Some years ago, back when my joints didn’t crack when I dragged myself off the couch, I was father to four little girls. The last two are twins and there’s just a bit more than three years separating all of them.
Each night, after supper, and after their baths, I’d lay on the rug in the living room and they’d jump all over me. I’d roll this way and that and growl like a bear and they’d laugh until they couldn’t catch their breath. They smelled of baby shampoo and talcum power.
Later, I’d sit on the couch and the four of them would sit on my lap. I’d smell their clean hair and read to them from Danny and the Dinosaur and Sammy the Seal, both by Syd Hoff, and perhaps the best books ever written for little kids. I’d change the stories a bit each night and they’d shout to correct me, “No, no, no! That’s not the way it goes.” And I’d tell them that those are the words in the book and that I wasn’t changing a thing, and in this way, the four of them wanted to learn how to read. To keep me honest.
I traveled to New York for the manufacturer’s rep in those days and when I came home late and they wondered what happened I would ask them if they hadn’t seen it on the news. “What Daddy?”
“You know that big tennis stadium that we pass in Brooklyn when we drive sometimes? The one that glows like a big balloon because they puff it up with air?” They nodded. “Well, there’s a plumbing supply house right next door to that place, and today one of the men drove his forklift into the big balloon. It was an accident, of course, but the balloon took off into the air and flew all over the sky. It landed across the highway and that’s why the traffic was backed up. And That’s why I’m late.”
“were the people still inside the balloon, Daddy?”
“Yes, and they were all wearing white shorts.”
They looked at me and at each other, and one would say, “That’s not true!” and I would look hurt. Another would ask, “Is it true?”
“Of course it is. Don’t you watch the news on the TV?” And in this way they became interested in current events. Can’t be too careful with those big tennis balloons.
They grew and they all went to school together and I would drive them there whenever I could. One day in early spring I had them look at the buds on the trees as we drove and I told them that it’s important for them to pay close attention to those buds because Lime Day was coming. I just cast it back there into the minivan and waited for one of them to bite.
“What’s Lime Day, Daddy?”
“What’s Lime Day? Are you serious?”
They looked at each other, each not wanting to be the only one not knowing, and once they agreed that it was safe to continue, one said, “We don’t know what that is?”
So I laughed and explained to them that Lime Day is a National holiday. It comes around once a year on the day when all the buds on all the trees are that absolutely perfect shade of lime. “It helps if it’s misting a bit on that day because a bit of mist makes lime even prettier.”
“What day is Lime Day, Daddy?”
“That’s the best part,” I explained. “Every kid gets to call Lime Day. You have to watch the trees very carefully, and you have to decide for yourself that it would be impossible for the leaves to be any more limey than they are right now. Then you call it and that’s it. Lime Day. The next day, the leaves are just boring green and they’ll stay that way all summer long.”
“But what if you call Lime Day and the next day is limier?”
“Well, then your sister wins and that makes you a loser,” I explained.
They looked at each other and said, “There’s no such day.”
“Of course there is,” I said, and as spring crept closer and closer to us that year, I convinced them that Lime Day was as real as the Fourth of July.
Now here comes the best part: As the weeks went by, they each went to their classes and told the other kids about Lime Day. The other kids told my kids that they were full of crap, of course, but in their hearts, those other kids wanted there to be such a day because it’s just the best thing going, so they went home and asked their parents. The kids explained Lime Day and the magnificent parents all lied right along with me. Wouldn’t you?
They came to see the beauty of nature in the paved-over, suburban world of Long Island and they carried it with them. In all the many years that have gone by since then, each of my daughters call in Lime Day each spring, no matter where she is in the world. I live for those calls.They came to see the beauty of nature in the paved-over, suburban world of Long Island and they carried it with them. In all the many years that have gone by since then, each of my daughters call in Lime Day each spring, no matter where she is in the world. I live for those calls.
