I'm all done crying (for now)

I don't know how other people do it, go through times of great upheaval, but I'll tell you how I do it - with lots of struggle.

Sandwiched between one hard week and another was a complete day off, a Sabbath. We couldn't even go skiing, it was raining (and yes, rain in January is completely depressing.)

We stayed indoors and I nursed the end of a head cold, my second in three weeks. Damien, unbeknownst to us, was coming down with a nasty virus of his own. It was good to be home.

We filled the hours with movies and an afternoon game of Settlers of Catan. It sounds cozy and it was, though being sick is never "cozy" in the way you quite imagine it to be.

I'm not proud of how I played the game. I complained about my position on the board, which I had chosen. I thought for sure I was destined to be the last of the pack.

I won the game, surprising myself most of all. My children were somewhat disgusted with my behavior, as was I. Victory was not nearly so sweet after all that complaining.

Damien said, "there's a lesson here".

Yep, it's all in how you roll the dice.

By the end of the day I was tired of my whining and my tears for the previous week. Tired of my struggle to find my equilibrium in this New Year.

It was Sunday night and I resolved to start the week on a fresh start.

This week, there haven't been as many tears but until I find my new rhythm to this time, my routine (how exactly am I to accomplish all this?), I'm floundering.


Transition eats up the margin in my life. I feel there's not enough "fat", not enough bubble in my life to make the edges smooth. The edges of each activity demanding my attention are rubbing against each other. Scraping.

So what if I'm not crying anymore? I'm "edgy" instead and I'm sure that's not any better.

This is not a "woes-me" tale. I am not asking for sympathy or pity.

This is a "this is how it really is right now" tale.

And I'm telling it because I want to fight my way through it. I want to get to the other side. And part of that is telling it like it is, without hiding my struggles.

The other part is figuring out how to live these next couple months without completely losing it, and without driving my family crazy. And I don't know how to do that right now, so I can't write about that part.

But I trust it's coming, the breakthrough, one of these days.

This is all there is to share right now, my dipperful. The tears, my complaints, my first win in Settlers of Catan, my family's mild disgust with my behavior.

My floundering reminds me a bit like the early days of having children. Trial-by-fire. The unsteady on your feet feeling until you figure it out.

I will find my way, we'll find a new pattern to our days that makes sense. And then we'll be on the trail and I'll be facing new challenges of finding a new rhythm and routine. Trail-by-fire.

I am tempted to sweep this part, these struggles of early January (and Dear God, I do hope we have passed through the worst of it for at least a couple of weeks), under the rug and put on a happy face so:

  1. my parents don't worry too much about me (hey Mom, I am ok), and
  2. the choir doesn't get tired of my whining.

I'm not going to apologize for feeling this way or sharing it. I know you're not asking me to shut up, but it always seems kind of immature to get complain-y on the blog.

I feel however the complaining and the trials are something I must work through, yes publicly, since the journey is very much a public thing (we're creating a video series).

There will be amazing triumphs and epiphanies on this journey. I know it. I'm banking on it. And the only way I can share those mountain-top moments, in good conscience, is by sharing the valleys I must travel through to get there.

Thank you for bearing with me.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

« For lovers and poets (and Damien)
Remembering my life preserver »
  • Shelly Sangrey

    Shelly Sangrey on Jan. 16, 2014, 5:21 p.m.

    You're not alone in this. I've been the same way lately; I think it's the winter blues surfacing. Thank you for putting it out there for all to see. We need this in a world where people try to hide their imperfection.


  • Sandi

    Sandi on Jan. 16, 2014, 6:29 p.m.

    I appreciate your honesty. I feel you are far braver then I am. I tend to need to figure things out before I write them, My hat is off to you. Something I find comforting during times like these, because we all have them in some form or another, is to do something I am good at daily or weekly. I do something that is familiar and easy for me or really enjoyable. When I am on a learning curve that is very steep it is very hard and unnerving. Doing familiar or easy things is comforting and confidence building for me.

