Being a parent and a truck driver is a difficult balancing act. Many women opt to put their trucking dreams on hold until their children are adults, but Delphine Foster found a way to have the best of both worlds by homeschooling her daughter from her truck.
When her daughter, Morgan, was in third grade, Foster became an owner-operator. She started out hauling containers in Tacoma, Washington, but it was hard to stay afloat. It was also hard for her to meet the demands of Morgan’s school schedule because she was a single parent and a trucker, and so she made the choice to pull Morgan out of school and take her onto the truck. Together, they went over the road.
It was no easy task, though, and Foster says she doesn’t think it would have been possible if she were a company driver or didn’t own and operate her own truck. Still, Foster made it work.
“Most parents’ choices would have been to get a regular job so they could conform to the kid’s school schedule but that never crossed my mind. I pulled her out, did the declaration of intent to homeschool, and we got our first load to Idaho or somewhere like that. It was scary, but we did it,” Foster said.
Foster found a homeschool were Morgan could go in one or two days a week and visit with a teacher. When Morgan got older and became interested in band, Foster would run her truck in a way that had her back home every other day or every 2-3 days so Morgan could participate in band or a physical education class “so she could just have some interaction with other kids.” They also joined homeschool associations so that Morgan could participate in field trips and playdates.
“I just had the full realm of my own flexibility and so that’s how I made it work,” Foster said. “That was the only way I could see it working for us, but it was hard, though. I need to reiterate that. It was hard.”
Juggling the demands of a truck and the needs of a young child at the same time was difficult. Foster drove an older truck at the time and so she only drove during daylight hours in case the truck broke down or she ran into other complications. She also worried about Morgan’s mental wellbeing and making sure her daughter didn’t feel lonely or isolated. To keep things exciting for Morgan “everything we did was almost like a field trip,” Foster said.
“Make sure you don’t make it all about you. Make sure you make it really fun and involve your kid. Make sure you have the trip planned out so they have some excitement at every point,” Foster said, suggesting destinations like rock quarries, zoos, aquariums, and nice dinners. “You have to make it about them instead of just throwing them in the sleeper with a book, and you taking off and just trying to go 800 miles a day. That can’t work.”
The mother-daughter duo moved to Texas when Morgan was 14 and their lives became much more sedentary than before as Foster began working in local freight. Morgan tried to go back to traditional school but she’d become too accustomed to the flexibility of trucking, Foster said.
“She did want to try school again. I put her in middle school. It didn’t last even a month, but she did try it,” Foster said. “She did an alternative school after that with way more flexible hours. It was like part-time in the morning or something like that, so she did get transitioned back into traditional school, regular brick and mortar school, but she still needed that flexibility.”
Foster now operates her own trucking business hauling local dry van freight, and her daughter is now an adult with a trucking company of her own. Riding along in her mother’s truck during her childhood led Morgan to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Morgan went to college to study music and became a music teacher, but she knew she could make more money in trucking and she wanted the flexibility she grew up with. Foster helped Morgan go to trucking school and gave her three trucks and three customers to jumpstart Morgan’s trucking career. Morgan launched her business in March.
“She always told me that I inspired her because I always worked so hard and I never give up no matter what. I think her watching me work as hard as I did, more so than her being in a truck, is what inspired her to get into trucking,” Foster said.