Dan Holohan is a father of four. This blog was used with permission from a larger post by Dan Holohan, at Heatinghelp.com. To read the post in its entirety, please go to: https://heatinghelp.com/blog/sully/
Ask any Prime driver and he or she will tell you there are a number of ways to stay connect with family while gone from home. We’ve heard about Skype, Facetime, talking on the phone and special apps that make communication easier in remote locations. The important thing, they say, is to touch base on a regular basis.
Heide Kapinos knew she was signing up for a long-distance relationship complete with many forms of communication when she married her husband, Anthony. What she didn’t expect was to be sharing a cab with him as a long-haul driver herself. Although Anthony was positively encouraging about her ability to drive an 18-wheeler, Heidi resisted. However, Anthony was persistent and pointed out the many financial advantages of driving together, along with being able to avoid long separations. Eventually, she agreed to give it a try. She admits to some “tense moments” in training while she was learning to master many of the parking and backing maneuvers a driver must learn. Nonetheless, she made it happen and today spends nearly 24/7 together with Anthony in the truck.
Too Much Togetherness?
Heidi explains it is not like they’re together all the time. Although they occupy the same physical location, Heidi says their “together time” is really much less. “When I’m driving; he’s often sleeping and vice versa. Given this reality and the times we are loading or unloading, it really is much less.
Anthony and Heidi Eck have been together for four years. Together they have six children from their previous marriages. Anthony has three sons and one daughter; Heidi has one son, Hunter (20) and a daughter, Cheylee (18). Anthony’s oldest sons Tyler (22) and Colby 20) live with Heidi’s children in the same house. Anthony’s youngest children Savannah (11) and Carter (7) live with their mother.
Parenting from the Road
How do Heidi and Anthony make their over-the-road marriage and blended family parenting work?
It’s probably not surprising to learn that Heidi and Anthony use the typical technology (phones and web-based media) to stay in touch. It might be more surprising to learn they have cameras installed in their living room so they can observe what’s going on with young adult children. It’s their way to all be “together” even when they are geographically far apart.
The couple has high expectations for their four oldest children. “They pay rent to us if they’re not in school,” says Heidi. They are expected to have a job, pay their bills on time, including their cell phone bills.
The couple models good financial management themselves. They drive 6-8 weeks at a time before coming home for a week, and are open with their children about money-related matters. “We remind them about why we are gone. We are working toward goals from which they all will benefit.
With the “littles,” (what the couple affectionately calls Anthony’s younger two children, “constant communication” is key. Anthony calls every day before school and makes time for them a priority. Heidi says they often give gift cards to the “littles” for birthdays or special occasions. These are used when the younger two join their dad and Heidi on the truck for a few weeks in the summertime.
At home or over the road, Heidi says flexibility is key. When a driver comes home it can be both “difficult” and “lovely.”
“It’s wonderful to see them, but also difficult to have the routine disrupted,” she notes.
She encourages the at-home partner to remember the couple’s long-term goals and the importance of team effort. There’s little doubt that whether a couple is driving together or one partner is supporting the other from home, success is always a team effort.
It’s not easy when a good dad travels for work. He misses his family and they miss him. Yet, millions of dads travel or work away from home for extended periods of time. Some must travel as a requirement of their employment. Many like what they do, they just wish it didn’t require them to be absent so often. Those who do it successfully often credit the importance of their “home team,” i.e., their wife, their significant other, or the caregiver for their children.
Experts tell us that couples who go the distance together have a number of important characteristics. These include making the couple relationship a priority, taking the long-term view, making healthy sacrifices for each other, and preserving time for fun and friendship. After all, you didn’t really get married to solve problems—though that is part of life. You got together because you had fun, talked like friends, and enjoyed each other’s company.
At Good Dads, we have a special heart for husbands and fathers who travel and “dad at a distance.” We recently reached out to a number of women whose husbands drive over-the-road to ask about how they stay connected as a couple. What follows are words of wisdom from women who live the life and are happy to share what they’ve learned with other “home team” women.