    Like I said my hat is off to you being willing to share this whole adventure so openly. It is encouraging and motivating in many ways.


  • Bonnie

    Bonnie on Jan. 16, 2014, 6:47 p.m.

    What you are undertaking is HUGE. If all you did on the blog was post happy tales of how wonderful it all is to plan, prep, and actually DO a trip like this, it would start to feel false, fast.

    I've been reading your blog for a couple of years, and although our lives don't look exactly the same (but I have three awesome kids as well that we aren't raising according to what our close friends/family would deem "normal" all the time!), I have always loved your honesty. You truly, truly inspire me, Renee!

    Keep on keepin' it real!



  • Jeanne

    Jeanne on Jan. 16, 2014, 6:59 p.m.

    I appreciate your integrity and willingness to show your vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Brene Brown would be proud. 

    I am looking forward to the video series. I recently finished reading the Called Again book by Jennifer Pharr Davis and have a new appreciation for what you and your family will be attempting. I hope you have more fun on the trail than she did!

    I am glad to see the progress on the Kickstarter campaign and will continue to tweet about it. You're more than halfway there!


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 17, 2014, 2:54 p.m.

      Thank you Jeanne, your tweets and support online are so encouraging. 

      I haven't read that book of Davis' but I read her first book. (So I just read a bunch of reviews on Goodreads). Jennifer Pharr Davis is one of those super athletic/competitive women that intimidate me a little bit. We are doing this hike because we think it will be both challenging and fun. We will have a mutiny on our hands if our hike is like Jennifer's record setting hike, none of us could handle that kind of experience. Because we're not setting records we can take the time to have fun.

      One of the things I am really looking forward to, and the kids are also looking forward to it, is meeting and staying with people along the way. We have people who want to meet us and help us along the way, people who have read our blogs for years and whom we've gotten to know that way. And other people are complete strangers to us.  Our sociable and relationship-loving family can't wait to spend time with people while we're on the trail. 


  • Dianna

    Dianna on Jan. 17, 2014, 2:36 a.m.

    Once again you amaze me with your open and frank words.  I admire and welcome your honest sharing of all that is your life. That is one of the reasons that I come to FIMBY first each day. I do hope that you feel the warmth of the acceptance and admiration that so many of us feel when we read your words.  Thank you for sharing with us.  May peace and love be with you, Dianna


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 17, 2014, 2:44 p.m.

      I do Dianna. I feel so much love from the community at FIMBY it overwhelms me sometimes how good and kind and supportive people are. And I think how can we spread that all around?


  • Anna

    Anna on Jan. 17, 2014, 3:05 a.m.

    Love this. So refreshingly honest but enduring . I have had many days where the motto just has to be " just do the next thing"....whatever that thing is. Even if it means crying for a season while I do it. Grace and peace to you....and to me. Thanks


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Jan. 17, 2014, 3:23 a.m.

    I so love your authenticity Renee. There has eben lots of tears here too this week. And lots of complaining. And judging myself for being so edgy. We will work our way through this, as we always do. But for now, I'll try to simply honor the tears and the grumpiness.


  • Leslie

    Leslie on Jan. 17, 2014, 4:23 a.m.

    I also wanted to say thanks for your honesty. This post is actually what made me to decide to contribute to your Kickstarter campaign (Edamommy). I follow your blog and get a lot of good ideas from it, but like so many people, money is a little tighter than we'd like, etc. But I do admire your willingness to put yourself out there, and I want to help support that kind of person.

    I have hugely stressful international moves every couple of years (months without our stuff, new friends (or sometimes no friends), new house, new culture, new attempts to find good food) and have some very rough days before, after, and inbetween, and the one piece of advice I can give you as you prepare for this big adventure is that help is always there if you ask for it. It really is.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 17, 2014, 2:32 p.m.

