I’ve been hugging my kids. It’s harder now, they’re 14 and 11, but I insist on hugging them. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t hugging them, although I suspect there was a span during their tantrum-filled 2s and 3s. I’ve always been hugging them, kissing them, holding them close, but in the aftermath of a national tragedy and mourning, the touch, the hug, the I love yous seem constant. And that is how it should be. I should be taking comfort in my family, I should be counting my blessings, I should be retreating to what really matters — family, togetherness, love.
I am now more mindful of the what I say to my children and that is a great thing.
But I also know that it is not sustainable. I know that I cannot parent as though every moment with my children is my last.
I just can’t. I need to disagree with my children, I need to speak to them sternly, I need to tell them, “Not now, mommy’s tweeting/watching The Bachelor/getting a manicure.” Sometimes I even need to snap and say things I will regret. I need to apologize to them and I need to have the privilege of believing that even if our conversation ends on a bad note, we will have time to reconcile, to reconnect, to have good times again.
I need what all parents need. I need to live in a world where our children will survive us, not the other way around. I need to have the possibility of a child dying not exist. It’s a fantasy. Of course it is. Who doesn’t wish for that?
At the end of the day, yes, of course, I hug my children. I hug them and I don’t want to let them go. I want to pretend that my arms can keep them safe, that it’s us against the world and so long as I can keep them within touching distance, we will be ok.
But I know it doesn’t work that way.
And it breaks my heart.