Of patience and sunscreen

It’s my third treatment session and i am waiting for my therapist to arrive. I came in an hour earlier than my schedule having nowhere else to go after bringing my son to school.

I sit on the clinic’s lush and comfortable couch and look at the magazines sprawled on the coffee table. And i am thinking if i should get one and read.

I think. I seem to be doing a lot of this lately. Going around in circles and always going back to that sunny day at the beach where i sat on the sand while keeping watch on my two children and taking photos and videos of them happily surfing the waves.

They were so happy and i was happy just looking at them.

All was well in my world.

For two hours i stayed in that spot never really minding the sun.

Without any sunscreen.

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Which is is why i am here at the skin clinic. A place i never go to except for occasional facials. The number of times of which i can count on my fingers.

Sunburned was what happened to me. And because getting a really nice tan was not part of my plan, the dress that i wore that day which had most of my back exposed, left an uneven, unpleasant and dark tone. It has been two months and i feel like it is not going to go back to its original color.

But my Dermatologist tells me it will.  Although it will take take some time because the older one gets, the longer the skin heals, she says. Which goes without saying that i am not as young as i used to be. She then added that I just have to be patient.

Patience is not my strongest virtue.

Why didn’t i practice what i preach?

I have always made sure my children are protected with sunscreen every time they go swimming. Even reprimanding my husband when he forgets to use one when he goes biking.

Why did i not use one for myself?

I shrank and abused myself even more by having a pity party with Google. Reading articles and looking at photos. Feeding my anxiety drove me to the conclusion that i am never going to get the skin on my back to the way it used to be.

I  find myself heading to the beauty isles which i ignore whenever i do our shopping. Whitening soaps and lotion are now included in my grocery list. A quick stop at the pharmacy to get my weekly capsule supplement  is now part of my routine too. Things i never did before.

Anything to make it heal faster.

Being patient is one of my greatest struggles.

“It’s just skin Mommy”,  my daughter scolds me. Funny, she sounds just like me when she went through a similar situation. The mother who preached that real beauty is skin deep and that simplicity is always the better choice over vanity is obsessing with a tan. Because it’s a bad one, my stubborn self whispers.

“It will go back Mommy. Just wait”, says my seven-year old son. So wise beyond his years. I wonder what he thinks of me worrying over a tan.

“It is not a serious matter Tart. You are still the most beautiful woman in the world”, my husband tells me. This man has always loved me despite my unpredictability and craziness. I wonder why.

I hear my Dermatologist again. “The tan is not permanent. The layers of our skin changes and are replaced regularly. Your skin was just traumatized because of the lack of protection. It will take long but it will go back. Don’t worry. Just be patient.”

That word again.

Her smile is so reassuring. I am almost ashamed of my pettiness. No, not almost. I am ashamed. This is not me. The me who thinks that buying clothes and putting on make-up is a chore. The me who would gladly sit on the floor of  a second hand book shop rummaging through piles of books. The me who buys high-heeled shoes only because her work requires her to but would trade all of it for sneakers and slip-ons.

What has happened to me?

This obsession made me realize that it is not really the bad tan which troubles me the most. It is knowing that i made a mistake. My thirteen-year old daughter was right all along. “You are used to having everything perfect Mommy. That’s why when something goes wrong you can’t accept it. Mistakes happen and you just have to accept them and move on”.

She knows me too well.

After an hour’s treatment, my therapist shows me the progress we have made. It is not the miracle i wish for but it surely is improving albeit slowly.

Patience, i remind myself.

I drive to my son’s school to pick him up. He goes to me with a smile and kisses me on the lips. He is always excited to go home. His jolly chatter soon fills  the car and i silently tell myself to never again waste time and energy thinking about my skin when everything around me is filled with so much wonder and beauty.

Would it really be that bad to wait till next summer for my bad tan to fade? While i would have to forego wearing a couple of dresses which show my back to my hosting gigs, i could always wear something else. I never really liked wearing those outfits anyway.

Now i have the next ten months to complete a crash course on the subject of patience.  I look forward to next summer when i can just shrug and laugh as i look back on this “personal crisis”.

I have learned my lesson. Loud and clear.

And while i pick myself up from this temporary insanity i remind myself to train my mind to see the beauty in everything, that patience is a virtue and to never, ever underestimate the importance of sunscreen.

Even artist Baz Luhrmann swears by this truth in his song “Everybody’s free (to wear sunscreen)

“Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
Wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off
Painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it’s worth
But trust me on the sunscreen”

In the meantime, there are dinner dishes to wash and clean laundry to fold. Life goes on for this full-time mom. Her beautiful life goes on.

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