Robin Hartkopf aka Mrs. H
by Robin Hartkopf
(Sauk Rapids, MN, US)
Hi everyone, I've talked to most of you, but I suppose I could be a little more forthcoming to what brought me here and what it's like for me as a trucker's wife.
My husband and I met on match.com and have been married for 5 years this coming March. We met when I was 32 and he was 38....I already had 2 kids and a house, all the stuff...he had a house with 5 acres out in the country....we sold my house and moved out to his HUGE house (he had 1 piece of furniture in every room, just to make it look lived in).
We were so happy to have our life starting out with such great beginnings. Chuck adopted my older 2 kids when we got married (like the Monday after) and all was right with the world...then, he was laid off...after 10 years at the same company.
He's been a printer for 22 years. We lost our house and decided to move to Wisconsin. We had a LOT of tattoo customers out there from events that we've done, and they promised a lot of business. So, we decided it was as good a time as any.
We bought a house out there and I got a job as a banker in Hudson....blah blah blah...the shop did good, but not enough to replace his six-figure income he had lost (obviously)...so we moved again, luckily selling our house before losing it, and with a short-sale, so we walked away with nothing.
We have now downsized 2 times...right before we left Wisconsin I found out I was pregnant (at age 36....10 years after the last one). Chuck was ecstatic, I was scared to death. We moved back to the area where we are familiar - where I went to college and he lived growing up.
We found a house that was big enough, but not nearly like what we have been used to living in, and crammed the possessions we could FIT into this little house and little yard-space, selling the rest. We both got jobs, all was great; Chuck got a job printing again and I was working at one of the local high schools as a behavior interventionist with high school students...I was laid off at 7 & 1/2 months pregnant.
I had Sam July 23, 2008. We were okay - Chuck was LOVING being a daddy to a baby. March 31, 2009, the day after Chuck's birthday, his company laid him off. I had not found work since having Sam and the state of MN denied me for unemployment.
It was my suggestion that he go and get his CDL...I love Chuck, but he has a hard time with management. He always worked 3rd shift so he wouldn't have micro-management...I thought he would really like it. So, in May, 2009 he went to truck driving school and got his CDL - he was pretty proud of himself. But then he started looking for jobs and he couldn't find anything local that would hire with less than 6 mos to a year experience.
Reality set in...he was going to have to go over the road. I thought I was going to die. I was already SO displaced as a SAHM - I really love to work. I'm not a good stay at home mom - I feel horrible about myself, I get depressed, I don't sleep, I'm crabby...you name it. Not to mention the fact that Sam has NEVER slept through the night and I go through most days as a zombie!
I love him, but he's not a good sleeper. I was feeling horrible about myself, but Chuck never made me feel that way, I made myself feel that way. When he left for training I thought it was going to be okay...3 days of orientation and 42 days on the road, without coming home at all. I cried for days. My poor kids probably thought I wasn't going to make it.
I went looking for salvation...I needed to know what to do with these feelings and how to manage the lifestyle. I came to the realization that this is not something most people understand, it's not unique, but at the same time it is. My friends JoAnn and Sue really helped me buck up; they both are veteran trucker's wives, but I really needed some way to channel and voice my thoughts without feeling like a broken record.
I started a blog http://whatsyour20mrhartkopf.blogspot.com/ to tell his family about where he is and what's going on in our lives (God forbid they might call and ask....). I have also been maintaining our tattoo business website www.hartink.com for the last 5 years - since business has slowed down the last 6 months (since he's gone on the road) I have a chance to catch up on pictures.
I'm also in Graduate School for a licensure program in Special Education - my bachelor's degree is in speech/language pathology. My older kids have been GREAT - especially my 13 year old daughter - a lifesaver...she allows me to be able to attend a book club once every 3 weeks, so I can get out of the house and helps me with things around the house. My middle son...he's good at keeping the sidewalk shoveled...that's all I can say (today). :)
I can tell my acceptance of this lifestyle has calmed down, but my life is almost unrecognizable from 2 years ago. I've lost my identity, I've lost the structure my family had - it feels unfamiliar and scary. But, I want my husband to have a job - he's miserable without it, and I'm working for our future as well.
One day at a time...If I stop and think about the fact that he's not here and far, far away...I cry...so I try not to do that too often. He drives all 48 with Swift, but he's mainly been driving East of the Mississippi - especially Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, those areas....he only gets back to Minnesota to come home. His ticket home is Chicagoland...that's what they say. :) He's told me that he doesn't intend to continue long haul for longer than absolutely necessary, he can't stand being home only 3 days a month.
The first 2 times he went out, when he came back, Sam didn't recognize him and cried at the sight of him...it broke my heart. He's good at driving- he's achieved platinum status within the company, and is successful, just not happy...:( This, too, shall pass...