For the last few days, since the unthinkable horror in Connecticut, we've heard the phrase "hug your kids tighter tonight."
It's been spoken by friends, tossed around in the media. It's true. We should hug our kids tight, we should hug our friends and our family tight too. But, as parents, we should do something more. We need to be there for our children, really be there.
Here's what I mean: A while back, I took our son to a matinee. He was so excited, he could barely stand it. Sitting in the dark, in a big theater, watching "Winnie the Pooh" on a super huge screen. What kid wouldn't be in heaven? It was just a joy watching him take it all in.
Then, I glanced over at the mother and daughter near us. The little girl kept grabbing the arm rest and looking up at her mom when Roo or Piglet did something funny. The mom though, didn't seem to notice. She was on her iPhone. My heart sank. OK, I'm a first time mom - so, maybe, just maybe, this will all become old hat someday. And maybe, just maybe, that mom was a high power executive brokering a major merger. But, unless it was a deal for world peace, it wasn't worth it.
We all have hectic,crazy lives ... but, I think being present in our childrens' lives should be a requirement. Plus, what a joy! We need to be there for them - play with them, laugh with them, provide the firm hand, explain the rights and wrongs, notice their struggles, guide them through the challenges - or at least, provide them with the tools to make it through the challenges.
One day, my son, Will, grabbed me around the neck, kissed me and squeezed as hard as he could. Then, he looked at me and said "Mama, I love you tight." So yes, we should all hug our children tight. We also need to be there for them. Be present. It's worth it. It is so worth it.
Julia is a reporter for WRAL-TV and the mother of a preschooler. She starts writing for Go Ask Mom monthly today.