Mother’s Day honors motherhood, women who provide maternal bonds in our life and the influence that these moms have on our society.
FreightWaves interviewed four mothers in the industry, including three drivers and one mother who helps run the operations, a job commonly held by women in the industry.
Anna Alderete is the mother of three daughters and a grandmother to three grandchildren. She was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and became a truck driver to provide herself with financial independence. She has been driving since 2012 and currently drives for TMT Industries.
Anna can be easily spotted on the road with her pink underglows, a customization provided to her by her company. TMT Industries was the featured truck and driver in the May issue of Truck Club.
LaKeesha Martin is the mother to one biological child, two stepchildren, five adopted foster children and grandmother to three grandchildren. She is a CDL driver with over 26 years of experience and the creator of TruckersLyfe: Helping Highway Heros, where she is commonly known as Queen Kee to her mentees.
She is also the author of the H.E.R. Method: You Are Precious Cargo, a guide to personal protection for truck drivers.
Tracy Gaudette is the mother to two children. After a painful divorce, Gaudette decided to start her new life as a truck driver, a career her mother and stepdad once did as a team. She has been driving for over five years and drives for U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc. (NYSE:USX).
Tracy has been awarded team driver of the month and team driver of the year at U.S. Xpress. She received the member of the month award in October from the Women in Trucking Association.
Melissa Gaglione has a blended family with her fiancé, to whom she is the mother figure of 5 children. She is an operations manager at her fiancé’s towing company and the president of Safety4her Inc., a high-visibility line of clothing for women working in the logistics industry.
Melissa started the company after finding that clothing that would comply with regulations was too long or too wide and heavy for most women and decided to design safety clothing that properly fit, including patent pending safety leggings.
She is also a member of the Women of Towing and Recovery Association and Women in Trucking Association.
These interviews were edited for clarity and length.
FREIGHTWAVES: What is it like to be a mother in the industry?
ALDERETE: “I had never spent more than 3 days away from my daughters so it was really hard for me when I first started driving a truck. Luckily, the Relief and Recovery Fleet was very flexible and I would be out for two weeks and home for one week [at a time]. That helped me ease into it.
MARTIN: “The worst thing about being away from my children was not being able to hug them whenever I wanted. Before there were such things like Zoom, I would look forward to phone calls at the end of my driving day.
“A truck driving mom has dilemmas that tug on her heart, similar to a deployed military mom. Mom guilt is just that, because for the most part, dads who work away from home are not stigmatized for their decision to be away from home. Adaptability and clear communication with my littles very early in their lives helped us to deal with the obstacles.”
GAUDETTE: “It can be difficult at times because when your children need you, you are hundreds of miles away and you have to try to fix things over the phone. On the plus side though, both of my children think that their mom is one of the coolest moms out there.”
GAGLIONE: “It is definitely a juggling act! I think as women we try to do it all and learning to slow down and smell the roses has helped. We have a blended family of 5 kids so I can say there is never a boring moment and I am not sure what silence is anymore. Still, I would not trade it for anything!”
FREIGHTWAVES: What could the industry change to help support mothers?
ALDERETE: “Currently, the industry is very supportive for mothers. Truckers are in such high demand that companies will work with you on finding that perfect schedule. You might have to get some road experience first but once you have around two years under your belt and a clean record, you have options.
“I think there is also less gender inequality. Rates are equal across the board.”
MARTIN: “It would be helpful if more truck stops included kid-friendly zones. Some truck stops have dog walking areas to accommodate pets and it would not be a big leap to add a swing set or jungle gym area for kiddos to stretch their legs.
“There are changing areas in the women’s restroom but if they added a family restroom that was separated from the public restroom it would be a good start. Many stores and airports have added these features to assist families. This area could also serve as a lactation station for breastfeeding mothers to have privacy. They could also designate a family shower stall much like the one they have for the handicapped. The extra space and time to get clean with your little ones can be challenging inside a regular shower stall.”
GAUDETTE: “I think that parents, not just mothers, need support and perhaps one way would be to be a little bit flexible with hometime. The company I work for (U.S. Xpress) has been awesome in this regard and I have no complaints.”
GAGLIONE: “I think being more open to understanding men and women are not the same and we require different adjustments in some areas. One of the major areas is safety clothing, as we are not shaped the same as men.
“Another area is emotional safety for women. Balancing being a mother, a manager, an owner, and other hats can be difficult for women to emotionally deal with.”
FREIGHTWAVES: Do your children ever go on the road with you or your significant other?
ALDERETE: “I’ve taken each one of my daughters out on the road with me. My youngest, Jelly, was my first passenger when she was 13 years old. We ran 11 states in 6 days. My second born, Andie, ran with me quite a few times. I believe she saw almost 30 states. My oldest ran locally with me to Las Vegas and San Diego a few times. I love having them roll out with me!”
MARTIN: “When they were little, between the ages of birth and five years old, they came along. Car seats, pack and plays and diaper bags all found their place in the bunk area.
“When they became school aged, I had help from family members and I adjusted my long-haul driving to a regional dedicated lane that allowed me to be home every Friday. My truck soon became summer camp as they packed up to ride with me during their breaks. This was the system I put in place while I was a single mom.”
GAUDETTE: “No. My oldest is an adult who just recently got engaged so her life right now is working, saving, and planning a wedding. My youngest just became old enough, by company policy, to ride in the truck but then the pandemic hit and she has been quarantined and doing remote schooling. She just recently started going back to school in person and is loving the social interaction with her friends. I won’t take her away from that.”
GAGLIONE: “We have not and honestly I try to concentrate on family when we do take our vacations, even though that really never happens in the transportation industry.”
FREIGHTWAVES: What is your perfect Mother’s Day gift?
ALDERETE: “I know it’s cheesy but of course it would be to have all three of my daughters under the same roof. A little challenging when my Marine is based in Okinawa and my sailor is based in Port Hueneme. We’ll try again next year.”
MARTIN: “To be able to hug, hold and kiss my children and grandchildren. I haven’t been able to visit them physically in about a year and a half. Due to the dangers of my exposure to COVID-19, our family decided it was safer to not have in person gatherings.”
GAUDETTE: “Anything from my kids that shows me they are glad I am their Mom. Every year, they do just that.”
GAGLIONE: “It’s the small simple things. I am always busy and running around so the perfect gift is my children letting me know that they are happy and they know they are loved.”
FREIGHTWAVES: How are you spending your Mother’s Day this year?
ALDERETE: “I’ll be spending it with two of my daughters. We will video chat with my Marine.”
MARTIN: “I have no plans set for this Mother’s Day. I usually just field calls from the kids and grandkids.
“My husband used to make a bigger deal out of the day than the children, to show his appreciation. I have been a widow now for 12 years, so that tradition has long become a pleasant memory.
“I already set aside every Sunday for self care, so I will probably do one of my favorite self care things and schedule a massage.”
GAUDETTE: “This year I will be working but I was just home on vacation at the end of April and we celebrated Mother’s Day while I was home.”
GAGLIONE: “We normally just hangout and maybe go for dinner. We’re a pretty active family and like to be outside boating, swimming, riding bikes, and many other things.”