The Best Part of the Day
By Angela E. Thomas
"I can remember asking couples for parenting advice. They’d all say the same thing: You’ll figure it out as you go along,” Clarke Tucker said.
He and his wife, Toni, have been married for 12 years and have two children; son, Ellis, who is 9 and daughter, Mari Francis, who is 6.
“We’d planned to travel before having children, but our son came along just 18 months after we got married. We found out on my birthday, which was pretty awesome,” he said. “One thing I’ve figured out: There’s never going to be a time in which you’re ideally situated to have kids, when you’ve got the perfect amount of money saved or a time when everything is perfectly calm.”
To prepare for Ellis’ arrival, Tucker said, he read a lot of pregnancy books. In fact, he read more than Toni. “To this day, friends ask me questions. I don’t know why I read so many books—I think it was because I wanted to be as involved as possible. The funny thing is I now give couples the same advice I was given: You’ll figure it out as you go along.”
Achieving a work-life balance can be a challenge for this attorney. However, his stance is that family comes first.
“I wanted to be there for everything, starting with diaper changes. There’s nothing I don’t want to be a part of, and now that our children are older, they have a lot of activities, and I want to be there for everything: practices, games … I plan everything around them as much as I can, so I can be a part of their lives,” he said.
Tucker said it’s important to him that he also strikes a balance between having fun with his children and making certain he parents properly. “It’s important to keep perspective, to know that you’re raising people who will go out in the world. You want to raise them keeping in mind that they’ll one day be adults.”
He’s also enjoyed little things like cracking corny jokes, knowing that things like this will drive them crazy when they’re teens.
“I have great parents, and I want to emulate a lot of the things they did with me and for me. As a kid, you are not at all aware of the sacrifices your parents make. I now know how hard my parents worked and how much they love me. At 13, of course, I didn’t see it,” he said.
Tucker said he finds joy when his children have joy.
“In fact, there’s no greater joy for me, whether it’s watching my son at a sporting event or my daughter as she performs in an opera. Seeing them living joyfully—there’s nothing better.”
Tucker, as people may know, has run for office several times, and said these have been the times when setting an example has been especially important.
“As a political candidate, you’re faced with decisions on how to handle difficult situations. I want to be able to look my children in their eyes and know they’re proud of me. For me, it’s a great way to measure integrity,” he said.
“I love spending time with my kids, doing the ‘big important’ stuff as well as the little things. For me, it’s important that I’m present—it’s never about a photo op. Going home to be with them is the best part of my day.”
He counts among his role models his father, Rett. “He’s my No. 1 supporter. I know that I can count on him. My grandfather Roger Bost was a great role model as well.”
“I believe that knowing your parents love you unconditionally and that they’ll be there for you no matter what provides a good foundation,” Tucker said. “That’s what makes a good parent. I want my children to know how much I love them … everything else stems from that unconditional love.”