I look back at 2018 with such fond memories. We had our very first baby in January, we grew stronger as a family, and increased exponentially as a company. But somehow, I mostly remember 2018 as the year that I lost my way.
I’ve even avoided writing this recap post from last year because I’m still processing all of what that means, so bear with me.
I think this year is the first time I’ve had something so much bigger than myself (our baby Gwen) come into play, that it really forced me to step back and look at my life from a different perspective.
To be totally candid with you, a year ago I would’ve said that I was working harder and harder because “this is my passion,” but really it was to earn more money that I thought we needed.
I would’ve said that I felt accepted, healthily challenged, and welcomed by my fellow blogging community. I would’ve even lied and told you that working 80 hours a week was no problem at all on my marriage, even though it was, and that my family life was fine because that was easier than telling you the truth.
I also felt justified by being perpetually busy as if that was some sign of success, because at the time that felt real to me. Then all of the sudden we had our own version of a rainbow baby.
No, we didn’t have multiple miscarriages (that we know of) trying for a family before Gwen, but looking back I now know that she was the one thing we needed most that we didn’t realize we needed.
She was our hidden rainbow that was the beginning of a year full of falling apart so that we can eventually come back together better. I use the word “can” because I don’t feel like we’re there yet.
I don’t know that there’s really an eloquent way to put my version of 2018 into words without seeming a certain way, so I’m just going to quickly jot down my thoughts that weight the most—
- Gwen: I honestly underestimated the role of parenthood in SO many ways. I’ve never felt more loved, loving, inadequate, frustrated, and euphoric all at once. If that’s even possible! I have a separate recap for Baby G coming, so I won’t go into too much detail just yet, but needless to say, our life took a major turn after becoming three.
Without doing anything (besides having colic, reflux, and basically coming out of the womb giving speeches and hilarious facial expressions, haha!), she made me see life totally different.
All of the sudden I was thinking “What was I working myself into the ground for?”, “Do I really need to be doing all of this?”, “Are these people my real friends, would they be there if nothing online was ever mentioned?”. All of these questions lead to these thoughts…
- Work: It’s always been a major dream of mine to have something tangible from Sugar & Cloth to hold and see. When you run an online company, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as real as what it seems like from a readers perspective.
What you see as glamorous and exotic in an entertaining blog post might actually feel like a sweaty, colorful mosquito invested location that we styled from our perspective! Haha! So having products was a real “pinch me!” goal, and I’m so happy to say that you all showed your support for that dream with sales, tags in your stories, and emails and messages of photos from your parties exponentially throughout the year!
That said, I also felt a bit tired and burnt out here as well. I’ve been creating DIY’s, recipes, and pretty things to share with you here multiple times a week with less than 5 people on our team to make it happen for more than 8 years. Don’t get me wrong, I have and always will LOVE creating things and sharing them with you!!! But I actually dread the pressure of it.
Jared and I work together on Sugar & Cloth and both rely 100% on the income that the blog generates, so paid maternity or paternity leave for us wasn’t even an option. The pressure of figuring our parenthood and sustaining our entire income and livelihood on top of that has been mentally exhausting for me.
I don’t know what the answer is to this just yet and I’m still very much a work in progress, but it feels nice just to be honest and tell you that I love but I’m a little lost and trying to find my way right now.
I’m realizing there’s strength in being honest, humble, and admitting that I don’t have all of the answers or a cut-and-dry plan all the time.
- Friendships: This has been a really hard one for me this year as well. There’s no quicker way to find out who your true friends are than to hit a low point and see who’s still willing to show up and cheer you on when it isn’t convenient for them. Not to get all Taylor Swift on you, but it’s true.
It’s not easy to make friends as an adult, and it’s especially not easy to make friends as an adult with a baby, or in a career that is considered numbers oriented.
For instance, you might not know that blogging is very much based on how high your pageviews are, how many people follow you on social media, how many comments or likes you get, etc. Because of that, it’s sometimes very easy for people to decide whether or not you’re worth their time pretty quickly.
Even worse is when it happens with people you trusted enough to open up about private goals and dreams with, or that you talked plans with that ended up going to others instead. This is a lot of what I experienced this year, coupled with the fact that it’s already very easy to feel not yourself after having a baby.
Looking at it from another perspective, it makes me even more thankful to have found a different group through motherhood that’s supportive in new ways that are totally unrelated to chasing numbers. And it’s doubly exciting to find that I even have one tried and true friend that fulfills both.
- Family: If you follow along on IG, you’ve seen A LOT more of my family life this year than in years past. People have their various reasons for debating why that’s the case, but for me, I can tell you that it’s because I found a new sense of happiness in not working all of the time.
So much of my self-confidence got wrapped up in “succeeding” in this unidentified way, that it wasn’t until I stepped back from it that I realized I wasn’t happy there. Suddenly my 12-14 hour work days got replaced with a newborn haze that I can still remember with a full heart like it was yesterday.
Once I started to get the hang of having an infant, I all of the sudden felt the most rewarded by her little face each morning instead of an inbox full of emails. It’s so sad to actually write that down and admit it.
It also forced me to look at my marriage and see that we had almost solely become bonded over working together, and little else. We’ve now had to find our way back to a love that doesn’t revolve around checking off to-do lists and recapping the workday constantly, and it’s been TOUGH.
Thankfully we both agree we’re in it for the long haul, but if anyone in our position ever told you it was easy, they’d be lying to you.
So yes, I lost what I thought I felt confident and sure of in 2018.
I’d like to tell you that I’m sorry if this post seems somber, or less than exciting for you, but I’m glad it crumbled in a way. I can at least say it’s a very raw truth, but I’d rather face that truth now than to look back at my life years from now and wonder why I’m without my family by my side, true friends to show up with things are crappy, or a future that I can’t change.
Sometimes real seems like it will be refreshing to read until you realize that the truth isn’t always perfect, and it surely isn’t for me.
I’m hoping that 2019 is where I find my happy place and/or resolutions to some of these hurdles, but I’d be lying if I told you I knew the answers right now. This is still new for me to even admit to myself, and I think that being honest about it alone is important, don’t you?
So here’s to not comparing, keeping chins up and eyes down, going with your gut instinct, and family first!