Raising kids alone is not an easy job. Since the last column in which we asked for advice from our readers, lots of wisdom has been offered. Letters and e-mails were sent from hard-working moms, who not only hold down the fort in their husbands' absence, but also raise the kids mostly alone. Despite their full schedules, they still found the time and energy to assist others with their own successes and failures. Some of you wrote about the things you did wrong, and hope that by sharing your mistakes you can help other families. All of you offered ways to make the miles and time apart less of a strain on your family life.
First, let's look at some of the things to avoid in a trucking marriage. The mother of three children (ages five, six, and nine) writes about her husband's unexpected stops. If she and the kids have a full weekend planned, he just has to sit home alone. However, she suggests that keeping the lines of communication open is important so that they can plan for time together. Although they would prefer to spend time with Dad, they can't cancel everything because of his schedule. "There's a lot going on when he's gone and the world doesn't stop because he comes home," she writes. Keeping him informed of the agenda is important to this trucker's wife.
A mother of an 18-year-old remembers when she used to "try and make my husband feel guilty for leaving us," by having her son put the pressure on him when it was time to go back on the road. She got older and wiser and stopped the guilt-trip game, but she hopes that other parents can learn from this and avoid her mistake. She also wishes that she could have allowed her son to accompany his dad in the truck, but company policy restricted it. She wished that their boy had the opportunity to spend time alone with Dad and to get a glimpse of his dad's lifestyle when he's working.
Lisa, the mother of three, wishes her husband would relieve her of some of her responsibilities when he gets home. She says she loves him with all her heart, but, "When you've given 110 percent of yourself all week and your husband comes home and says, ‘wash this,' ‘what's to eat,' and ‘I'm tired,' it can cause more frustrations." All she asks for is for him to "kiss me once in a while, tell me I look nice, ask me how my day was, take me to a movie, surprise me!" This advice would go a long way in helping any mom refuel after a long week.
Although we all make mistakes, we also have ways in which we make our families stronger. Two things seemed to be mentioned by the majority of women married to professional drivers. The first is that phone bills will be high, but the expense is worth the cost. Keeping Dad current on children's activities is very important. He needs to feel as if he is part of the daily activities, and he should have the option of scheduling his runs around their events if possible. Phone contact with the kids allows them to tell Dad about their day and allows him to handle something that only he can take care of. It's better to deal with it now than to wait a week or more for his arrival home. A cellular phone can also be a lifesaver when there's an emergency or a crisis that Dad needs to be aware of, even if Mom has already handled it.
The second recurring piece of advice was for Dad to spend time alone with each child when he can. Whether it means taking a son or daughter in the truck, or by scheduling one-on-one time with a youngster when he's home. This is crucial. Erin is the mother of two girls who are fortunate to have a daddy who reads to them, plays with them and helps with homework when he's home. They also plan family activities because, as Erin writes, "Children always remember the best and fun things that happen with the family."
The important thing to remember is that we are doing the best we can with what we have. Rebecca is a trucker's wife who is confined to a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis. She is thankful for her teenage children who help her each day. She also writes that her husband's carrier is very family-oriented and is sensitive to her health and the challenges the limitations bring. Rebecca, you are an inspiration to the rest of us with your positive attitude.
There are more things to remember when raising children while their daddy is on the road. Keep your letters and e-mails coming and we'll discuss more ways to deal with this situation in the next issue of Land Line.
Write to me at Ellen Voie, Land Line Magazine, P. O. Box L, Grain Valley, MO 64029 or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to include your name, as anonymous submissions will not be considered. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with others.