My husband has recently started driving a truck. He’s been on his own now for only about three months. We knew it would be hard, but I didn’t expect it to be this hard. We have a daughter that just turned five today. She is still in pre-kindergarten. She had been doing really well in school until recently. I’ve noticed a change in her behavior and in her schoolwork. She actually got in trouble yesterday. Her teacher said that it was unlike her. She told me on the way home yesterday that she was angry that her daddy was gone. I’m not quite sure how to handle it. Do you or anyone else out there have any advice?
Mother in Need
Dear Mother in Need,
As a mother of three young children, this is something I have worked on myself. I think the most important thing is to talk with her. Both you and your husband can play a big part in helping her to understand your lifestyle right now. The next time your husband is home, ask him to spend some quality time with her, one-on-one. Maybe they could go to the park or play a children’s board game. Have it be something that she really likes to do and make it a lot of fun for her. While they are together, he can try to ask her why she is angry that Daddy is gone. It may just be that she is actually sad that daddy is gone, and that makes her angry. Five-year-olds can be amazingly serious at times – if he explains that he is away because it is his job, and so that he can afford to pay for things that you all need, she may understand that. Other things that may help are frequent reassurances that Daddy is thinking of her on the road. This can be done in many ways depending on what she likes and what she will respond to.
Encourage her to come to you or your husband when she is sad or angry, and let her know that it is all right to feel that way, but that “We can get through the sad and angry times together.” Hand her the phone when Daddy calls and tell her that “Daddy called to talk to you”. (He can call you later, after she’s sleeping.) Have him pop a postcard or two in the mail while he is out on the road. What five-year-old wouldn’t love getting mail!? Make her a special pillowcase or cushion cover out of a Daddy T-shirt. She can decorate it with her Daddy using fabric paints. Do special projects with her when Daddy is away; bake cookies, or draw pictures for Daddy so that she can give them to him when he comes home. One more suggestion for Daddy…No matter how tired or cranky he will be when he finally gets home… Put on a giant grin and hug her tight when he gets home, she really needs to know that he missed her too!
I know that my trucker is only home for a couple of days every two-to-three weeks, but I would really like to get out of the house with him! I would love a romantic dinner, a movie, or even just an evening at someone else’s house for a change. Most of the time, he just brushes it off saying he’s tired and just wants to rent a movie, but I need some “couple” time with him, the couch excluded!
Sick of Microwave Popcorn
Dear Sick of Microwave Popcorn,
It’s easy for them to overlook how much we still need special time with them. They spend so much time alone that sitting on the couch and renting a movie is spending time with you. They work long, hard hours on the road, and I am sure that we can understand why they just want to enjoy “home” while they have the chance. The next time your trucker is home, officially ask him out on a date. Have a romantic dinner at home. Go the whole nine yards and dress up nice, light candles and put on romantic music. After dinner, go out to a show or something you both enjoy.
– Kelly Livingstone is the editor of ATruckersWife.com, a Web site dedicated to truckers’ wives and what’s important to them. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can send your questions and comments via snail mail to: Letters, Truck News, 12 Concorde Place, Suite 800, Toronto, Ont. M3C 4J2