My mum left to go shopping one day, but she never came back. When she became uncontactable by late afternoon, we became worried and hoped she’d somehow show up at home.
All we got was a phone call from SGH.
To cut the story short, she had collapsed in the toilet and was found unconscious hours later. By the time the paramedics were called to attend to her, there was no more pulse.
I cannot begin to describe how devastating it is to lose a loved one so suddenly, without the chance to say goodbye. She had Whatsapp’ed me earlier that morning, over something relatively trivial. And I tremble in guilt thinking about my last (or maybe second last?) phone call with her — it was short, I’d gotten mildly annoyed, and I’d rolled my eyes at what I thought was a rhetorical question. Astaghfirullah.
She left us so suddenly, I sometimes still cannot believe she’s gone.
I’ve been wanting to do this post for a long time so here goes..!
In 2021 I…
Got more serious about freelancing. New year, clean slate. Told myself no more excuses (2019: Pregnancy, 2020: Maternity leave + pandemic) and time to earn some real money.
Got roped into longer term projects and won another project with my previous agency, which helped my earnings a lot. The longer term projects were great in giving me a constant stream of assignments, even if they weren’t big.
Established new work relationships, which is always a yay.
Connected and befriended a local freelance writer. She’s really lovely and sends contacts my way, alhamdulillah. I try to return the favour but tbh my network’s not so great… yet!
Struggled with work deadlines quite a bit, eeks. No wonder one of the course trainers said to thrive as a freelance writer, one of the simple things you only need to do is to meet deadlines. Coz after a while, it really does get hard!
Invested in a bunch of writing-related courses… now to get more ROI out of them.
I knew from the start that our BTO wasn’t going to be our forever home. It’d be our sweet matrimonial home yes, but we’d eventually move on.
But I definitely didn’t expect to sell it right at the 5 year mark. I thought we’d do 7. What changed? Over the years NG got more interested in property trends and found that you get the highest price when selling at MOP. All this is pre-Covid 19 price surge of course. So he convinced me that we should sell. It took a while for me to be convinced, but eventually I came onboard the idea.
Choosing our agent
The thing about a soon-to-MOP project is that you’ll have lots of agents knocking on doors. So we pretty much auditioned them—at least NG did. I think he met with 3-4 agents before we settled for a pair who impressed us with data (when advising on how to choose our next home).
Salam Dzulhijjah! I thought this year’s Ramadhan was personally transformational for me, which is why I wanted to record it down somewhere.
A little background
I’ve been a member of AA Plus from the start, but never been active even though I pay for monthly membership. If I’m honest, I’ve always thought of it as me doing charity to support a company doing great work for sisters. Sometime late last year or early this year, I started paying a little more attention to their online meet ups. But I wasn’t doing a great job at it coz I’d keep reading about the meet ups AFTER they’d happen. *tetiaow*
K anyway, alhamdulillah, something in my heart stirred me to start participating in the tadarus sessions that they were running during Ramadhan. The first night of Ramadhan, I completely forgot about it. The next 2-3 nights, I wanted to join the sessions (starts 9.45pm) but didn’t get a good hold of our adjusted Ramadhan evening routine with the girls yet, and so I couldn’t break away from them early enough to log on to Zoom.
Finally, it was the first Friday night in Ramadhan. Watermelon was off at her usual staycation with my in-laws, and Chickpea is 10x easier to put to bed when her sister is not around, so I got an opportunity to join the session.
Last week I fell into the rabbit hole of reading through my old blog posts from my BTB days. It was quite weird knowing that I’d written all those posts, yet struggling to relate because those were literally written many lifetimes ago.
But it also reminded me how lovely it was to have a time of my life documented. So here I am, trying to create a snapshot of life right now.
First quarter of 2021
Covid-19 is still a thing. Wearing a mask outside is still a thing (ugh). Eating out feels more normal. House gatherings are limited to 8 pax. With Hari Raya coming next month, I’m not sure how visiting will be affected. Schools and childcare centres are up and running, thankfully. Still no word on travel borders opening up, so holidays and holiday planning are still on pause now.
But more personally, in the first few months alone, I’ve:
Called an ambulance
Made a police report
Given a broadcast interview in Malay (lol whaaat)
Stood as witness in a court trial (and got scolded by the judge for inadvertently interrupting her, v sian I tell you)
You’re one year old already! Time seems to have flown past quickly. I feel like I barely remember the days where you mostly lay in the rocker that we’ve since given away.
Before I birthed you, I was really worried that you’d be difficult to handle. Everyone seems to say that siblings will be different, and for me, I only dared to imagine that you’d be bad-different from your older sister.
The day we brought you home from the hospital – technically it was slightly past the first 24 hours of your life – I worried in my heart that I had scored a high needs child. The night before, you’d refused to sleep in the bassinet alone. You much preferred to squeeze in bed with me, which turned out to be a foreshadowing of how close you often want to be to me.
