Mom’s sacrifices carry on tradition

| Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Spectator
Jeremiah M. Murphy

“Hey Dad, it’s Hunter. The ski patrol here at Terry thinks we should have Dylan’s arm X-rayed. It’s kind of swollen.”

“Kind of swollen?”

“Yeah, he had a pretty good wreck on his snowboard.”

This call from our oldest son regarding our youngest son came a few weeks ago.

“Kind of swollen” translated into broken radius and chipped ulna.

At the emergency room that night, Dylan’s fingers were pinched into a medieval device and the fracture in his radius was “reduced”. Dylan’s arm is healing in the shape it was before he fell off a straight box while attempting a front side board slide. (I have no idea what that means – Dylan dictated the terms to me. I’m trying to appeal to a younger demographic.)

Dylan’s break reminded me of a voicemail I received six years ago this month –

“Hi Dad, it’s Chloe. I broke my arm today. I love you! Bye!”

That was from our then six year old daughter on the first night of my first session as a lobbyist in Pierre. Chloe had broken her arm at the school playground that day.

My wife Kaia had agreed to do the work of two parents while I spent two months of Mondays to Fridays in Pierre as a contract lobbyist. Three kids aged five, six, and thirteen added up to a lot of work. With one of those three in a cast – the work multiplied.

But Kaia handled it. She handled it with love, compassion, humor, and patience.

In succeeding years Kaia’s handled a lot, on her own, while I’ve been gone.

In seven sessions she’s handled the ER visits, doctor visits, nursing, bathing, and shirt-buttoning required of four broken arms. Three of those arms were broken while the kids were snowboarding (I suspect snowboarding was invented primarily as an economic development tool for orthopedic doctors.).

She’s also handled colds, homework, indoor soccer, tantrums, basketball, flu, piano, gymnastics, fights, violin, sick cats, broken pipes, and broken arms (did I mention broken arms?).

Kaia is the third generation of women so good they will support Murphy’s in the business of lobbying – Murphy’s who decamp to Pierre for two months each year to ply our trade in the House and Senate lobbies.

There wouldn’t have been any Murphy’s registered to lobby if it weren’t for three other names – McCue, Foye, and Anderson.

Beginning in 1933 my Grandmother, Merle (McCue) Murphy, sacrificed so my Grandfather could go to Pierre and lobby.

Things were different then – the trip by car to Pierre was made on narrow 1933 roads in 1933 (or older) cars. When my Dad visited his Dad in Pierre, it took two trains to complete the trip from Sioux Falls. But, one parent parenting four kids was just as tough as it is today.

Starting in 1959 my Mom, Mary Jean (Foye) Murphy, sacrificed so my Dad could go to Pierre and lobby.

Some things had changed – 1930’s cars and roads and passenger trains had been replaced by airline travel. But, the legislature still met for two months each session and one parent caring for three kids was just as demanding as ever.

Since 2002 my wife, Kaia (Anderson) Murphy, has sacrificed so I could go to Pierre and lobby.

Technology has advanced bringing faxes, cel phones, and laptop PCs to Pierre. But eight weeks of being the single parent of three kids is every bit as challenging for Kaia as it was for my Mom and for my Grandmother.

Mom’s kids are grown up and our kids have grown older so it’s easier in those homes than it was seven years ago or forty seven years ago. But, easier doesn’t mean easy. Mom and Kaia are still making the family sacrifices necessary when one partner wants to pursue a career in lobbying half way across the state.

Now Dylan has a neon orange cast on his arm. He’ll have that for a few more weeks. That means doctor appointments added to his Mom’s already full schedule.

Lucky for our family, Kaia’s willing to make that sacrifice while I’m in Pierre.

And, despite her overfull schedule, she still has time to think of me.

Why, just the other night, she suggested I try snowboarding.

Jeremiah M. Murphy lives in Rapid City. Contact him at

(Originally published in the February 3rd, 2008 Rapid City Journal)