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The Oddnivore and the Newcomer came home today after a 20-day vacation. What follows is some attempt at making sense of the ensuing feelings.

There is a knock at the door.

They’re home. They’re home. 

I have been lying on the couch, knot in my stomach, since 5:30–for more than an hour. I can’t move–I’m too nervous. I’ll just lie here.

Now I haul myself upright and open the door. Here is the Newcomer, eye level with me in Nana’s arms. Looking at me. I want to hold her–but may I? I hesitate.

The Oddnivore is lagging behind, planning a superhero ambush when I’m “ready.”

“She’s ready,” Nana says. He sprints in, giggling, beaming at me from behind new sunglasses.

“Look, Mommy, they have a spider on them.”

Oh yes, look they do. I am choking on tears. I hug the Oddnivore, and as I say, I missed you, buddy, my voice breaking, I wonder if he finds it weird that I am crying. I am hesitant to speak further, not wishing to mar the newness of them, of them being here. They are themselves, clearly, but repackaged, more grown-up versions.

And it’s like I have missed a step somewhere between the kids that walked out of my house 20 days ago and the kids who crashed back in today, but I am not sad. I am fascinated. Had they not gone, I could not see them with the fresh eyes I have now.

The Newcomer, toddling quickly around the room, moves shoes and relocates books. She learned to do this while she was gone. Meanwhile the Oddnivore hops up and down on one foot and then the other, over and over again.

They are so eager to show me they have grown.

Time has ticked away perfectly.

But there is happy backtracking:

We have a lot of hugs to make up, I say when the Oddnivore crashes into me yet again. He is holding my legs tight, and he tilts his head back to look up at me.

“Yeah, we do.”