“And? And is just one word. How is that helpful?”

Monnerat, K. (2022). And. kettlepot press.

I had to look up how to do a proper book citation for the quote above. You may notice that the author’s last name looks familiar. Hint: it’s also my last name. That’s because the author is my wife, Kerri.

A few years ago, she published And, a book about feelings, friendship, grace, and permission to feel multiple, conflicting feelings all at once. The book won a BookFest Award in 2023 and received positive reviews and comments about the impact of the story and the powerful three-letter word.

As with many impactful books, And is drawn from the years of experience my wife had teaching children and her journey as the mother of a child with special needs. It’s also a word and idea we live by in our home that helps us navigate and have a common language for the complex and sometimes conflicting feelings we experience every day.

A very common example in our house is when my son is doing something, whether a school performance or a baseball game, and he is feeling nervous and excited. This situation comes up so often that my son, who likes to make up words, created the portmanteau “nervou-cited,” and we use that as shorthand for talking about his feelings in those situations.

We have had many conversations where someone will interject, “That’s an and.” We can be talking about a situation at work or the state of the world. The conversation can be about the dogs or our relationship with another person or family member. The reminder that we don’t need to force these experiences to have one emotion by dismissing the others is a truer representation of how we should be navigating the world and reduces the urge to focus only on the negative emotion or to try to force ourselves only to let ourselves feel the positive emotion.

The reality is that being a father is stressful and joyous. Being a special needs dad is scary and rewarding. A project at work is challenging and impactful. An upcoming presentation brings nervousness and excitement… nervou-citement.

By giving ourselves permission to feel multiple emotions at once, we can better navigate the complexities of life in a more honest, more effective way by dealing with everything we are feeling, not just the one emotion we think we should feel or the one that feels bigger.

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