by Jill Patir
Two weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. That’s the amount of time I was without my beloved daughter while my husband took her on a trip to visit his family in Israel. Though this wasn’t her first time to make the 7,000-mile and 14-hour trek to the other side of the globe, it was the first time she had done it without me. It was, in fact, the first time she had traveled anywhere without me. And it was, by an additional ten days, the longest that I had ever been away from her.
On the surface, this all sounds fantastic. When I explained to others that my husband was taking her without me, their reactions varied from shock and awe, to pure admiration, sprinkled with a little jealousy.
“Two weeks all to yourself? That sounds great,” they said. “I would love a quiet house for that long.”
“Your husband actually wants to take her without you? You’re so lucky,” I heard.
While the details of me not going on the trip are a bit complicated, I knew staying behind wouldn’t be easy. I struggled immensely with not being in charge of her day-to-day coming and going. Who would get her dressed in the morning? What would she eat every day? Would she be able to sleep well? How would her little body adjust to the eight-hour time difference? I was awake night after night worrying about the most minute details, making mental to-do lists that seemed endless, and trying to imagine what it would be like to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night without her sweet face there.
It sounded terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. I didn’t want two weeks to myself. I didn’t want a quiet house. And I didn’t want my husband to take her without me.
Let me clarify that my worrying had nothing to do with me questioning my husband’s ability to take care of our daughter. He is, and always has been, an incredible father. And I was confident that our extremely verbal (read: demanding) two-year-old would make her needs known. It was just that I was so used to being in charge of her overall well-being. As the primary caretaker, I had become accustomed to taking her needs on as my own, so what would happen to her while I wasn’t around?
What I finally realized was that my real worry was what would happen to me while she wasn’t around.
I knew I would be sad. I knew I would be lonely. I knew I would feel empty, but deep down, I wanted to be able to get past that. I wanted to get to the point where I would wake up and enjoy the quiet. I wanted to be able to embrace the freedom of coming and going on my own time, without a two-year-old in tow.
But that never happened.
Embarrassingly, I had to move her sound machine into my room at night to combat the quiet and stillness in my empty house. I missed looking around and seeing her toys strewn about. I missed having a little buddy to keep me company on my errands. I cried. A lot.
But despite all of that, something unexpected happened.
Up until then, I had been afraid of having a second child. It wasn’t the typical, cliché fear of not being able to love another child as much as my first, but I just didn’t want to share my time with another child. I wasn’t sure I had the mental capacity to give my daughter a sibling.
Until I realized how deep my love for my daughter was. When she came back and I laid my eyes on her at the airport, I fell in love all over again. Not that I ever stopped loving her, and not that I ever doubted how much I loved her, as it was an all-consuming love, but seeing her after two weeks was almost the same feeling I had as when I saw her that first time on the day she was born. A feeling that can only be described as euphoric.
You know the old theory that it only takes one time to learn how much touching a hot stove hurts? And after that you know you don’t want that feeling ever again?
This is the exact opposite of that. I want that euphoric feeling again. I want to be in love with another baby the same way I love my first baby. I want to look into a little tiny human being’s eyes and know that I would go to the ends of the earth for him or her.
I want a second child. I recognize that wanting another child and actually having another child are far different things, but at least now I know, in the deepest parts of my heart, that I truly do want to have a second baby. But just for the record, I’d like that second baby to remain in the same country as I am for any length of time. No two-week trips away necessary.
Jill Patir is a first-time mom trying to figure things out one day at a time. Born and raised in Houston, she ventured to the University of Arizona to earn her degree in Elementary Education. After graduating, she returned to Houston where she taught for seven years before deciding to pursue her passion of being a writer. Her writing aims to portray an honest and open approach to life. Sometimes it is what nobody else is willing to say that inspires Jill to speak up on those topics!