this, that & the hardy boys

The day before the infamous “go away!” event, a friend casually asked “aren’t you excited to pick up Cole?”

My automatic response? “Oh, yes!”

But my actual response? Inside my head the answer wasn’t as fast, or as straight forward. And that made me feel sheepish. Shouldn’t I be excited? Thrilled? Relieved to have all my little peeps under one roof again?

I was. And I wasn’t.

I was conflicted. Because while the house had been quieter, lonelier, less full of activity, the house had also been hers. For three glorious weeks, Eleanor had life to herself. Including her brother’s entire Hardy Boys collection.


Of course there have been the sleepovers or school trips that have taken Cole away from home before, but never long enough to change the cadence of our lives.

For three weeks we lived at an Eleanor pace. We did all sorts of things–big things, small things, flexible things simply because there was one less person in our family equation.

So while I was excited to see Cole, I wasn’t excited to give up this time with Eleanor.

Both of these feelings are true.

It is the rare moment when we feel a single emotion. Something as seemingly straightforward as a new favorite ice cream can invoke both an ooooh, this is incredible followed very quickly by uh-oh, this might be too good. And something as complex as death can yield both sorrow and solace. And sometimes our kids may feel both aggravated and reassured when we pull a fought-over toy out of play.

Life is full of feeling this and that.

nervous and excited.
relieved and tense.
sure and unsteady.

It isn’t that one necessarily negates or compliments the other. They are simply both true. And by asking our kiddos about them all, they learn to name all of what is going on inside them.

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A week later, my mixed emotions are still both true. It is great to have him back. And it isn’t the same as when he was gone. But he’s already planning for next summer, and maybe so am I.

When has this been true for you? When have you seen in it your kids? I’d love to hear your stories about this and that. Please send me a line.

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