      Leslie, Thank you so much for your support. International moves every couple years - ah you get it then. I don't move internationally every couple years but there is a big shake up on a regular basis in our lives and so I appreciate your advice to ask for help. I have such a hard time doing that. I felt bad last night about going to down the road to ask a neighbor to help boost our car (the battery was dead), I hate to inconvenience people, even though it was a 5 minute thing!

      I think this might be my next big learning curve, there's been a lot over the last few years. I feel much more self aware and more compassionate than I used to be. I feel more comfortable in my vulnerability, etc. Now, I need to feel more comfortable asking for help. My fear of rejection holds me back from that. 


  • Sara

    Sara on Jan. 17, 2014, 6:27 a.m.

    1.  Settlers of Catan is a contentious game.  Our family is a game-playing family as well, and we went through a brief Settlers stage (before the kids were old enough to play), but it is just too aggressive and divisive, so we don't play.  I wouldn't worry too much about your reaction to it; it's natural.

    2.  Sometimes things are not as great as other times, right? 

    3. Early January (and mid-to-late January, hate to tell you) is the coldest, most depressing time of the year, I find.  Still dark, been darkish forever, getting lighter but not appreciably so.  It is normal to be somewhat down at this time.


    I love your blog, btw, and your philosophy of homeschool.  You're doing okay. :)


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 17, 2014, 2:22 p.m.

      Sara, Thank you. 

      Our family usually really enjoys Settlers of Catan. We like the competition and the strategy, though it does seem up to a lot of chance also. I only won last Sunday because 11's were rolled an unlikely number of times (smile).

      January is not my typical most depressing time of year. I have SAD and mid-Feb to the end of March is hardest for me. I usually enjoy the "getting back into the groove" feeling of early to mid January. It's one of the better times of winter for me. This year has been the opposite of that, which has kind of thrown me for a loop shall we say. 

      I love point two and you are completely correct. This too shall pass is a good phrase to remember.


  • Alaina

    Alaina on Jan. 17, 2014, 1:48 p.m.

    Well I can say that I, too, go through times of great upheavel with lots of struggle.  I remember using something I think you said about when we moved- it felt like giving birth but it went on and on.  I really liked that analogy.  Sometimes life feels like that.  Or I also likened it to a marathon that never ended.  I recall many times laying on the floor in front of the sink full of dishes crying after the kids were sleeping wondering how in the world I was going to do it.  I find the hardest thing to look after myself during times like that.  I always get sick too.  


  • Angela

    Angela on Jan. 17, 2014, 2:52 p.m.

    I feel you. Such a big transition coming for your family. Even when you are taking a break from the doing and prepping, such a journey ahead has to constantly be on your mind. I stayed in Cades Cove one winter for a few days, camping. It was beautiful. Our group hiked to what was the "first" Appalachian trail shelter, Black Gap. That was a trip I will not forget. It snowed at our campsite. I was travelling with Alabama folk and me, from Texas, we packed up and left before the sun was up, the next morning after the snow. LOL! Anway, I am looking forward to hearing about your journey. Highs and lows and in-betweens!!



    • renee

      renee on Jan. 17, 2014, 2:59 p.m.

      It's funny. Before the New Year I was scared of the hike a bit. Scared of everything that is unknown to me about that adventure. Now, I just want to get through these next few months and actually be there, experiencing it, because once I"m there I will know definitely that we got through these intense months of preparation!


  • Brittany

    Brittany on Jan. 17, 2014, 3:19 p.m.

    Thank you Renee for sharing the hard stuff along with the good stuff.  Real life isn't "Pinterest-perfect", nor should we represent it as such.  I'm so delighted to see the progress with the Kickstarter fundraising... I've been spreading the word too.  Much love and peace to you in this season; God is ever-present.

    The Robbins Family


  • Lori C.

    Lori C. on Jan. 17, 2014, 3:28 p.m.

