Not Have To, But Get To

There’s a familiar pattern that happens when I meet a stranger and they start inquiring after my job.  It goes something like this:

Me: I stay at home.  My husband and I have five children.
Person:  Oh wow, five!  You have your hands full! (if I’m lucky, here’s where they might say “you don’t look old enough to have five kids!”)  How many of them are in school?
Me:  Well, technically we have a third grader, a second grader, and one in kindergarten, but I homeschool, so…
Person:  Oh, wow.  I could never do that.  (or some facsimile thereof)

The comment “I could never do that,” means different things to the vast number of people who say it.  Some people mean that financially they couldn’t afford to stay home; some mean that their spouse would never agree to it; some mean that parenting one or more of their kids is a struggle and they’re glad to usher them out the door every morning; some mean they just couldn’t sacrifice all the “me” things — the career, the time.

If I’m honest, I can latch on to that mindset pretty easily.  I start thinking in terms of “I have to do this.”  I have to get up at the crack of dawn if I’m going to get a workout in before the craziness starts.  I have to feed a large number of people three times a day and clean up the kitchen three times a day.  I have to organize, declutter, nag, do laundry, clean.

The grass is always greener in somebody else’s life, no matter what part of the world you’re living or working in.  Working moms want to be home.  Stay-at-home moms want to be working.  Somebody else’s job, house, spouse, life, looks better.

It’s better to think in terms of the “get to’s.”  Take this week for example.

  • I get to encourage my oldest in his latest obsession:  Shakespeare.  I get to bond with him over his favorite, Macbeth, and show a snippet of “Shakepeare in Love” so the boys can see what the theater looked like back in Shakespeare’s day.
  • I get to laugh at my youngest as she struggles to string sentences together with an extremely limited vocabulary.  I get to be the one who understands her the best.
  • I get to experiment with new recipes to try to fill up these boys.  Yesterday I made fried eggs on TOP of english muffins with a little sprinkle of cheese, and something about putting the egg on top of the muffin made it a whole new experience for the boys.  Funny.
  • I get to drink coffee in my quiet house every morning without feeling the need to primp and get out the door to a job outside the home.
  • I get to see the light cross my son’s face as he finally “gets” something he’s working on in school.  That’s the entire reason why I chose teaching as a profession before I had kids.
  • I get to let my kids sleep until a reasonable hour instead of pushing them to get up, get ready, go, the bus is coming…

 What “get-to’s” are you celebrating this week in your world?

7 thoughts on “Not Have To, But Get To

  1. I've heard all those comments before and I celebrate the "get to's" with you, Kelly…I get to drink a perfect cup of coffee made for me by my 15 year old son.I get to talk and pray with my teenage boys every morning.I get to write a high school transcript and marvel at all we've accomplished.I get to see my son really learn how to study and hear him say how much he enjoys writing essays for literature.I get to take my boys skiing in the middle of the week!I get to spend time with others who need assistance, knowing my teenage boys will take care of things at home.I get to watch my teenage boys play with toddlers and babies who come to our house and see what tenderhearted, fun boys they are for little ones to look up to.I get to encourage them to follow their dreams and see them enjoy the freedom during the week to do out-of-the-ordinary activities like working on a film set instead of sitting in a classroom.


  2. This hits a really tender spot for me this morning. I'm having SUCH a hard time with contentment right now so I think the Lord is using your post to change the cycle in my heart. Deep breath.I get to go to work 2 days a week at a great school and help our family.I get to watch children spanning 4-12 years old experience and discover different aspects of music for the first time…and the wonder and joy that follows.I get to support my husband being a teacher, knowing his impact on his kids is eternal.I get to learn and cultivate the skills of being frugal and saving money for our family.I get to enjoy a peaceful season of just having 2 boys, and spending lots of quality time with both of them.I get the opportunities to stay inside and start new bible studies, read books, try new recipes, change our decor, etc while the weather is yucky.I get to experience God being all I need while I wait on Him.I get to experience all of our needs being met, and learning to be content with what He's given us.Ah…that was good. Thanks, girl.


  3. Good one!I get to make sure my girls go out the door each day to teachers they love with clean clothes, a well-packed lunch, and neat hair (with a minimum of yelling).I get to balance the needs of the house against the money of the house (which is always sufficient; it just takes some wrangling).I get to spend most of my days with a very interesting four year old.I get to walk through my neighborhood, past the stream and the pond, to the bus stop each day, and spend more time with my girls.I get to share a car with my husband and thus see more of him.I get to be a part of the good work of God going on in downtown Worcester with communities in two languages and many traditions.I get to live in an amazing place with trees and bird and water…and access public transportation.One could just go on and on!


  4. Yes. Amen. Even though I am far from home and family…I get to watch my little girl learn 2 languages. I get to see my husband at random points during the day and even hang out with him during some of those times.I get to experience the uniqueness of a culture totally different from mine and marvel in the creativity of God.I get to live high in the Andes mountains and marvel at the majesty of God!I get to visit other women who stay at home and have time to bring them a little homemade snack.I get to learn to appreciate balancing my own personal time, keeping a clean house, taking care of a needy toddler and maintaining a good attitude through all of it! God still has much to teach me in this…


  5. Fabulous, Kelly. I need this reminder more than I should. I am ashamed to say.I get to wake up to my children, walk beside my children during the day, and put them to bed at night. A unique opportunity to follow as closely as possible the command God gave us in Deut. 6:6-9.I get to share my passion for cooking with my family three times a day and sometimes more.I get to watch my children raise their hands in praise to the Lord as we sing praises to Him every school morning.I get to hear them ask for "hymn study, poem study, word games, and stories" for fun when traveling in the car. I get to bless them by being the one the whole family always comes to when they cannot find something. ;)I get to watch my son as he struggles so hard to make right choices, weep with him when Satan wins, and rejoice with him when the right road becomes the road most traveled in whatever particular struggle he is wrestling with at the time. I get to dance around the house, be loud, and act crazy after all my kids don't care. I get to indulge my passion for ruffles and ribbons with the help of my two little girls.I get to never run out of photo opportunities.I get to share my love of mysteries and puzzles with my son, my love of music with my Anna, and my love of horses with my Alexa. And I get to look forward to the things I will share with my Adam.I get to be blessed by some of the best friends one could imagine. And I get to have the time to try and serve them in return.And I get to be helpmate to the man who for me is the best man on earth.And most of all by resting in Him I get to laugh more than I cry.


  6. This is a wonderful reminder of how blessed we are. I get to enjoy the three very different ages and stages my children are in and celebrate the joys and challenges each brings.I get to take pride in the fact that my family has clean clothes, (usually) healthy meals each day, and a (mostly) organized house to come home to.I get to comfort my child and stay home with him while he has chicken pox this weekI get to help my neighbor by watching her children so she can provide an income for their family.I get to help breastfeeding mothers in our community and watch their babies grow into wonderful toddlers and children while getting my "baby fix" each month.I get to keep in touch with old friends and new every day which reminds me that we are all in this life together.


  7. i love this post!thanks for the insightful perspective and the sweet window into your life:)!i hope i GET TO spend some sweet time with your family when i'm in charlotte for a wedding that i GET TO be a part of.june 17th-ish.let me know if you'll be….


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