In a world that has men constantly under attack, it is easy to feel defeated. Sometimes it feels like the world is out to destroy the role of father and husband in the home. Over-The-Road dads, step-dads, and grandfathers feel the pressure more than most. We are away from home nearly as much as our brave men and women serving in our nation’s military, yet we are often looked down upon, ridiculed, and at times labeled a “poor dad” or “bad” father. We know this is not the case! The majority of us are sacrificing time with our families to provide for our families. It is fair to assume that most OTR drivers would trade a fulfilling career that supported our homes and provided the vast amount of opportunities that comes with being a professional driver just to be home every night!
My name is Devon Magruder, a 32 year-old devoted man of God, married to my beautiful young bride, Heather Magruder. I am a step-dad to her son Jared and our two loving and beautiful granddaughters Phynixx (10) and Harliegh (7). I’ve been driving OTR for a little over two years. Without writing a novel on our family’s history, the granddaughters live at our house on weekdays during the school year. While they are under my roof, I steward the father role. One way I do this is by investing time with my bride and the girls. The motto “do your homework” resonates to me as a husband and a grandfather because I believe it is good to know your family’s interests. In this case, “do your homework” doesn’t just mean to turn in math worksheets on time; it means participating in others’ passions. What better way to engage with your family and invest time than by participating in something they love and that you took the time to be knowledgeable about?
For example, Phynixx is a fan of Pokémon, so I have taken the time to learn all the Pokémon, their names, what they do etc., as well as to make sure I’m updated on new characters and games. My bride has her favorite franchises as well, which is easy to stay caught up with since we have so many similar interests. She and my mother-in-law love plants and gardening, so I’m always looking for new and beautiful plants that we don’t have in Missouri. Harliegh has yet to show any personal interests but loves knock-knock jokes. I’m always looking up new ones to have at the ready. Investing in our family has been a successful way to monitor what the kids are involved in and watching without coming across as a prison warden. That has been flat-out rewarding for me!
My goal is to stay engaged and not be a hindrance or distraction.
As a driver, I often hear “How do you keep from being the “Disney Dad?” The major thing my wife and I do is set expectations. We stress that these expectations don’t change while I’m home. I also take part in my family’s routine as soon as I get home. I wake up before they do, get them breakfast and take them to school. I also pick them up while I’m home. My goal is to stay engaged and not be a hindrance or distraction. The fact I am off the road does not guarantee we go to an amusement park. Most times we stay around the house and play outside.
For example I bought a cheap bag of little figures that you find in 25 cent machines and a couple of Pokéballs. I hid them around the yard like Easter eggs, and then when the girls found one, I gave them a physical task to do in order to “catch” the Pokémon. These tasks were anything from jump rope to jumping jacks. The girls are also into Jurassic Park, and we are already in possession of Nerf guns. I purchased cheap dinosaur figures from the Dollar Store to place around our yard. We acted as if we were park rangers chasing escaped dinos. Both of these activities cost me under fifty dollars, and we all enjoyed playing together for a major part of the day!
Spending time with the children is very important to me, but I also make time to take my bride out to lunch or dinner date, just the two of us. We get dressed up and go out just like we did when we first started dating. This doesn’t have to be extravagant, but something a little more than McDonald’s.
My hope is that my method of staying engaged with my family, on and off the road, gives you aid.
My hope is that my method of staying engaged with my family, on and off the road, gives you aid. It’s not perfect, and I could give a thousand other examples, but we’re men, so let’s keep it simple! Invest in your family and take part in their routine when you’re home.
A message to the dads out there. Your only competition is the man you see in the mirror every morning. If you can look at him and confidently say, “I am better than I was yesterday,” then you are winning. The biggest part of the journey to becoming better at anything is in the first step. Now all you need is the determination to hold fast and stand your ground, or move forward and progress. Though I don’t know you, I say, “I’m proud of you.”
May God Bless you and your family.
Devon Magruder – Prime Driver and Dino Catcher Extraordinaire