But the truth is that you’re good-different from Watermelon. I needn’t have worried that you’d give me a hard time. For instance, you ended up sleeping a lot during the fourth trimester, giving me unexpected freedom to do things like bake and colour in my adult colouring book. I could not have imagined so when I was still pregnant with you.
Compared to your sister, you’re more agile. You love food more, though fruits less. You’re just as cheeky as she was. And while at one year old she only had one stubby tooth emerging, you have 4 debuting around the same time.
You must forgive me though for seemingly comparing you to your sister a lot. I’m a fairly new mum of 2, and I can’t help it even though I know you’re your own person.
One more thing I noticed about you is that you’re so much fiercer. And I love it! Even at my age of two and thirty, I still struggle with asserting my rights and often end up inadvertently shortchanging myself. So I take comfort knowing that you will likely have lesser qualms expressing what it is you truly desire.
Chickpea you’re only one, and already I pray for you a lifetime of happiness and an eternity in Paradise. May Allah swt write for you a spouse who will love you endlessly, never make you feel alone, and guide you into becoming a true Believer. Things I won’t be able to do for you when I’m gone.
But most of all, I hope you’ll always honour your inner voice and truly be at peace with yourself.
You are so brave. You are so strong. You are so beautiful. You are my prayers answered, and I love you very much!
2021 is here! 2020 was such a gamechanger for the entire world, wasn’t it. I still remember taking walks at the reservoir and listening to an American podcaster explain “social distancing”.
Now it’s taken for granted that everyone knows what social distancing is. Also, walks at the reservoir truly feel like a thing in the past because these days I’m spending my mornings baking. Plus I somehow associate those walks with a period of struggling — so in a way, it’s a good thing I haven’t felt the urgent need to return?
Sometimes I get this curious feeling of missing circuit breaker and almost wanting to go through it again. The quiet neighbourhood. Struggles of keeping the toddler occupied. Family time. The amount of TV privileges that Watermelon got.
One of my most sobering memories of 2020 was the time I headed to NTUC at Tampines Mall only to be shown the extremely long snaking queue around the entire basement. And learning that we had to give our personal details (that was slightly before the roll out of Safe Entry iirc) to an officer at the door before entering. Anyone in Tampines knows that particular NTUC outlet has been there since forever, always available for us to shop at. Until it wasn’t. That really taught me that we’ve been taking SO many things for granted 😔
Chickpea is 10 months now, which means she’s been on earth about just as long as she was inside my body. And it feels bittersweet, because before this, I didn’t have to share her with the world. It was just she and I breathing and growing together, figuring out the massive changes in my life, and slowly preparing for the day she would leave her first home — my womb.
At this stage, some parts of Chickpea’s personality are already shining through. For one, she’s a fierce gal. To the point that I, her mother, sometimes feel terrified of her. Lol. I think (hope!) she’ll have no problem asserting herself in future. She’s also pretty brave, venturing out to our store room alone, and somehow figuring out that the best way to get down from our bed is feet first. It looks like she’ll be more agile than Watermelon is. Obviously the two girls are different but sometimes I can’t help but compare!
Speaking of which, alhamdulillah the two girls seem to be getting along well, for most parts. Watermelon dotes on Chickpea but occasionally cries when Chickpea gets in her way. Nothing unreasonable. Sometimes I find both of them giggling away, which is nice, even though they shouldn’t be resisting bedtime. No idea what they’re up to because usually that sound is the cue for me to RUN and savour my freedom, even if for a minute.
Moods about work
Lately I’ve been feeling a lot better regarding work. I think coz one day I decided to listen to the Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast by Cathy Heller. Her message and her positivity rubbed off me, and I started feeling like okay, this season of my life is to be cherished x1000, and that I’ve got a great thing going with my small sourdough business. I mean, the business sometimes feels like an accidental thing; an endeavour to be limited because it eats into the time that I should spend building my freelance writing business instead. After listening to her, I started thinking about Rafsiebakes a little differently, mostly more positively.
But yes, it feels soooo much better where I am now, than where I was a few months ago. Super glad to have left “the darkness”, although I’m still a huge work in progress.
Ending this entry with a lovely poem by Joanna Bennett, whom I learnt about in the latest episode of The High Low podcast. If I’m not mistaken, she’s writing about an unborn child. But feel free to interpret. Enjoy!
Kernel by Joanna Bennett
Your essence, she said, is inside like a kernel, soft, safe from harm, full of hope, vernal.
Despite outside forces, the daily grind, a toasting, it can endure a lot, a wise crack, a roasting.
A pulse, a heart, it keeps on glowing, cheering you on, the roar keeps growing.
So when it’s very dark, listen hard, use your gut you’re stronger than you know, keep going little nut.
I finally figured that the reason why I’ve been neglecting my blog is coz running a business insta for sourdough takes up quite a bit of mental load! Leaving not much of me left to pour into my usual monthly entries. But I will try…