The Importance of Regular Connection
Staying connected as a couple can be a challenge, but Melanie Borden says technology made it easier. Even so, establishing a regular routine is important. She notes that she and her husband, Paul, “talk every morning by phone, sorting out the day’s business and touching base to make sure everything is good. We will usually talk or text a couple of times a day and we Skype with the dogs and grandkids on the weekends, when he is not home. We weather the ups and downs of marriage and always end a call with a laugh or something upbeat.”
Brandy Howe, married for eight years to her driver husband, reports something similar and stresses the importance of making each other a priority. She says, “This is the most important to us. We start and end our day with each other. We talk first thing in the morning and end the day talking. No matter how crazy my day gets, I always stop and call at certain times throughout my day just to say ‘Hi’ and ask how his day is going. He’s the first person I talk to and the last person also. No matter how stressed or busy we get, we always make each other our top priority.”
Some technology may work better than others, especially in remote locations. Theresa “Alika” Radloff says her and her husband, Alan, prefer to use the phone app, Duo, to stay connected. She says, “Duo is a phone app that has a better video/audio as far as video chats go. We talk on that at least once a day so that we can see each other and somewhat feel like we are together under the same roof.” Sometimes this approach extends to a three-way Skype video call between Alan, her and the children who live with their mother in another state. This way all of them can communicate as a family.
Alika has some health challenges which interfere with spontaneous conversation, so she texts Alan about times when she will not be available so that he does not worry if she doesn’t answer the phone.
Brandi urges couples to “be unique and creative in finding ways that work” for them. She and her husband enjoy very similar interests, so while he is away they share links to videos or articles about hunting, archery and other interests. He listens to podcasts when he is driving, so they have conversations on the phone about what he has learned about upcoming elk hunting, archery, and other topics. Sharing interests and staying connected through those interests plays an important role in their successful marriage.
Solving Problems Together
One of the more difficult aspects of being apart from each other involves handling problems or potential areas of disagreement together. Some suggest these kinds of conversations take place in person, face-to-face, but when a driver is gone for several weeks at a time, this may not always be practical. Couples may also want to avoid using precious home time for handling potential conflict. For this reason, Alika recommends email. She says, “When there is something of importance that needs to be addressed, then we email each other. We do the email or text thing for two reasons: one, it’s in black and white; and two, if we need to go back to check on something that was said, neither of us can forget. Silly, I know, but it works.”
The Home Routine
Finally, Brandi underscores the importance of establishing a routine for when her husband is home. They typically have one full day a week together, so having a routine helps them “make the most of every hour. She says, “I know about what time he will be home each week, so I will be there to greet him and have made it part of my routine.” She says the couple also makes a practice of having a once a month date night or date day.
Love the Man Who Loves His Work
It might be easy for a woman to be angry or resentful when her husband is gone from her so much of the time. However, we didn’t find a shred of bitterness or self-pity from these “women of steel.” Perhaps Alika summed it up best. “I have been asked time and time again why does he leave me home alone while he stays out on the road all the time. The answer is simple. He has his dream job and I would never take him from that, at least not unless I am completely handicapped where I cannot do anything on my own. I know not many people nowadays get that opportunity. He is one of the lucky few able to achieve his dream before he is too old to do anything at all. I am proud of him and will stick by him through this adventure of life. We will always talk and keep in touch with each other no matter what part of the USA he is at the time.”
Dr. Jennifer Baker
Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She may be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“No thank you. I’ve had an excellent sufficiency. Anymore would be a superfluous animosity. However, your cuisine would please the most fastidious gourmet.”
These are the words my father taught us to say when we had had enough to eat. We learned this expression when my sister exclaimed, “I’m so full I’m about to bust,” at the dinner table.
