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I didn’t recognize the silence for what it was until he returned from his summer of travel.  But once the silence was finally broken, it was hard to believe that I didn’t see it all along.

 

In hindsight, the silence was deafening.  It was right there in front of me for four weeks straight.  It changed the vibe of the house, it left me unsettled, and, although they didn’t verbalize it as such, it left the kids unsettled too.

 

The silence changed everything.

 

When my husband travels for long stretches, I go under.  I hide out, I play with my kids non-stop, and I do my best to somehow fill the void for them.  The phone goes unanswered.  The email piles up.  The mail is opened in order of importance.

 

I focus on the small moments of greatness before me.  I enjoy every moment with my little ones instead of waiting for him to return.  When you wait, time stands still.  When you enjoy what you have, time flies.

 

(If only it could be the other way around.)

 

In my quest to enjoy my everything, the silence went somewhat unnoticed.

 

On his second day home, it hit me.  The silence was the cause of the discomfort that occurred every once in a while during those four weeks.  In his absence, the quiet moments that we so often enjoy felt large and overwhelming.  The quiet moments seemed to scream, “Daddy is away!  Please send him home!”

 

Upon his return, the silence seemed to disappear…

 

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About Katie

Katie Hurley is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She works in private practice in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, writes for PBS Parents, Washington Post Parents, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2015) and the forthcoming "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" (Penguin Random House, 2018)