal neglect. Inadequacy. Failure. Holy Cats, Awful Mommy–she’s not even two years old! I became immediately convinced of my daughter’s imminent (or at least definite future) bouts with skin cancer. And this mélange of icky feelings overwhelmed me in a nanosecond as I beheld her little pink elbows and upper thighs.

Such was the result of our camping trip to the aptly named Sun Lakes Resort. For the record: we spent all weekend dutifully slathering Sweet Pea with sunscreen multiple times a day–sunscreen, I might add, that I chose after extensive study of the Environmental Working Group’s website. She had a sun hat, too. But I guess such measures were no match for aggressive UV rays and a toddler on the move.


Do I secretly want to bundle my daughter away, protecting her from any experience that might harm or threaten her? Not exactly. This desire, on my part, is anything but secret. I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that hurt will find my daughter. My best efforts to safeguard her will fail. It’s inevitable. And it’s probably better than wrapping her in cotton and keeping her from life experiences. My lasting impression of this weekend might be a sunburn, but Sweet Pea also got tons of time sand castle building and lake-wading with her cousins.

In the end, I have to believe that’s worth it.

And so, we move on. Well, I move on while shouldering a monster-sized boulder of guilt. I don’t plan on letting go of that Mother’s Day gift any time soon.


One thought on “Guilt for Mother’s Day

  1. Kate, I do like your commonsense attitude. If you want a little guilt abatement encouragement, you might consider that billions of people over hundreds of thousands of years have not used sunscreen with a very small percentage dying from skin cancer. And besides, in 20 years, they will have done more studies and decided sunburns are actually good for you–and 10 years after that, they’ll decide that sunscreen is itself harmful. You can’t win!

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