“Young ladies and gentlemen," he said, “do not express themselves in this way.” And then he offered the above alternative. We really were not certain what it meant, but we memorized and used it because it was a lot more fun to say—specially to extended family and visitors, than the “about to bust” declaration.
My father’s admonition was mostly tongue-in-cheek. He didn’t really expect us to use the “excellent sufficiency” statement on every occasion. After all, we were farm kids and dinner was hardly a formal affair. Nonetheless, my parents expected us to learn and practice good manners. Polite conduct, they believed, would help us make our way in life.
And so we learned how to sit at the table, the proper way to use silverware, to place our napkin in our lap, and how to ask for something we wanted. No one picked up a fork until everyone was seated and grace said. At the end of the meal, we requested to be excused before we left our seats. We were expected to eat at least a small bite of everything and express our appreciation to the hostess (typically our mother). Rude or rowdy behavior was strongly discouraged, but good conversation was welcomed.
By today’s less formal standards, it might seem as though those farm family dinners were restrictive, but I recall them fondly. As the five of us (my sister, brother, mother, father and I) enjoyed a meal we all helped produce, we often laughed, talked and shared stories of our day. I’m sure I took it for granted at the time, but years’ later friends remarked to me about how much they enjoyed sharing dinner time with us. Good manners, that is, the courteous way we were trained, encouraged and required to treat each other, were part of this.
My husband and I also thought it important to teach our children good mealtime manners. We were familiar with the research on the importance of family dinner time to a child’s well-being (e.g., children do better academically who eat dinner with their families several nights a week). I’d like to say it was a joy to teach them table manners, but it wasn’t always fun or easy. Children, it seems, have many peculiar habits related to food, eating and “natural gas.” I’m not certain why belching and farting is such fun activity when the family is gathered, but this was the way of things at our house. We tried to get them to “squelch a belch” or “silence flatulence” and they told us they were about to explode. Eventually, we ceased our efforts to stop them, borrowed from my father’s creative instruction, and simply required them to do one of two things: 1) Go outside and run around the entire house three times while we watched from the window; or 2) Stand at the far end of the house inside and count to 100 loud enough for all of us to hear before returning to the table. Either way, the inconvenience of interrupting one’s dinner to exercise or recite greatly diminished the fun of farting at mealtime.
Today when our family gathers, there are six adults and eight children. Learning and demonstrating good manners is part of that activity. We enjoy each other’s company. We linger at the dinner table. We compliment the host. The adults are in pretty good form when it comes to courteous behavior; the kids have a ways to go, but they’re learning. It’s not easy to teach children how to conduct themselves at the dinner table. Sometimes it feels both frustrating and fruitless, but learning how to do so can go a long way to creating and increasing self-confidence in our young people.
Think about how you want your children to relate to others. With what kind of people—adults and children—do you prefer to spend your time? Do your children have the skills to competently manage an enjoyable meal with others? How would you like them to behave? Get together with your spouse or support system and talk about how you can work together to make 2019 a year of good manners.
Dr. Jennifer Baker
Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She may be reached for question or comment at email@example.com.
Robert Hullett has been with Prime nearly two years—7 months driving accompany truck and more recently, as a lease operator. He currently drives a 2016 Peterbilt and is looking forward to upgrading to a 2019 Peterbilt soon. He drives a “reefer” (refrigerator trailer). During the last two years, Robert has learned a lot about making money, saving money, and setting aside time to be with family—all skills and information he shares as a trainer with new drivers at Prime. As a solo driver, he says he averages $4000-$7500/week [gross revenue] depending on how the loads run the proximity of delivery sites between pick up and drop off.
Before coming to Prime, Robert worked for 25 years in warehousing, so he has a good understanding of the shipping and receiving side of trucking. He has done it all – loading, unloading, reception, shipping and receiving, and describes coming to Prime as a career boost. He hopes to have a long career with Prime and eventually move to a position as fleet manager, a job for which he believes he is well qualified with his background in warehousing. Even so, he sees himself as continuing to learn every day on the most financially rewarding loads and freight lanes.
