My father always told me that to keep from getting overwhelmed you need to decide what your priorities are and leave the rest be. He is a very wise man whom I like to refer to as Bubba. He is also known as Bobby from others who love him. He is a phoenix of a man, one who you might attribute to being a rare, mystical creature who has successfully navigated the world of being surrounded by estrogen and estrogen alone.
He has my mother with whom they will celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary this December, two daughters who are unmarried (no son-in-laws to even the playing field), has graciously adopted all of our female friends and welcomes them into his home with open doors, refrigerator, kegerator, and a Bubba hug that melts the troubles of the day away, and to top it off – has always owned female dogs at the preference of my mother.
He started his adult life as a nearly starving college student, who luckily had natural intelligence that required little studying. My mother and him fell in love in graduate school where they were both studying to be Athletic Trainers. Their first date consisted of McDonalds. The story he loves to share is that they were both poor college students and he suggested they flip a coin to see who would pay for their first date. He told my mother, “Heads I win, tails you lose.” She is an extremely intelligent woman; however, my father’s humor usually gets the best of her and she agreed, hence why she chose McDonalds for the first date. He has made her laugh ever since.
Married at 24 and two daughters by 27, they decided to change careers to better provide for their young family. My mother became an educator, and my father went to work for a plastics factory. He has since worked his way up to provide a very respectable living for his family. Not only is he the smartest man I know, but also the hardest working.
Here is where his priorities and life motto comes into place. He has always said the way he prioritizes his life is Faith, Family, and Factory. Keeping those front and center of his day-to-day, he would wake up at ridiculously early hours to go into work, live his day putting the needs of others ahead of himself at his factory, and still barely ever miss one of our many sporting events, even volunteered to coach Young Miss Softball and YMCA basketball in our youth. He woke up at ungodly hours so that he could tend to his factory while still being there for his family.
Faith for my father is a little hard to discern. He tends to keep his relationship with God private, but he always says, “A man with a clear conscious can sleep anywhere.” Frustratingly for my mother he falls asleep in record time.
Although, I have heard these words of wisdom for nearly 20 years, it wasn’t until I had my own daughter that it all started making more sense, and he continued to grill this into me. This is how I apply the motto above to my own life:
- Faith: Without taking the time to nurture my relationship with God, life becomes overwhelmingly unbearable. I prioritize studying God’s word, and continually work to improve my prayer life. One thing I’ve come to realize is that when I tend to my faith first and foremost, I am a better mother, a better friend, and a more peaceful person. What used to rattle me, doesn’t have nearly the same effect. “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:6 (NIV)
- Family: Family whether it is the one we are born into, or the ones we choose, my priority is to be present and grateful even in times of discord. As a working solo mama, my time with my daughter sometimes feels too limited, but it makes me want to be that much more present and grateful during the times we do share. It’s quality over quantity, as Bubba says so accurately. This also ties into the next priority of my factory.
- Factory: Meaning how I make a living for my family. The above two is what brings it altogether. My boss is my Lord, my work is for him, and I work to secure safety and necessities for my family. Even when my day job is overwhelming and stress filled with the daily challenges corporate America presents, I remember why I come to work and try to do my best daily. Not for pride, not for simply profit, but to honor my Lord and take care of my daughter.
I will not sit here and type that I have mastered all of the above, but like all things in this imperfect world as imperfect humans, all we can do is try our best and when we fall, get up, brush off, and show up.
Dedicated to my Bubba, the man who would kill giants for all the girls in his life. Love you dad!