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The 2 Words That Can Change Your Way of Thinking

What’s one way to change your way of thinking in this crazy parenting life?

Even before your eyes open, your mind is on “step on it” mode. Pack lunch: ham sandwiches, baby carrots, and raisins, times two. Drop kids off at school. Next stop: diapers from Target (don’t forget the gift for the baby shower). Get the minivan serviced. Make an appointment for the two-year-old’s well-child checkup (before she turns three). School pick-up, Taekwondo classes in the afternoon, followed by a quick stop at Walgreens. Thank God for the drive-through at the neighborhood Walgreens. Speaking of drive-throughs, that’s probably what’s for dinner tonight.

You’re tired before you even get out of bed. There’s a bajillion things you absolutely have to do today. You suppress a groan as you groggily turn off the alarm and steel yourself for the day ahead.

Change Your Way of Thinking

But here’s a thought: what if you and I replaced the “have to” with the words “get to?” Those two simple words – “get to” – have the power to transform our perspective on parenting.

You get to pack lunch for the kids.

You get to take them to school.

You get to take them to the doctor and to their after-school lessons.

You get to be their chef, their chauffeur, and their event planner.

Two years ago, my family and I moved from the U.S. to India where my husband and I were born and raised. For 12 years before that we lived in a suburb of Portland, Oregon. We had both completed graduate school in the U.S. Then came love, marriage, and two babies (born 17 months apart) in a baby carriage (more like a McLaren LX stroller). We loved our white-picket-fence life in suburbia. We were living the American Dream. Then, for a bunch of various non-dramatic reasons, we moved to India.

We lived a blessed life in America. We continue to live a life of more-than-enough in India. This wasn’t one of those Mother Theresa, let’s-make-this-world-a-better-place moves. We moved with a job that would provide enough for our daily needs and then some.

But every single day, as a person of privilege in India, I come face-to-face with the fact that I “get to” rather than I “have to.”

As I take my kids to school in an air-conditioned car, we pass by children sitting on mounds of sand outside construction sites where their parents work. Their naturally black hair is now bleached blond by the sun. Their moms carry piles of bricks and bags of cement through unfinished buildings. They don’t have the option of taking their kids to school. My “have to wake up when my iPhone alarm rings at 6:30 a.m.” complaints seem horrendously petty.

Moments like these are laced through my day.

Susan Narjala
Susan Narjala
Susan Narjala works for a non-profit in India that supports the education of underprivileged children. She is also a freelance writer and has been blogging for several years at Alliteration Alley. Her writing has appeared in Relevant magazine, Her View From Home, Parent Co, Huffington Post India and the MOPS blog among other sites. Connect with Susan on Facebook.

Chick-fil-A Summer Skills Camp Stirs Up Controversy With People Calling it “Child Labor”

A Chick-fil-A Summer Camp has sparked a lively debate about teaching children life skills through blue collar jobs. While some view it as an innovative educational opportunity, others see it as a controversial initiative that treads close to child labor.

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12-Year-Old Girl Dies by Suicide After Being Relentlessly Bullied and Harassed at School

After facing relentless bullying and harassment over the past school year, 12-year-old Flora Martinez ended her life on May 7. Now, her parents are demanding change from schools and administrators after the bullying persisted, even once she was gone.