Robert has researched and thought about driving a truck for more than 20 years—according to him, since he was in the sandbox. He was influenced by the fathers of friends, who also drove a truck. He also credits his desire to drive to wanting to provide in the best way possible for his family.
Robert has three daughters – two he shares with his fiancée, ages 6- and 9-years-old. During the summer months, he does the best he can to arrange time to take them with him—something the girls really enjoy. When possible, he arranges loads with his family on the truck and they go on vacation together.
Robert stays connected with his loved ones in through his cell phone. When he’s not driving, he uses video chat and Facebook. His goal is to use a video camera focused on him while he’s driving (a vlog) allowing his family to see what he is doing while he’s driving without him seeing them, thus eliminating distractions for him while he’s on the road. He loves the idea of sharing his view from the road, including many of his scenic vistas, with his fiancée and daughters at home.
Reflecting on the lyrics of “Barbed Wire and Roses,” Robert acknowledges that “being a truck driver can ruin a family because if you’re not home, you miss out on so much.” He’s realistic about the challenges drivers face in staying connected with their loved ones, but continues to remain optimistic about ways to stay in touch.
Advice to New Drivers
Robert has trained close to 50 drivers, so he has had more than a few opportunities to pass along words of encouragement and wisdom to new drivers. Here are a few of his thoughts:
1) Use cameras, video chatting and even make a video diary to stay in touch with loved ones.
2) Budget time and finance for home time.
3) Let your family know how important they are to you. Robert has named his LLC after his three daughters.
4) Keep family members informed. Let them know what’s going on with you. Talk frequently.
5) Consider allowing your partner to handing the bookkeeping so you’ll both know what’s going on.
6) Stay flexible in your thinking and approach to the challenges you face, e.g., sometimes it’s possible to stop by for a brief visit with your kids when your route runs near home.
As the driver of an 18-wheel tanker hauling food grade products, John Ogren is familiar with “surge.” He might be hauling anything from liquid chocolate to grape juice to soybean oil; it doesn’t make much difference when he needs to stop his truck. At that moment, several thousand pounds of liquid in the unbaffled tank of his truck comes surging forward, shaking his cab in a dramatic way. (Check out John’s YouTube video at https://youtu.be/eq6JyrvfpDg.) According to John, you can minimize the impact of surge with some driving maneuvers, but you can’t eliminate it. It comes with driving a tanker truck.
John Ogren has been driving for Prime for three years. Although he initially started as a long-haul driver, he quickly moved to driving a designated route hauling food grade products. Initially his schedule took him home mostly on the weekends. Since he’s moved to northern Indiana, he’s home nearly every night. “I only slept in my truck two times in the last month,” John claims.
Life on the road as a long haul driver can be difficult, but life as a regional driver is not without its challenges. “I never know,” John says, “exactly when I’ll be called into work the next day. I find out my schedule the night before and I may discover I have to leave home at 4 a.m. This makes it difficult for my family to count on me to do most things any night of the week. I may think I’ll be home, but I can get held up in some way that puts me home later than I thought. When that happens, I have a short turn-around time before I get rested up and get back out on the road.”
Although he no longer drives over-the-road like he did when he first started with Prime, John does know something about trying to stay connected with his family when he can’t be there in person. This is especially important to him as the father of a 17-year-old daughter who enters her senior year in high school in August 2018. Like many dads, he wants to be there for her and her Betty, his wife of 20 years.
John knows a thing or two about “surge” in his personal life—that unexpected force threatening to knock you down when circumstances bring you to an unexpected halt. He didn’t always drive a truck. He started out in radio and spent 17 years on the air mostly in the area of sports casting. When the Great Recession hit in 2008, John knew he had to do something different to support his family, so he got his CDL and began driving a school bus. He soon figured out he could supplement his income if he drove the charter bus to school athletic events and served as the sports broadcaster for that activity. Although he enjoyed using his talents in many ways, when John became aware of an opportunity to have one job instead of three, as a driver for Prime he jumped at the chance.
