Prioritizing ambition

I have been unusually aware of my emotions lately.

Which is vividly peculiar, considering I’m traditionally too busy eating raw meat and drinking straight whiskey for that.

It’s been a nice change of pace, though.

For instance, I had the day of poor hunting that didn’t bother me too much because Kalista was with me. I blogged about it. Speaking of hunting, probably the worst thing one can do if he or she wants to shoot a wild animal in its natural environment with familiar surroundings to boot is bring along a child who struggles to sit still or stay quiet. Yet one of my favorite aspects of heading out lately has become taking my nephew.

Work has been going well for me. I’ve always enjoyed new challenges; I’ve navigated most that have come my way and received adequate reward. I don’t even mind being there lately, which is unusual still because typically I – like most, I presume – would do anything for my boss to say, “You know, I don’t have a reason for it, but why don’t you just go ahead and go home.” These days I don’t want to leave work for the sake of getting out of there – I simply look forward to seeing my daughter.

It’s strange how things end up where they should be when one stops trying to put them there.

This is not a blueprint for how anyone should live their life. Lord knows I’ve got a long way to go. Plus I don’t care what other people do. Go on and worry yourselves to death, folks.

MY DARKEST OF TIMES have come when my priorities are out of order. In our society, we teach our children – directly or indirectly – cash rules everything. When they’re in school, we teach them to further their education or pick up a trade or join the military so they have a stable future. Once they take the step after school, whatever it may be, they are taught – directly or indirectly – the best way to spend that cash.

I was no exception. I haven’t done too bad doing these things as advised, either. I’m not a wellie.

But what a frazzled mess I used to be.

The trouble was that I focused on the wrong things. After college, I wanted to advance my career. I always looked ahead. Nothing was ever good enough. As soon as I made one advancement, I set my sights on another. As my salary increased, so did my financial ambitions and spending. So I never appreciated what I had and I never had enough money.

I always, however, had enough love … from my family, my friends, my daughter. I was her idol, yet that wasn’t worth enough to overcome my famished ambition.

YOU KNOW THOSE events that trigger self-evaluation? I had one. Come to find out, even at my previous worst, I’d always done a pretty good job keeping my child first and letting everything else meet the demands of my life as a single parent. Nothing against two-parent households, but … yeah. They’re nothing like doing it alone. I’ve found the best way to handle it is to make it known, loud and clear, that this is the way it’s going to be: my child is my first priority because if I’m not there for her, no one else is a text message away from picking up the slack.

I’d gotten away from that mentality. Routinely, I began to justify staying late at work. I allowed another’s influence to affect the way I parented. I lost touch with my family.

And I lost touch with myself.

But I notice a difference now that I’ve regained focus. I can be satisfied now. I can be happy. I am happy.

I’ve discovered getting ahead in one aspect of life can drag you down in another, which can give you the lead for one lap but make you lose the race by the end. Every child is a gift from God. Every spouse is sent for a reason. Mothers believe in their sons and fathers want their boys to become men of integrity, sincerity and other wholesome adjectives like those. Anyone can build a house of any size if he or she puts their mind to it, but a family – no matter the size – is what makes it a home.

I’ll only ever have one family and one dear, sweet Kalista.

May I remember to keep those I love first and my ambitions at bay.

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