I am sure many of you have heard it before—the whole "I get to" versus "I have to" perspective. When I used to own a CrossFit gym, I relied on this mindset often. Because I feel like we tend to take our lives for granted—without even meaning to.
The most common complaint at the gym was always, "I have to workout… I have to do thrusters… I have to do burpees…"
But when we start any sentence with, "I have to…" it's pretty much a guaranteed to stink. And we lose out on what we get to gain in the situation. What we can learn. How we can grow and progress through it. How we can be a better version of ourselves.
Last week, I was humbly reminded of this perspective shift when we went to Disney World with our two girls. Our oldest is six, and our youngest is two. As every family who has braved Disney can relate, we had meltdowns and hissy fits galore. But we also had a ton of awesome moments, too!
There was one moment in particular, though.
We were waiting in line to meet Buzz Lightyear to get his autograph. My oldest had an autograph book and wanted to meet every character possible. So, we stood in line for about 30 minutes, which in a child's world, is like a billion minutes.
I am also pregnant with our third, about four months along. The combination of my pregnancy, my oldest's hyperactivity, and my youngest's whiny, needy stage—created a vortex of frustration for me.
I was tired, bloated, sweaty, and downright irritated.
I kept sighing heavily and rolling my eyes.
I HAVE TO stand in this stupid line and wait for Buzz Lightyear.
I HAVE TO pick up my youngest for the millionth time just to keep her quiet.
I HAVE TO be here in this hot weather, sweaty and miserable.
I was being a Negative Nancy. I fully admit it. And then, FINALLY, we were next in line. Oh, sweet relief!
But, wait. What was this?! Someone is cutting in front of us?! What the heck?!?!
An employee came up to me and said, "Excuse me, ma'am, but we have a family here with the Make a Wish Foundation. Would it be alright if their daughter went before you guys? You'll be right after them."
It took me a second to register what she was saying because I had to put my bad attitude aside and realize what was going on. I agreed, of course, and allowed the family to go in front of us.
And then, I watched the family.
The little girl was probably about 9 or 10 years old, and she danced around Buzz with her younger brother. The sheer excitement in her face was infectious to watch. Buzz spent a solid 10 minutes goofing off with them and making the girl laugh.
I watched her mother as she mentally recorded this moment in her heart. Tears streaming down her face. The grandparents were there, too, and they shared in the bittersweet moment.
I can only imagine as a mother myself that she was probably thinking something like, "I'll never get to do this with her ever again. I want to remember this forever. Her laugh. Her smile. This moment where she's not in any pain, and not thinking about the inevitable. She gets a whole day to be a kid and not a patient. I love her so much."
I suddenly realized that I was crying, too, because my oldest asked me what was wrong with my eyes.
I shook my finger at myself. While, yes—we are all human and we can't live life in fear of death at all times, but we can choose gratitude at any time.
I had forgotten in a classic parental moment of frustration that I GET TO bring my kids to Disney World, I GET TO wait in line for Buzz and then watch my daughter's eyes light up as she meets him, and I GET TO bring them back here again and again and again throughout the years.
I GET TO sleep soundly at night knowing my kids are healthy and safe.
I GET TO hold my youngest for the millionth time, and I know that there will be millions more ahead.
I GET TO remind and discipline my oldest time and time again and teach her how to be a good person as she gets older and older. I GET TO watch her grow old.
I GET TO enjoy a week in Disney World with my girls and then go home and continue life with them as normal. No hospital visits await us. No medications. No treatments. No Hospice. No conversations with my daughter about what Heaven might be like.
This simple change in sentence structure can rewire everything. Try it next time you're dragging your feet through the mud.
I GET TO go to work today. I GET TO sit in traffic and listen to a podcast. I GET TO work a double shift and get paid overtime. I GET TO go to the grocery store and buy anything I want for my family. I GET TO walk my dog. I GET TO wake up at 4:30 am to workout at 5 am. I GET TO make choices for myself.
Being a mother has taught me so much about gratitude and grace. While I try to be the best parent I can be for them, they are in turn teaching me how to be a better person each and every day of my life, and what a privilege that is.