How is your family doing?

December 31, 2020
Weekly Column

When I am traveling across South Dakota I get dozens of questions a day, from the budget deficit to healthcare to national defense to agriculture policy. Over the last two years I’ve regularly used this space to address many of the issues most often asked about. 

There is a common question asked by South Dakotans I haven’t written about in a while, though: “How is your family doing?”

Some South Dakotans assume we moved to Washington, DC, after the election two years ago. We didn’t, and never really considered it. My wife has a successful business in Mitchell, but we also wanted our boys to grow up in South Dakota. There is a work ethic, kindness, and unassuming demeanor in our state that I didn’t want my sons to miss out on.

That means I am in South Dakota every weekend, which keeps me better connected to the people I’m serving. I see South Dakotans when I’m at the post office, the grocery store, and attending school events. We have one son in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school, so we have most bases covered!

Like most South Dakota families, we’ve been impacted by COVID-19, but we are holding up well, all things considered. We’ve lost close family friends to the pandemic. We’ve had travel plans disrupted, had to consider the possibility of COVID impacts to my wife’s business, and had to be thoughtful about when we see family members. We also have a sense of gratitude, though, that we’ve been able to have the kids in school. Study after study is showing that students are learning more when they are in the classroom and we are blessed to have Mitchell teachers and administrators working so hard to keep the kids safe and in the classroom.

COVID has meant a lot more time together as a family. Our family likes hiking and biking, and we’ve done more of that in 2020 than ever. Twelve-year-old Ben particularly likes the outdoors. He shot his first pheasant earlier this season, and he is regularly pushing me to take him to walk a field or to shoot trap. He has a 28-gauge and he’s become quite a shot. I’m still the only one in the family that will clean a bird, though.

Fifteen-year old Max is a hard worker and a talented musician. Marching band and show choir have demanded a lot of time from him, but he still makes time to work a good number of hours at the World’s Only Corn Palace as a tour guide and cashier. Both Max and Ben are good brothers to eight-year-old Owen. Owen is energetic and funny, and enjoys building things and exploring the neighborhood on foot, scooter, and bike. His ping pong skills are fast approaching mine, but that’s probably not much to brag about.

It isn’t easy to have a father and husband gone half the time, of course. Jacquelyn and our sons have to pick up a lot of my slack when I’m away. I’m grateful they are good people who love this country and who understand the value of what I’m trying to accomplish in Washington. They realize that it isn’t just our family that matters; it’s the thousands of families across South Dakota who want a fair, reasonable, and freedom-protecting federal government.  Thank you for the opportunity for our family to serve.