    Thank you for bearing with us...I know it must be gut wrenching to share the depths of your heart with the world, but, knowing that I'm not all alone in this struggle for equalibrium...So helpful. Our struggles are so different, yet bear so many similarities, I find strength in the words you share here...I also deeply appreciate your ability to be honest, and your resistance to sugar-coating your life's stories. So truly, thank you.


  • Lisa Zahn

    Lisa Zahn on Jan. 17, 2014, 7:25 p.m.

    You'll see in my newsletter tomorrow that I've been feeling similarly this January, and I don't have adventure planning as a reason! It's January. It's been hard. And I'm trying to be kind to myself and everybody else.


  • Megan McLeod

    Megan McLeod on Jan. 18, 2014, 1:26 a.m.

    OH MY!!!  You are living the life I always thought I would live!  I totally understand that the very heartbeat of your life is being a mom and your family....teaching them and growing with them as they teach you.  I thought I was on the right path, with many ups and downs because we were caught in the modern cycle of "needs" when all I ever wanted (and compared to my kids friends) was less.  I lost the path.  I don't know really when I lost it...I look back now and see many of the signs towards the present destructive life I live with my children.  The constant stress I feel and disappointment that I live in, is so overwhelming now, I don't know where to turn anymore.  The strength that I once had is totally gone...drained from every part of my being...with the sadness that I no longer have the energy to care.  I came across your blog by chance just now and wished I'd known you "back then" when I still had the strength to fight.  The fact that you are living the way you are, with a partner who still shares the same values as you started out with, and three children who you love to be with IS AMAZING!!!!!  You are definitely one in a very few number of individuals who respect this earth and the compassion that humans are supposed to understand.  I'm not a religious person, but going forward as you are, teaching your children such grace is almost unnatural these days...CONGRATULATIONS to both you and your husband.  I married a man who chose the easier path 2.5 years ago, walk out the door. I was once a stay at home mom - also, the very heartbeat of my soul - loving and respecting my family and its growth, believing we were the very center of our universe.  Now,  I'm still paying lawyers bills to argue over nothing, and have times I don't even like my children now - which is completely mind numbing to me.  How did I get here....when will it please end!  SO, with all that said, take your grey days in stride, and CELEBRATE this amazing life that you and your husband are taking.  You can be so very very proud of what you are teaching your children.  Not only will you never regret this journey you are undertaking, even with its teary days, your childen will learn to understand the duality of weakness and strength.  Asking for help when you need it but also stepping forward when you're scared. YOU GO!!!  I'm very glad to have "met" you.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 18, 2014, 2:45 p.m.

      Dear Megan, I am word-less. Stopped short in my complaining, whining, crying and general bad attitude of the past 14 days or so. My heart aches for the loss of your family life, as you knew it, and the dreams you had for it. Your words, based on your experience, speak volumes to my heart right now. Celebrate the life I have with my family - the good and the difficult times (my husband has been sick this week and it's been very hard since we haven't been sleeping well and I'm not the most nurturing person when other's are sick - I get impatient with weakness, not proud of that.)

      Thank you for taking the time and opening your heart to me here. I too have my days of "when will it please end!" but your own heart ache and overwhelm puts this all into perspective for me. 

      Megan, you may not be a religious person, but I am. And I am praying for you and your family. I believe in a God who redeems (takes ugly situations and makes them beautiful). I believe this will all my heart and I believe it for you.


      • Lily

        Lily on Jan. 18, 2014, 11:03 p.m.

        Yes Megan, my heart goes out to you also.  Megan you are depleted.  Open your mind and heart to your religion niw.  Ask God to help you.  Really ask.  I will pray for him also.  It is the first step to a better path.  Sincerely, lily in ohio


  • Rachel Wolf

    Rachel Wolf on Jan. 18, 2014, 5:42 p.m.

    Thank you for this, Renee. I've been there too in the new year. Many tears and much fussing. I'm so done with it. I appreciate your vulnerability and honesty here as we journey along this path by your side. Sending blessings.


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