Let’s be honest. We love our kids to pieces, right? But parenting is exhausting – especially when we add in sports, extracurricular activities, family obligations, keeping the house in order, getting a semi-decent meal on the table, our own jobs – and oh yeah – having any semblance of a life. Sometimes it feels like we’re barely surviving rather than thriving.
Sound familiar? I get it. I’ve been there and done that. However, there’s a flip side of the coin that’s made a huge difference to me as a parent and to the way I approached my days.
In fact, it totally changed my perspective.
How? Through the thoughtful words of another parent. Years ago, an insightful minister in my church was getting ready for her son’s upcoming wedding. She shared a perspective that has stayed with me ever since. After offering some reflection on twenty years of being a mom and watching her little boy become a man – she challenged our congregation to shift our internal conversations from “I have to” to “I get to.”
Instead of “I HAVE to” go to soccer practice, (basketball, football, theatre, dance – fill in the blank) – think — I GET to support my child’s ambitions. I get to watch them grow stronger and more well-rounded. I get to be there for their ups and their downs. I get to spend uninterrupted time in the car with them as we carpool for the millionth time. I get to fix them a meal and hear about their day or even glance over to see them sleeping in the seat beside me as we drive home from a long day. I get to teach them to appreciate their talents by encouraging their dreams and nurturing their gifts. I get to be part of taking my child from infancy to adulthood and hopefully share a whole lot more after that.
Now there was an Aha! moment. It stops you in your tracks. Because they really ARE only little once. They really are under your roof for such a short time. There’s a whole lot of firsts and seconds and thirds – memories to be made as we’re raising our children and if we are blessed enough to GET TObe there for those – wow, that’s a gift. Right?
Will there be times when the last thing we feel like doing is sitting in the blazing sun watching a sporting event, or climbing aboard a bus with a 60+ teenagers (and that awesome combination scent of sweat, body odor, and WAY too much spray cologne)? Oh yeah. Will there be times you’re wiped out from work but you race to make the opening curtain anyway? Absolutely. Will you have a to-do list a mile long and find yourself doing laundry late one night or making the mad dash to the store at six in the morning for something you forgot and wondering if it is all worth it? Yep. Every bit of it and then some.
Here’s what I can share with you though. My oldest is in college and my youngest graduated from high school this week. They are no longer little boys. They are fun, faithful, amazing young men and yes, and I got to enjoy all those precious moments. I wouldn’t trade those tiring days for anything in the world.
Closing chapters on stages of parenting can be bittersweet. But yes – it’s worth it. So next time you’re exhausted and thinking I have to…. stop. Breathe. Take a look at your kid and change your words to “I get to.” Say it out loud, “I GET to take you to practice today!!” It’s powerful. It’s a game-changer. I promise. (By AMY MCCREADY)