Life can shake a person up at times in unexpected ways. John has found staying connected with his wife and daughter essential to staying grounded. He talks with Betty when he’s on the road and texts with his daughter Anna. He says he’s had to increase the data usage on his phone, but he sees this cost as critical to staying on top of communication with his family.
Just as you can’t prevent surge, you also can’t prevent the headaches and hassles of life on the road. However, staying in touch with what is happening and having realistic expectations make a big difference when it comes to minimizing the impact of surge and other times when “life happens.”
John Ogren is a driver for Prime Inc. in Springfield, MO.
You may have heard it said that behind every great man there’s a great woman. Perhaps that is nowhere more true than for men who spend much of their time on the road, away from home, in difficult conditions. It’s true for men in the armed forces. It’s also true for men who drive a long-haul truck. Our country’s economy depends on trucking. Successful over-the-road (OTR) drivers often depend on a supportive woman at home.
Carolyn Mantor is one of these women. Melanie Borden is another. Josh-the-Dad and I recently spoke at length with both of them about what it’s like for them to be in a committed relationship with a man who drives an eighteen wheeler. Carolyn and her fiancé have a blended family with 12 children between the two of them—three are hers, one is still at home. She has been involved with the transportation industry for eight years personally; and in a relationship with her fiancé, a driver, for two.
“You get made for this sort of thing,” she says. “Our relationship has grown very well even with the distance between us. You learn to communicate over the phone and get closer that way. You can pick up things from his voice and you learn to ask, ‘What’s the matter?’”
Melanie has been married to her husband for 40 years and he’s been driving over the road since 2004. She’s worked for Steelman Transportation since 2005. The couple has adult children and four grandchildren. “The honeymoon happens,” she says, “when he comes home. In between times, I can get my house clean and my life in order. Then he comes home and we have wonderful chaos.”
Both Carolyn and Melanie appreciate trucking for the good living it has provided for their families. They also recognize the difficulties. For example, the lack of respect accorded to drivers concerns them. Different gun laws in different states create some scary situations in which their loved one is very vulnerable. “You hear horror stories. They’re out there alone and there are some bad people there.”
They also note the danger of distracted driving, something their guys see every day. Both report their husbands see drivers on their phones almost constantly. “If you cannot see their mirrors,” they note, “they can’t see you. It takes them 500 feet to stop—don’t tailgate them.”
Carolyn and Melanie also know how critical they are to their partner’s success on the road. It’s vital to their partners to have a strong person at home, a person who is also strong and able to manage in his absence. Melanie takes care of all her husband’s banking, paperwork, and contracts. She also takes care of the house but draws the line at climbing up on the roof or crawling under the house. She says she understands the transportation industry and does her best to do everything she can for him while he’s on the road.
“We talk every morning on my way to work,” offers Melanie. “We also touch base throughout the day. We are on the phone a lot.”
“It’s the same with us,” remarks Carolyn, “We’re on the phone all day long.” Apparently, those countless calls have made an impression on their kids, as Carolyn’s 19-year-old daughter has been known to say, “You guys are like teenagers; it’s ridiculous.”
“You’ve got to keep that sense of romance,” Carolyn affirms. “They’re alone out there and it’s hard. There are times when we don’t say anything on the phone . . . when there are just 10 minutes of silence, but he knows I’m there. That’s the important thing.”
When He Comes Home
Yes, there’s a “honeymoon” of sorts when he comes home, but it can be challenging to adjust to another adult in the house. A lot depends on your perspective. Carolyn describes her fiancé as “the glue” for their blended family.” When he comes home,” she says, ”he does a great job of trying to keep up with everyone. There are lots of family members nearby and he often goes where he’s told with lots of input from family. He makes the time even if it’s only for an hour . . . it’s a group effort.”
