“Have to” vs. “Get to”

The list of things I have to do is so long. I’m sure it is for every parent. More so for those of us who parent primarily alone and even more so for those of you who parent entirely alone.

Every single day I have to clothe, feed, bathe, entertain, teach, clean and protect three small kids. I also have to clean the house, run the errands, stock the shelves and kitchen, keep track of the money, cook the meals and do the laundry. It is enough to keep the most energetic person running and close to exhaustion.

I have been fortunate to meet some amazing fellow mama warriors, especially since becoming a parent myself. I try to learn from every one of them and steal from them the things I admire the most. One such mama talked about the idea of turning a “have to” into a “get to.” Her point was about learning to be grateful for everything in life.

I look at the never shrinking piles of laundry and think of it as a chore that I have to do. She wants me to look at the laundry and think of how fortunate I am to have three beautiful children who wear those clothes I get to wash. I think of a trip to the store as a battle I have to fight with the crazy crowds of fellow shoppers for the tiny pair of pink tights I have to get before Peyton’s dance class on Thursday. She thinks I should be grateful that I get to send my little peanut to a dance class at all because there are countless families without that luxury at all.

This is not a skill I have mastered. Since hearing her idea about changing one’s negativity into positivity I have definitely felt more grateful about many aspects of my life but it hasn’t sunk in entirely.

When Peyton woke up in the middle of the night and peed on the carpet in her room, I was less than grateful. When she did it again a few nights later, this time walking into the baby’s room to do it in there, I wasn’t feeling very grateful.

I recently got a lengthy list of school supplies necessary for Kendall to start Kindergarten. Soon after we learned we also have to pay a student fee for additional supplies. What?! I wasn’t feeling very grateful then either.

The truth is, I don’t feel grateful when Luca spits out his oatmeal, catches it in his hand and smears it all over himself and his highchair.

I’ve never been grateful that every time Kendall gets a bad cough she coughs so hard that she vomits… in her bed, her car seat and on my kitchen floor.

I have yet to feel grateful when my husband leaves his clothes on the floor when the hamper is easily accessible in our closet.

Marriage and parenting aren’t all rainbows and sunshine. It is a long, hard battle to work with another flawed human being to raise happy, healthy, productive and flawed human beings.

I am grateful every single day that I get to be their wife and mother. I am trying every single day to change my “have to” list into a “get to” list. Although I do think this has helped to improve my attitude towards the mundane and/or irritating aspects of my every day, I don’t think I’ll be a 100% follower of my lovely friend’s theory.


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