Childrearing

I Used To Hate Summertime Until I Had Children

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Hating Summer VacationDecades later, the memory is still fresh. The year is 1983 and we are at the beach on a beautiful summer’s day. All of the other kids are delightfully running towards the ocean. Except for me. I had to wait a few more minutes. Because my mom wasn’t done. She had just finished slathering tons of sunscreen on the first half of my body, now it was time for the other half. I glared at the other kids with envy. Why was I the only one who had to withstand this torture? To add insult to injury, I was wearing the number “20”, which was the highest possible protection at the time. I was a redhead with fair skin and freckles. I really hated this. Mostly, I hated being me.

Years later, as I grew into a teenager, I remained jealous. My fellow young women, the ones with the beautiful “normal skin”, were now tanning. They were covered in baby oil. I still had my sunscreen on. By the19 90’s, the number had increased to “50”. That was my preferred one. If I went out in daylight without it, I was sure to burn. It is not that I didn’t try. I did my share of “sunbathing”. Except my version of sunbathing produced blistered skin and more freckles. I was convinced I could break down the barrier; that once I burned a few times it would eventually turn into a tan. And that I would be just like everybody else. I often told my mom who scoffed at the idea. She told me how I would need to get used to my fair skin as tanning was not something that would ever happen for me. She would then add how special it was to be a redhead and how anyone would kill for my hair color. I tried to listen the first 100 times, but the same speech was getting tired. All I would hear was a bunch of blah blah blahs. I was your typical stubborn kid.

It didn’t seem like this whole summer thing was for me. I did summer camp a few times and hated it. Painfully shy and physically awkward, I was never much of a participator. I didn’t feel as strong and fast as the other kids. Just the thought of having to join an organized sport gave me an instant panic attack. I was always afraid I would ruin the game due to my physical inadequacies. I would have rather just been by myself. For me, summer magnified the fact that I often felt like a failure. And that I didn’t belong. Mostly, I didn’t like that I was different.

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10 Comments

  1. Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

    July 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Coming into motherhood, I brought a whole host of insecurities. But I gained (in addition to my kiddos) a true acceptance of myself. I did not really enjoy being pregnant, but there was a definite feeling of, “My body can do this, I am powerful” in the process that has carried over. Traits that I hated on myself show up in my kids and are–as you’ve said–beautiful. The personal transformation has astounded me at points.

    Another beautiful piece. Thanks.

  2. middleofnowheremom

    July 23, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I have dark hair, and a darker complexion, and all three of my children are blondes with extremely fair skin. The joke at our house is that all they have to do is look out the window and they will break into a sweat or sunburn. We are a minimum of SPF 50 at our house, or 75 if possible. That being said, it’s mindboggling how the traits that we don’t like in ourselves, are amazing and beautiful and one-of-a-kind in our children. Loved this article!

  3. Lilly

    July 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    I can commiserate with the freckles instead of a tan — I laugh now because on my back I basically have a permanent “tan” line from where there are and are not freckles. I have noticeable white stripes from swimsuit straps that are feckless, whereas the rest is pretty evenly fully freckled.

    It is weird though with my son as he definitely has more of my husband’s skin colouring (Caucasian but with a touch of Mediterranean olive tone — so prone to nice tanning), but I am still so ingrained with the idea of suncreen always (‘cuz that’s how it is for me) that I probably overdo it with him.

  4. LadyClodia the Modest Rat

    July 23, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    This is a wonderfully written piece, Kathleen!

    Summer and I are still enemies. I know I’m doing my boys a disservice by not embracing summer, but I haven’t been able to do it. And it’s not so much about my insecurities and more my intense dislike of summer. When I broke my ankle last summer I didn’t miss being able to go outside.

  5. momma425

    July 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    As a kid, I was CONVINCED that our next door neighbor woman was a witch who cast a spell on me and caused freckles and fair skin. Nobody else in my family has as fair skin as me. My sister looks exactly like me except for the freckles. I was horrified and I hated them.

    At some point, as an adult, I have grown to love my freckles. I think they make me look younger, and I wear makeup less often because you can’t see my freckles as much with it on. As much as I envy those who tan instead of burn- I’m beginning to notice more lines and wrinkles on friends who have skipped the sunscreen for years. Ha- I will be a bright white old lady but at least I will have fewer wrinkles!

    That’s the beauty of kids. We love them and their attributes, and we GAVE them those attributes- by default, we have to be more loving and accepting of ourselves. And our partners. I dislike my daughter’s dad very much, but when I look at her, I see long eyelashes and adorable outie belly button and the fact that she is left handed- all things she got from her dad. I don’t hate him, because he was part of creating the beautiful little person who I love more than myself.

  6. Jamie

    July 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I had a comment based on the title alone-I hate summer more now that I have kids, because they force me to go outside (I’m an albino, so the sun and I are NOT friends!) AND I can’t drink like I used to in order to deal with the bugs and the heat! But the article was lovely-I love seeing what traits my daughter has inherited from various family members. My favorite is that she has the same coloring and similar mannerisms as her older sister-who is not biologically related to her at all! (My husband adopted my stepdaughter when he married her mom.)

  7. guest

    July 23, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    As a fellow freckle-face I really enjoyed this article. I for some reason was able to tan quite a bit as a kid but I’m white as a ghost as an adult. I like my freckles now that I’ve grown into them and they aren’t everywhere – most likely since I’m not constantly in the sun.
    I appreciate any article where a mom overcomes herself to make a point of having fun with her children..be it pasty skin, strech marks, being overweight etc. I never want my kids to miss out on fun stuff because I’m in the corner feeling self conscious.

  8. WhoremonalCrazyLotusSlugalo

    July 24, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Kathleen, I’m so saddened by your loss, but what a wonderful woman…wonderful mother you are.

    As a freckle-face myself with a freckly son, I like to encourage him with freckle wisdom: Your pubescent friends will never know when you have pimples. 😀

  9. Corinne Afton

    July 24, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Yes, I do agree that summer is more fun if you have kids around you. Seeing their smiles are the best gift you could ever receive. But when we are on travel remember to always makes them safe. You can use comfortable car seat from http://www.mycarseats.com/

  10. Kathleen Sullivan

    July 25, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    I didn’t realize how many “freckle sisters” I had. We are pretty unique and special. I had an aunt who called them “Kisses from God.” Lol. A little corny but it did stick with me as a kid.

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