My Life, My Words: Mike Armstrong — Fatherhood from a distance

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Mike Armstrong, a Craig resident, works at Twentymile Coal Co. He has a wife, Dana, and a 14-month-old son, Boston, who are currently living in North Dakota while Dana finishes college. The distance between him and his family, he said, is sometimes challenging.

“Basically, my job is that I work on a bull gang at Twentymile. The production crew comes in the shift before us and they cut the coal and ship it out. Then we come in, and once they get far enough in, we have to move the section and advance the power and the belt, do all the pipes. That’s what we do. I’ve been doing that for about a year and three months.

“I met my wife, Dana, three years ago at my buddy’s birthday party, and we hit it off and dated for a couple years. Then she got pregnant with Boston, our son. He’s a year and two months old now. And then, I asked her to move in about a year ago with Boston, and we got married in April. She’s originally from North Dakota, and she was living in Minneapolis and then she moved down here when I met her.

“She’s living with her parents up there right now for the next nine months. She’s going to school at the University of Mary in Bismarck (N.D.). Her mom watches Boston, and she’s finishing her degree in English literature. She wants to be a high school English teacher. She wants to teach here or in Steamboat.

“It was a big decision for her to move up there, but she wanted to do it really bad and I wanted her to be able to. I’m pretty excited for her to get done with school so they can come home. It’s hard being away from them. I haven’t been doing much here, just trying to keep the house clean and walk the dogs, take them places. I’ve got an Alaskan husky and a Lab/border collie mix.

“Fatherhood is awesome, watching your own child grow up. Just before they left, he started walking and saying a few words. It’s only been a little over three weeks since they left, and it feels like forever. I get to see him on Skype, though. He gets on the Internet with Dana and he’s waving now, and he says, ‘Dad,’ so that’s pretty cool.

“I’ve been trying to stay busy the rest of the time. I’ll be playing on the men’s hockey team again this winter, but I got a call this summer to coach the high school team. I’m just going to help coach because I don’t have the time to be the head coach and help with that. I’m pretty excited about that because I’ve played hockey for a lot of years and I want to be able to help out. I’ve coached before, but never at the high school level. I coached Pee Wees and Bantams. I just like helping.

“I hope Boston wants to do sports when he gets older. I’m not going to push anything on him, but I played every sport growing up, so I hope he can pick out which one he likes.”

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