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The news out of Connecticut has affected all of us. We may not know the victims, but we do know one thing:

It hit all of us as if those kids were our own.

Because it could happen anywhere. I cannot comprehend the loss those families are enduring. Sending your child off to school one morning, as routine as any other, and they don’t come home. Walking by their bedroom and seeing the rumpled covers where they had innocently slept the night before. The crusts of their toast and half-empty glass of orange juice where they ate their last breakfast. How do you go from putting your toothless, bouncing 6-year-old on the bus only to never see them return?

It makes my heart sad.

I first heard the news Friday morning while running errands on my day off. A friend from the radio station where I work text me and frantically explained what happened. I sat in my car in disbelief, frozen in emotion and wondered what those parents must be experiencing. Fear. Worry. Hysterics. All of the above. I wanted to be with my own children, two boys who love school and would never think such violence could happen in their own classrooms. I felt a need to be with my family, and received a call from my sister who repeated the same.

Ever since the tragedy, I have a different perspective. Maybe more patience. More engaged. More appreciation for the two unique boys I am raising. I’m more grateful.

Because we all held our kids a little tighter that night.

The tragedy has forever changed the lives of many, and I’m not sure how they will move on. Seems impossible. It has also made me a better mom.

As I gratefully watched my 2nd grader step off the bus that Friday afternoon with a smile and hop down the sidewalk, I thought of the parents who wouldn’t. I hugged and kissed him a good 80 times, and thought of those who couldn’t. I easily ignored the loud volume as he watched cartoons, thinking of those who will adjust to the eerie quiet.

I played in the basement with my kids as we waited for their dad to come home, giggling over a game of dodgeball and during breaks to catch our breath I told them how much they were loved.

I awoke the following morning to my youngest pouncing on our bed and announcing, ‘Snuggle time!’ and thought of the parents who wished to hear those words. I was happy to get up earlier than planned to make pancakes for my family, and watched my boys eat while talking about what video game they wanted to play and who would win and what they hoped to get for Christmas. Including that hamster.

I took it all in.

Because I may not always be able to. And simply because I could. I think we all did. I also think someone’s getting a hamster.

Today, I’m thinking of the parents who have to figure out how to live WITHOUT those they lived FOR. Where do they begin?

How has the tragedy changed the way you parent?