Friday, June 18, 2010

GET to vs. HAVE to

A while back, my friend Marcia posted something on her blog that I thought was a really good point. I guess I've been kind of turning it over in my head since then, and I sat down to write my newspaper column the other night, and the following is what came out:

Do you ever wake up, sometimes way too early, and have trouble getting back to sleep because you’ve got a running list in your head of all the things you have to do?
I do. I think most of us deal with this mental noise a lot of the time. We’re busy, overworked people.

As a stay-at-home mom, my list generally includes things like the following: I have to get up in an hour and go to the gym. I have to fold and put away the clean laundry and wash a couple more loads. I have to empty the dishwasher and reload it, run it and empty it again. I have to figure out what’s for dinner. I have to make sure Logan’s ready for tee ball at five. And so on.

There are a lot of “have-tos” in there, and sometimes they can get me down. It seems like I get so overloaded with all those things to do, many which are never, ever done. (Laundry and dishes, anyone?)

I will admit that this to-do list gets me down sometimes. I get to feeling so overwhelmed that I get cranky. There is just too much to do, and I can’t seem to get it all done.

But I have discovered that it isn’t QUITE as bad if I get myself into the right mindset about things.

My daily tasks aren’t just “have-tos.” They’re “GET-tos.”

I don’t HAVE to drag myself out of bed at 5 a.m. to work out. No one is making me. I do it because I know in the end that it is good for me, and it’s most convenient to do it before the boys get up rather than waiting until the end of the day when I’m completely blasted and just want to go to bed.
Plus, there are an awful lot of people out there who are dealing with physical issues that prevent them from exercising like I do. Those people would LOVE to have the ability to get up at 5 a.m. and step on the stair climber machine for a half hour. I was one of those people, twice, when I was on bed rest for both my kids. I would have given anything to be able to get up and go to the gym rather than lying there trying to keep my blood pressure down.
When I look at it that way, it’s a little easier to get out of bed and get moving. Hey! I get to go to the gym today! Lucky me! I’m alive and well!

And what about dinner, laundry and dishes? Those annoying daily jobs that never end?
You know what I’m going to say, right?
I am so fortunate to have plenty of food, adequate clothing, and a terrific husband and children to cook for. I am lucky to have all those tiny little (and big) T-shirts to fold and put away. It’s awesome that I am able to cook good meals for my family and then clean up after them.
There are a lot of people out there who would give just about anything for a spouse like mine. Even if his gym laundry practically crawls away on it own.
There are a lot of people out there who can’t have kids of their own, or who have lost a child. They would give just about anything to be able to clean up one of the amazing messes my kids make at just about every meal. Mopping up smashed, flung food and wiping sticky faces and hands would to them be a small piece of heaven.
I am so, so lucky for these, the things I GET to do on a daily basis.

It’s so easy to let the day-to-day business of life get us down. Tasks mount into daunting lists, cluttered countertops mock us, little boys spill, tip over and dump out everything they come across.

But a new attitude can help us look at things in a different light.

These tasks aren’t the things that get in the way of life.

These tasks ARE life. And those of us who get to live it should be grateful for the opportunities we have.

So, what do you get to do today?