Melanie, her kids, and grand-kids stay connected by video chat when her husband is on the road, but when he gets home they get together often. With four grandchildren and five dogs is a crazy time, but they love cooking out in any kind of weather and enjoying lots of good food together.
Advice to Wives and Sweethearts of Truck-Driving Dads
Melanie and Carolyn clearly know a thing or two about how to make a relationship with a truck-driving man a success, so I asked them what words of advice they would give to other women with over-the-road partners. Here’s what they said:
Melanie and Carolyn agree, “These are really good guys who are doing a hard job. They deserve our respect and support.” We, at Good Dads, agree and we know their employer, Steelman Transportation, agrees as well.
Russ Gosselin is the founder and executive director of Elevate Lives. He is also a husband and father. Elevate Lives equips and mobilizes good-hearted people in Springfield, Missouri to come alongside those living in low-income neighborhoods, helping them to thrive in every aspect of their lives. When you learn about the work of Elevate Lives you’ll notice that their serious mission is accompanied by fun and celebration, the kind that helps people build relationships. Russ sees this perspective as key to being a good dad.
Russ and Sharon, his wife of nearly 35 years, are the parents of two grown children, Joseph, 30, and Janell, 27. When it comes to laughter, lecture, and love, Russ describes himself as an “80/20 kind of guy,” with a strong focus on squeezing every ounce out of life (80%), reserving only a small portion (20%) for serious moments of possible “lecture.” He claims, “I couldn’t be perfect, so I decided to be loving and fun.”
When his children were young, Russ frequently introduced love and laughter into their night time routine. Kneeling beside their bed he talked to them softly about how important it was for them to be quiet and fall asleep while, at the same time, he surreptitiously tickled them under the covers. The children loved it, but Russ admits their uncontrolled laughter sometimes caused Sharon to call, “Gosselin, what are you up to?” from the adjoining room.
When things weren’t going well, i.e., when a lecture or some other kind of serious discussion was needed, Russ often invited his kids to join him in the truck. Together they would make a quick trip to a fast food place, because—as Russ puts it, “Ice cream fixes a lot of things.” In a more serious vein, Russ noted, that in addition to planned “dates” with his children, spontaneous trips to Chipotle with his daughter were often the foundation for more serious discussions.
“We had an agreement,” he said. “I buy the food and you talk.” It worked and it stuck. Although Janell is grown, married and gone from home, she recently called her dad from Georgia and told him a new Chipotle had just opened in Augusta.
“Dad,” she said. “Let’s both go to Chipotle at the same time—you there and me here—and we’ll FaceTime each other.”
Not a bad idea for a dad and kid who want to stay connected, even when they’re miles apart.
Russ Gosselin is the founder and executive director of Elevate Lives. He is also a husband and father.
When Tony Capraro says driving a big rig runs in the family, he’s serious. Both his mother and father, his grandfather, his sisters and younger brother all drove an 18-wheeler at some point in their lives. “It’s in my blood,” he claims. “It’s what I know how to do. Even as a very young child, when my dad came home I ran and sat in his seat with my hands on the steering wheel.”
Like many drivers, Tony likes the freedom of driving a truck and being his own boss in terms of how he spends his time. He also says, “The money is good, but you’ve got to keep moving.”
Tony drives a flatbed truck for Steelman Transportation. He’s been driving for at least 8 years since he turned 21-years-old. He hauls many things and enjoys his work, but doesn’t much care for “tarping” a load. He probably has company in that area.
Today Tony’s boys see him behind the wheel. He is the dad to Matt (7) and Clayton (1). It’s not always easy to stay in touch with young children while driving over the road, but Tony makes it a priority. “I call and talk to my son every night,” he explains, “and every morning I get photos from my son’s mother. He hears my voice every single day.”
