It all began last Saturday over blueberry pancakes. As the girls were eating, I stated, in an Eeyore-sounding voice, “After breakfast we have to run a few errands. We have to buy toothpaste and we have to put gas in the car…” I paused for a bite of blueberry pancake. My daughter responded with enthusiasm and a slight shift in word choice. “Hooray!” she said, “We get to find some new flavors of toothpaste! And we get to see the person twirling the sign and dancing next to the gas station!”
It was subtle and yet profound. There’s a big difference between the words “have to” and “get to.” One implies drudgery and obligation; the other, excitement and opportunity.
There were all kinds of things I thought I had to do—shop for groceries, work out, do my job, pick up my girls from school. Now I am trying to see it through a different lens—all kinds of things I get to do. I get to go to the grocery store and pick out food that will nourish my family. I get to go to my barre exercise class and spend some time totally focused on my own self. I get to work with wonderful people and spend time on things that I care about. I get to pick up my girls from school and see their faces, excited to tell me about what happened during the day.
On that Saturday we got to find toothpaste that tasted like vanilla. We got to see someone give a sign twirling performance that entertained us the entire time the car filled up with gas.
It’s pretty nice when you don’t have to do things.