Birthday Love from my Inner Critic-cum-Cheerleader!

I turn 38 today! And it’s lockdown time in Singapore. Yipee, another year in lockdown! Do I mind it? of course not. Last year, this time, I was a harried, cranky, wildly emotional mother of a 2 month old… in lockdown; and this year.. I’m still a harried, somewhat less emotional mother of a 14 month old.. with cancer!

So, I thought, let’s do something special today. Let Bratsnail (my inner voice) write a letter to me on this special day. So here goes:

Thanks Lady! For giving me this honour!

Babes, let’s get this straight. This year has been one of the craziest and yet the most enlightening one of your freakin life! it’s nothing like what you imagined, right? You know what, very few years have the potential to be truly transformational, and you certainly seem to have experienced yours. So today, am not going to blast you about the bullshit that goes on in that head of yours. I just want you to look back at this year and see all that you have achieved.

You learned to let go… Of the mounds of clothes, bags and shoes which are still lying in India. That, and your emotions. You grieved and healed through this year. You tried to make peace with all the emotional turmoil you carried with you. You bravely let go of so many chapters of your life. Just remember, you did the best you could at that time. It did not serve you then, it most certainly doesn’t serve you now. Honestly, I am so proud of you!

You learned that all the friendships you nurtured have rallied behind you like their life depended on it. This tribe is there for keeps. And it’s only the fortunate who get these sort of forever friends. All the fights, the tears (if any), the craziness was well worth it. You love them to the moon and back and they do too!

You learned to love yourself. All the past incidents where you felt inadequate, ashamed even, have somehow disappeared. You are human and have flaws. Period! Here is someone who is proud of what and who she is. When she looks in the mirror she does not see the super-thin, weird, geeky, almost-bald Snehal. She sees the weird Snehal 😊, who is enough. Yes, she has her imperfections, but who doesn’t?

You learned that family meant everything.. psst you actually love the idea of a joint family now. Wow! That’s one huge transformation, isn’t it? I mean, I remember the younger Snehal, who had promised herself she would never stay in a joint family. It was one of her non-negotiables for marriage. And yet here she is, seeking it out. You love how toothless’s eyes shine when he sees his grandma and babbles everyday with his grandfathers. Never say never right?! Right!

You learned knitting (lol.. I had to bring that in.. your 30 year old self is laughing her ass off). You actually enjoy things you found boring earlier. Maybe it’s called ‘getting old’. I mean look at Yoga! You would never do yoga! You preferred kick boxing or Crossfit to Yoga. And look at you now. You love Yoga, meditation, knitting.

You learned to be a mother (psycho one nonetheless). Something you ran away from all these years because you were never sure if you could be a good mother. Well, you learned a secret recently. All mothers wonder if they are good mothers. So, you are just another keg in the wheel, sister. But yes, our (he is as much yours as mine!) naughty, Bollywood music-inclined little monster has made us love someone more than we could probably ever love anyone. Insane!

You learned what it is to be at peace with everything that has happened to you. All your ‘what if’ moments seem to have reduced in size in your mind. While they do sometimes come back, the intensity is considerably less. And honestly, I think this is your biggest achievement. You are no longer a victim in your head. You are finally learning to be comfortable in your skin. And that’s what makes you special, love!

You learned to be open about your illness.. in your own small way. I know how difficult this was and still is for you. To speak about your illness. But you are taking baby steps and that’s all that matters. Your article, your blog.. they are a stepping stone to being more open about what you are going through. It is important for you to reach out to more like you. To give back. To make a difference. So don’t stop!

Whew. That’s kinda a lot to learn in so little time! Just wanted to say.. I love you so much, woman! You are everything you want to be and more. You are fierce and beautiful, inside out! These two years will have an abundance of lessons to learn. Hold them, treasure them, and find your power through them!