Jack screamed and wailed on my back as I tore through our winter box in the back of my truck. I rummaged through layers of fleece and GorTex, determined to find one of Luke’s baselayer sets right in the middle of my icy driveway. Luke yelled at me from the front porch, angrily exclaiming, “Lukey don’t wanna hike! No! Lukey NOT GOING!” I gave up the rummaging and brought the plastic bin inside, hoping I could get our gear together quickly enough to escape the morning drama that had taken over our house.

I pulled Jack out of the carrier and set him on the floor so I could dress him. All hell broke loose. The screaming intensified, drowning out his older brother’s insistence that he wasn’t leaving the house today.

I threw my hands in the air and stormed out of the room. I ran to the laundry room, shut the door, and sat on the floor in the dark as I listened to the kids scream in the next room. Tears welled up in my eyes and streamed down my face. My chest felt like it was collapsing under the weight of the stress and anxiety.

After a few seconds, I gathered myself and came out of my temporary hiding place. I wiped my tears away and hugged my boys one at a time. The crying stopped, but I still felt really worked up and agitated.

Now, at this point in my story, I’d love to say that I pulled myself together, got everyone bundled up, and went on a beautiful hike. Hell, I’d love to say that we went for a short walk around the neighborhood and reclaimed our day. Unfortunately, real life doesn’t always work that way.

Instead, I turned on the TV, parked the kids on the floor, and cried by myself in the shower. I spent the rest of the day wallowing in my stress and ruminating on what I considered failure after failure. I asked myself over and over why it was suddenly so hard to break away and head for the places I knew to be good for my head and my heart?

Ascension Island Green Mountain Letterbox Loop

For the past couple of years, hiking has been how I’ve taken care of myself and my family. Spending time outside is how I’ve tapped into my greatest courage and creativity. It is where I’ve made some of my most treasured family memories and where I’ve nurtured my dearest friendships. Acknowledging that it has been increasingly difficult to drag myself and my two little kids outside – even to the nearest, easiest trails – has been a bit of a blow to my spirit.

I spewed my jumbled thoughts on this experience to a couple of dear friends last week. After hearing me out, one of my friends told me that I should really write a blog post about it. I immediately I shrugged it off, but knew deep down that sharing my recent struggle with simply getting up and out the door was something I needed to do, for myself and for others.

As much as I prefer to share stories that end on a high note, with a lesson learned or a funny “a-ha!” moment, this story is one that is messy and unfinished. It is hard to be open and vulnerable, but I truly believe that sharing both the triumphs AND the struggles is how we grow and connect with others.

If you find yourself sighing, “Yes, me too!” after reading this post, here’s a giant hug! The struggle is real.