Pixar Counseling for College Moms


Those Pixar people? They have storytelling nailed.

Every single time they get it right and their latest story just might be my favorite so far. Inside Out is brilliance for the price of a movie ticket. If you haven’t had the privilege, cancel all plans and see it today. I’ll even go with you because twice is not enough.

So many things about Inside Out make my story loving heart beat fast. But the biggest takeaway is that joy and sadness are often held together in the weight of the same moment. And it takes some hard and heavy work to let both stand at the controls together.

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”
–Brandon Sanderson


Tears are pooling at the exact time as loads of laughter these hot summer days. It’s weird.

How does a mother absorb in her memory the presence of her son? How does she collect his deep voice and sarcastic grin for the future when the house once again quiets by a third?

How does a mother cherish the gestures repeated a thousand times, the tussle of the hair, the scratch on the back, the squeeze of an arm? How does she let go gracefully, while joy and sadness are duking it out over the control panel?

Another example of Pixar awesomeness (
Proof that we've loved Pixar since the beginning. And because this is my all time favorite.
Proof that we’ve loved Pixar since the beginning. And because this is my all time favorite.

In exactly one month, there will be 2 cars packed for the long drive to Texas. And then we’ll be standing in front of our son, saying goodbye. I’ve done this once before and I know the ache that is waiting to settle in like influenza of the heart.

Memories of story roll randomly across the movie screen in my mind and the lump that develops in my throat threatens to choke, even while I chuckle. 

The memory of holding toddler weight against my chest during early morning coffee time that he couldn’t resist interrupting. The giggling 4-year-old in batman underwear with the w for r substitution speech error. The buzz cuts, the Legos, the mountain of books read aloud. Scenes of a little man who loved to play hard, yet always wanted to be home at the end of the day.

There are 19 years of shared story memories lining up like bowling balls and I’ve been a major character up to this point.  This, I know from experience, is about to change.

But it’s this point in the story that we’ve been working toward and what a joy it is. Though it doesn’t mean that sadness won’t have her day. I’m just saying to walk with the weight of both is proving a hard balancing act in the now.

It’s the shortening of that long line of shared stories that I’m going to grieve, all the ordinary life stuff.  I’ll miss his retelling of the day and late night requests for a chocolate shake. His sharing of music and The Office quotes. The routine coordinating of schedules and add ons to the grocery list. Do I dare even say I’ll miss the teasing of the sister and the associated button pushing?

How does a mother hold on and let go at the same time? I’m going to take my cue from our Pixar friends and do my best with both. In the meantime, a few more stories are waiting at the lake and in the car and on the couch. Soak ’em in fellow mamas.

FullSizeRender-33 copy FullSizeRender

2 thoughts on “Pixar Counseling for College Moms

  1. Wonderful wonderful. I got to see Inside Out this weekend. It was so good and I came away with the same impact of joy and sadness combined that struggle for control but that makes the memory. Love your last days before college with your young man, because you’re right it will never be the same……..good maybe great, but never the same. Love you Sweetheart.

  2. I was going to wait to read this until after we see Inside Out (on the calendar so that Tim can attend as well) this Wednesday. But then I couldn’t help myself and went ahead and read! Kel, you and I are both about to be thrown right off that tube float behind a racing boat! 22 days! See you then:)

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