Right off the bat let me set the record straight that the three little attitude changing words are not “I love you” . . . although they sure can make a mood sweeter.
No no, in fact they are words that shift our thinking away from “I have to.” Many times as a work-from-home or stay-at-home or even dreams-of-running-away-from-home-somedays Momma feels weariness from the 24/7 repetition.
When friends ask how I’m doing my answer is usually something to the effect that I’m living my own version of the movie “Groundhog Day.” I mean come on, how many times can you tell your children to keep their hands to themselves, not run in the house or not leave the sliding glass door open? Seriously y’all.
Yet I realized that my attitude needed some shifting when my sarcasm in mothering three children three years and younger became more sharp toned than witty. Was I enduring most of my at home days versus enjoying this precious time with my little people? If the laundry would continue t0 pile up and the diapers always run out, how could I be present in this season more as a willing participant than an unwilling hostage?
What could I change in me if the circumstances were going to stay the same?
Then it hit me . . . my attitude.
One of my all time favorite quotes is by the Greek Philosopher Epictetus who said “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
And so you aren’t fearful I’m going all brainiac on you, another of my all time favorite quotes is by the Greek Sorority Philosopher Elle Woods “Whoever said that orange is the new pink was seriously disturbed.”
Both genius each in their own way.
So if Epictetus had it right that all we can control in the situation is our response, then my grouchiness to a constantly un-tidy house, a constantly tired self and three constantly challenging children was not acceptable. In fact it was making everyone miserable – especially my husband.
Around 3 PM he’d start receiving my “when are you getting home” texts as I panicked how to survive between dinner time and bedtime. Affectionately known in our home as The Witching Hour. Then he came home to my complaining in the evening about all the events of the day that went off the rails. And it’s not like I was looking to have him solve any problems. Rather I wanted to be super sure he knew just how exasperated I was. I wanted him to be aware how hard I worked and how worn out I was with “nothing to show for it” – which side note looking back I realize is a tad dramatic. Plus he worked hard too providing for all of us and for me to stay home with the kiddos in the early years. All I saw was failure on my part of not looking like a Pinterest worthy parent.
But honestly, the children were alive, the house was standing and dinner was always served. Hello winning! Yet my crummy attitude didn’t let me see the beauty in the chaos.
Then I saw a Facebook post that left me breathless.
A girlfriend I wasn’t in constant contact with but kept tabs on since my before kids corporate career days had a stream of messages popping up all over her Facebook feed with one post after another expressing shock and grief about her husband’s untimely passing that very day. As I scrolled everything around me stopped and although it had been years since we spoke I dialed her number.
The last thing I expected was to hear her voice, but there she was. A widow of only 6 hours. Still in shock yet praising God for giving her a few years of passion and love with this amazing man who brought her to Christ. A few years some couples never have in a lifetime. I’ll never forget how she chocked out “I praise God that I got to be Clay’s wife.” Left with a little girl who hadn’t even celebrated her 1st birthday my courageous friend tearfully told me how grateful she was to have been his wife. Her only explanation for his passing was that Jesus must have needed him home sooner. And that’s how she still speaks over 18 months later. Her attitude has never wavered. Her joy in the time she had and the love she lost isn’t bitter. In fact through it she’s made many of us better.
So what are the three words to change an attitude that I learned from my amazing friend?
I get to.
Not I have to.
I get to.
Hear the change in tone it brings to your voice? The lesser of a burden on you overall if it’s a gift and not a demand. A chance is when you get to. A chore is when you have to.
I get to share dinner with my husband with our phones turned off to spend time together. I get to sit face to face and talk with no TV or other distractions to ensure we are each other’s best friends. I get to be romantic with my spouse to strengthen our marriage – remember him, the one you were all giddy about awhile back? I get to make parenting decisions or budgetary decisions or whatever hard talks you “get” to have that make you a dedicated strong team instead of just comfortable roommates.
And the list could go on and on in getting to strengthen the partnership with your spouse however “I get to” is so much more than that.
I get to chase these crazy kids around today and make memories – something the miscarriage mom would give anything to say.
I get to go to my work and do my job – something the out of work woman scrolling job opportunities at night and pandering from interview to interview would love to say.
I get to move my body at the gym to get a workout in – something someone with an autoimmune disease dreams of one day saying to rid herself of this utter exhaustion.
I get to throw a PB&J in for these kids’ lunches – something a mom with a child suffering from food allergies never gets to say as she pours over food labels and ingredient lists.
I get to roll over like a whale to prop up out of bed with this enormous preggo belly – something the lady sitting in the office for IVF dreams of experiencing.
I get to pump gas in the middle of a hot June – something a person riding city transit or depending upon others for a ride yearns to say.
I get to tidy up this big house again – something folks who have experienced homes wiped out from natural disasters or debt aren’t able to gripe about.
I get to disagree with my husband arguing my opinion with no fear of retaliation – something a battered wife lost the nerve to attempt to do a long time ago.
Saying “I get to” is an easy statement that we don’t really think about in the instances above or in other times through our day where it’s easier to complain than complement.
So here’s my challenge, what say you?
Will you get to tackle this opportunity and tweak your attitude from a “have to” mindset to a “get to” one?
Or do I get to write a follow up post trying to convince you why our attitudes affect the mood, temperament and positive (or negative) outlook of our home and little ones? No pressure momma. We get to choose how to live this life. The only “have to” on our plate should be having to live each day with purpose, excitement and intentionality. Let’s do this! Oops, let’s get to do this!