One of the biggest challenges Tony faces is the fact he’s not in a committed relationship with the mothers of either of his sons. One boy’s mother makes it very easy for Tony to stay in touch. It’s more difficult with the other son’s mom. It’s a difficult thing to talk about, but Tony was willing to share his story because he knows many over-the-road truckers face the same challenge.
“A decent relationship with the mother of your child is critical to a dad having access, especially if the child is young,” he says.
Tony does his best to get home to his son every two-four weeks. “When I get to my house,” he says about the mother of one son, “she’s there as soon as I hit the driveway, no questions asked.” This clearly means a lot to Tony.
Tony admits having dad gone a lot is not easy for kids. He should know since his dad was a trucker as well. At the same time, many children have fathers who cannot be with them as much as they like, e.g., children with fathers in the military, or who travel a lot for business. Some fathers live in the same home with their children, but rarely give them focused attention. Fathers who travel might be encouraged to know that their desire to be with their children is the most important thing, i.e., even if they can’t be present in person, their interaction via FaceTime, texting, etc. reassures a child of his value and importance to his dad.
Advice to Truckers on Broken Relationships
When it comes to staying in touch with your children when you’re driving over the road, especially if you’re not in a committed relationship with the mother of those children, Tony encourages:
Tony Capraro is a Steelman driver and a father of two.
Larry Hinex describes himself as “a pretty simplistic guy,” driving for Prime with a goal of earning enough money to help his daughter, Jakeisha, who is in college pursuing a degree in a law-related field. Larry also has two sons, Larry and R.J., who are out on their own. He was born and raised in Oklahoma City. The day we spoke with him he was driving a flatbed truck loaded with water pipes somewhere in southern Texas.
Larry has been driving for Prime for nearly two years—his first experience as an over-the-road driver. He claims his Uncle Rick was his inspiration for truck driving. When he was a boy, his uncle took Larry and his dad along with him on a trip to Dallas. He recalls watching his uncle on that trip and thinking how “cool” he was talking on the CB and handling his rig. From that time on, he says, he had a secret desire to drive a truck. Finally, years later, with encouragement from a friend he overcame his fears and pursued his dream.
You might not expect someone who was once a personal trainer to choose driving an 18-wheeler as an occupation, but Larry says it’s possible to stay physically fit and he works hard to have a healthy lifestyle while on the road. Sometimes this means exercise he does by himself at a truck stop. Other times, it means parking near a gym or fitness club and taking advantage of the various machines and activities offered there. In fact, Larry reports finding his “sanity” and “peace of mind” in the gym. He acknowledges that even though he loves driving, it can sometimes be a lonely job. This is why he believes it’s so important for a driver to take care of himself physically, mentally, spiritually and relationally.
Maintaining a good relationship with his kids is also important to Larry. He’s home for a week about once a month. When he’s home, Larry enjoys hanging out with his kids watching a movie, going to the beach, or traveling to see things. One of his favorite memories occurred when his children were young and his daughter hooked a 70 lb. catfish near the Panama Canal. He still laughs thinking about that event. “Being former Navy,” he says, “I’m used to living in a lot of places. I don’t know how to sit down.”
When he’s on the road Larry frequently uses social media to help him to stay connected with his family. Even though his kids are grown and out on their own, he wants to be supportive of them. He sees cell phones, FaceTime, texting and Facebook Messenger as being critical to staying in touch with all of them.
When asked how he tries to be a good dad over the road, Larry responded, “Stay engaged. Stay Engaged. Stay engaged.” He also gave the following suggestions for maintaining overall well-being.
1) Find your peace while on the road. Do your best to stay physically fit. Make time to work out at your truck or in the gym if at all possible.
2) Read books. Larry recommends reading the Bible, among others.
3) Listen to YouTube. There are lots of interesting things to learn about.
4) When possible, attend a “Truck Driver Church.”
5) Hold yourself accountable to the goals you set for yourself and the kind of man you want to be.