Monday, December 30, 2013

Saying good-bye to 2013

As the year comes to a bittersweet but all-to-welcome close, it is easy for me to reflect on all of the negative aspects of the year. This has, by-far, been the hardest year of my 28-year life and I hope that it remains the hardest year.

The problem with this year is that all of the wonderful things came with their share of heartache, hurt and trial. It has been a learning experience learning to rejoice and cry at the same time - attempting to have a grateful heart despite great bitterness. 

One would think that having a baby, opening a business and learning that you are pregnant again would be cause for only joy and celebration but that has not been my story this year.

Eighteen days after ringing in 2013, I gave birth to a baby girl and Joseph "gave birth" to a new company, Conquest Brewing Company. What started as an adventurous year quickly became a pit of sadness, stress and exhaustion.

I never imaged that childbirth would be so extremely painful and being ill-prepared made for a disappointing start to my daughter's life. The endless crying, diaper changing and little-to-no reward was almost too much to bare. I silently dealt with post-partum depression for the first 6 months of Gwen's life and when I finally went to get help they turned me away saying that I could not possibly have post-partum at 6 months post-partum. So I continued to drown in stress and internal conflict over loving my little Gwen so much but also being overwhelmed by her non-sleeping, constant-crying self.

All the while, Joseph was building his company. Trying to find the right balance between his never-ending responsibilities at the brewery and my constant demands of him to come home and save me from my daily job of taking care of Gwen. For the first 5 months after Gwen was born, Joseph worked two jobs - 40 hours at his former job and then who knows how many hours with the brewery. The dynamic of our relationship changed as before starting the brewery when he left work, he didn't think about it until the next time he went to work. While owning his own business, he is constantly getting texts/calls regarding various aspects of the company that usually cannot wait until the next day. The pressure I put on him to be home was not fair but during the time I felt as if he was my only lifeline.

I had also quit my job at the University of South Carolina to stay home with Gwen. I had never been one to want to stay home and care for children. I had always envisioned myself being the corporate mom who was successful in her career. God changed my heart (and I am glad he did) but this change was extremely upsetting. Going from making a steady income to not making an income at all and still having to work without any pay was a struggle. I didn't expect that taking care of a baby all day would be so stressful and exhausting. One day, standing in front of a sink full of dishes I broke down exclaiming to Joseph, "Who the hell wants this to be their job?" I get no fulfillment out of house work. There is no acknowledgement except more dirty dishes and laundry. 

The thing is, those tasks go unnoticed and unappreciated which was evident by a family member's comments about his father working a job and earning and income and his mother staying at home to raise kids. The comment was basically that the father could do anything he wished with the money he made because the mom "didn't work". I was furious at this mentality of the stay-at-home mom, that her work is not as valuable as the working father's. Luckily, Joseph does not share in these views and he does his best to validate and to voice appreciation for my work.

Then we found out that we were expecting again. The initial reaction as I looked at the pregnancy test was joy but the subsequent feelings were anything but that. Thoughts of how I was going to love another baby, how I was going to deal with having two babies under two years old and most of all, how I was going to survive another labor and delivery were overwhelming and honestly, still are. The hormones of this pregnancy combined with the post-partum depression have made this pregnancy not as enjoyable as Gwen's. I have yet to take a belly photo or make notations of progress. 

The one thing I noticed through this whole year is that through everything, I rarely looked to God for joy or answers. Yes, I prayed but I did not believe that He could honestly take the burdens and help me find rest. I did not look to His promises of

Over the past two months through counseling and increased sleep thanks to Joseph taking the reigns and helping me, things have gotten much better. I have learned a lot about myself: mostly about my selfishness and how I tend to rely on my own strength which is failing instead of relying on the Father's never-ending strength. "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.

So, the ending to this year is much like the beginning. It is full of hope and wonder.