Mr. Golden Sun June 22 2013

There is something about the sun. I gravitate to it. It centers me when I need to be aligned. Aside from the natural warmth it provides my body, it also warms my soul. As a child of the 70’s I grew up spending summer days riding bikes, playing in the park, picking wild mushrooms and berries, splashing in creeks, boating at the lake, surfing in the ocean, and doing anything else that kept me outside.  As a teenager of the 80’s I lathered myself in Crisco or baby oil and made it my summer mission to find every dark surface and attract as much violent sun exposure as possible. As a bride of the 90’s, I paid many dollars to multiple salons to bake myself in tanning beds for hours leading up to my wedding.  What bride wouldn’t want to look “radiant” with a radioactive glow in a beautiful white wedding gown? I now know that was wrong and have a certain crinkle to my skin that I shouldn’t have at this age. When my kids hold my hands, they sometimes trace the lines with their little fingers.  I use it as a teaching moment to let them know what they can do differently to protect their skin.

 As a mother of the new millennium, my thoughts on tanned skin changed.  The creamy smoothness of chubby baby thighs and pudgy little feet could never look as good if they were darkened by the rays. I love the newness and subtleness of baby skin and wanted all of my babies to remain soft, cuddly and pale.  Besides, those cute body dimples show better on an unsunkissed baby.  Funny, really.  The very reason I wanted to immerse myself in Panama Jack Dark Tanning Oil with Orange Gel was to erase the look of body dimples on my own skin. 

As with everything in life, looking at the matter through mommy eyes adjusts the perspective.  All of my kids were aqua babies and grew accustomed to swimming in the outdoors at very early ages.  I read up on sunscreens, UVA’s, UVB’s and SPF’s and modeled the correct behavior in their presence.  Our outside exposure consisted of wide brimmed baby hats, swim shirts, sunglasses and SPF that was higher than the IQ of the general population.  Pools and spray pads with big shade trees were our usual destinations. Night swimming beneath the moonbeams was (and still is) a summer favorite.

Still, my kiddos love being outdoors on a hot summer day.  Popsicles and lemonade just don’t taste the same when savored inside 4 walls. ‘Mr. Sun’ is our summer anthem. Their generation has a much greater understanding and respect for the sun and the damaging effects it has on skin. We, as parents, are more environmentally savvy and do a much better job of communicating preventative measures that little ones can understand. Even as my kids have grown older and become more independent, I am still rigid about their sun protection when they are outdoors.

In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Golden Sun is still my personal weakness.  On the rare occasion that I find myself at a watering hole without my personal cherub circus, I lay claim to the nearest reclining chair, lather on a little protection and wrap myself in his welcoming rays. His heat pulls me in and takes my mind to a less complicated life where my toes are in the sand and the worries are far away.  A pink umbrella jeweled glass is usually there too.

I know that as my little ones grow, they will most likely fall prey to the powers of the sun.  I can only hope that when they hear that chorus in their head “Mr. Sun. Sun. Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me!”, they know that the blistering and peeling left by Mr. Golden Sun is not pretty and continue to reach for the SPF 50.

I, on the other, wrinkly hand, am thankful that I made it through my earlier years without anything more than unflattering hands, and that my love for the Sol isn’t equivalent to that of the ‘Tanning Mom’. I now know when to cover up and walk inside….and take my pink umbrella drink with me.

For more information on skin cancer and prevention, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website at www.skincancer.org.