By this time next week, I’ll be driving through Kansas on my way to Nebraska. It’s not a particularly fun ride — there is nowhere to stop in Kansas along the way, and I will have three children under the age of 10 who inevitably will need a restroom — but it’s important to me because I’ll get to spend a week with my oldest daughter, Kyla.
I love to drive, which is convenient given that I’m afraid to fly. Often on these long road trips, the kids will bury themselves in their video games or simply fall asleep, so I get a lot of time to myself to think. Being the managing editor of a community newspaper and a father to three small children at home means a busy life, and I tend to put myself and my needs on the back burner.
I think that’s a fairly common plight for parents. In an attempt to expand our children’s boundaries, they become busy themselves and as their chauffeurs, chaperones and cheerleaders, our children’s lives can easily become our lives. While our children are our worlds, it’s important to remember we’re people too with dreams, thoughts, aspirations and a need for self-care.
Driving gives me that time. Sure, the kids get loud in the backseat every now and again, but living in areas away from family means we’ve always had to travel to see them so they’re quite accustomed to hours on end in the car. I’ve noticed in recent years I stop more than I used to, and it’s not always for pee breaks. Sometimes, I just have to get out and stretch my legs or else my knees start to bother me.
Still, it’s hard to beat cruising along American highways to the sounds of my favorite music. I’ve already downloaded a fairly sizable YouTube Music playlist — there’s also a noticeable lack of cellular coverage through much of Kansas — to enjoy. I carry a mix of today’s top music and hits from yesteryears. I love when music from my childhood in the 1980s comes on and the kids start dancing along in their seats.
Going to see Kyla is always a homecoming of sorts for me because she lives near the town where I got my first job as a reporter. Lots of familiar faces welcome me back, and then we catch up on how things have been. Sidney had a rough go of it after Bass Pro bought Cabela’s, which was headquartered in Sidney and was the town’s largest employer. As the town lost many of those high-paying jobs, other businesses ended up closing up shop. The local paper, where I got my first reporting job, was down to printing once a week when I last visited in October 2019. During my time on staff between 2007 and 2011, it printed five days a week. The loss of advertising has hit it hard, and that’s unfortunate for the community.
What’s not unfortunate is how much the Covid-19 vaccines have helped to alleviate the pandemic. I haven’t seen my daughter in person since a few months before the pandemic got into full swing, and I’m full of boundless excitement to finally see her again. Keep my family in your thoughts for a safe trip, if you will, and I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.