The Holleys

At Drive My Way, we’re always highlighting truck drivers. We decided it’s time to highlight their other halves—the wives who hold it down at home while their truckers are on the road.

We spoke with two trucker wives who have more in common than they know: Justine Culhane-Holley of Jacksonville, N.C., and Michelle Campbell of Mocksville, N.C. Both have two kids. Both are in college. And both make it look easy (It’s not.).

The Campbell family

The Campbell family

Full days and challenges

“There are some really hard days,” says Campbell, who has an 11-year-old autistic son and a 4-year-old daughter with her husband, Eric.

While Eric is busy as an owner operator leased to TMC, “I’m in nursing school and I’m pretty much running around like a crazy person to make things easy for my husband,” Campbell says. “He’s doing everything he can for our family. I know that. But sometimes I think it might be harder for the mother at home.”

For Culhane-Holley, the day begins at 5:30 a.m., when she gets her daughter ready for kindergarten.

Campbell follows at 6 a.m. It has to be 6 a.m., because her son needs routine.

Soon after they take their kids to school, the ladies hit the books for their own classes. Campbell is in her last year of nursing school; Culhane-Holley is pursuing a conservation degree online.

“It’s real important for me to stay strong for him so he won’t worry about me,” Culhane-Holley says of her husband, Charles Holley Jr., a company driver for TMC. “I make sure he’s not the one I complain to. I don’t want to put extra stress on him.”

Both women are raising their children without a support system, which adds to their stress. The Campbells had Eric’s mother nearby for a while, but she has since passed away. The Holleys, who have a toddler and a 5-year-old, moved to North Carolina from West Virginia last winter.

As lonely as days can get, both women know if it’s hard for them, it’s just as hard for their husbands.

Home time

Charles Holley with his kids

Charles Holley with his kids

On weekends when Eric is home, the Campbells play with the kids, cook together and live in the moment.

“We have quality time, because that’s what matters,” Campbell says. “It’s not as often as we wish, but we enjoy what time we do have.”

The Holleys get as little time together as the Campbells do—an average of 24 to 36 hours a week. When Charles is home, he spends most of his time with his daughters, taking them to the beach every chance he gets.

“When he’s on the road so much, the time we do have together is all the more special,” Culhane-Holley says.

Making it work

Love is what brought these couples together, and it’s what keeps them together. While being apart is never easy, it’s always worthwhile.

Michelle and Eric Campbell

Michelle and Eric Campbell

“I would like women to know that it’s definitely not an easy thing, and they need to appreciate the time they do have with their husbands,” says Campbell. “It’s about quality over quantity.”

Culhane-Holley has become more independent since Charles began driving last February. “I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was,” she says. “When the kids get hurt or you have an issue with your house, you have to buck up and handle it. Once you can handle the problems yourself, you realize you can do it.”

Campbell, too, knows the life they’ve built in North Carolina is a good one, even if her family lives on the opposite coast in California. To handle stress, the women have turned to TMC and Facebook support groups.

“You’re actually not alone, because you can see that others are sharing your experience,” Culhane-Holley says. “We can express our frustrations to each other instead of to our husbands.”

Adds Campbell: “I love that there is a community out there for women, because it isn’t easy. At the same time, I wouldn’t ask my husband to do anything differently. We make things work, and he’s provided us with an amazing life. I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”

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