The importance of being at choice

Nico Boon, laughing at Dolores Park in SF

Although Nico loves his new preschool (it is a dream come true) he hides behind my legs every time we arrive. He suddenly gets shy + clingy, grabs onto my thighs or tries to climb my body, desperate for me to stay. Saying goodbye to him usually involves distracting him with trains or an art project, anything that will hold his attention long enough for me to slip out.

Until recently.

They instituted a new game called, “Push mommy out the door.” And it is magic.

When I am ready to say goodbye to Nico and leave, the teachers say, Time to push mommy out the door! and Nico runs behind me and pushes my legs forward and I exaggeratedly stumble towards the door. Then he nudges me out saying, “Bye bye mommy!”


This week I realized the pure genius of this.

We all want to be at choice in our lives. We want to know we have some control, that we get to choose (even a little bit) how our environment will be + how our days will go.

In the case of Nico going to school, it’s kind of a non-negotiable. But feeling at choice — that he is choosing that it is time for me to go- leaves him feeling empowered.

Where in our lives do we feel like the victims of our circumstance? at work? at home? How would re-framing things we have to do, consciously choosing them, help us feel good about our responsibilities and tasks?

Sometimes a tweak in the language we use is enough. Instead of saying, “I have to…” we can say, “I get to…”

For example, instead of saying, I have to go to Ben’s school this week and volunteer for the Hanukkah celebration… (I said this last week and the dread in my voice was notable!) I could say, “This Thursday I get to volunteer in Ben’s class and do some fun activities to teach his classmates about Hannukah.”

Even if it feels a bit phony at first, you will notice how differently you feel. Stepping out of our victim roles (even in these small ways) reminds us that we are always at choice in our lives, and that empowering ourselves this way can ripple out into every area of our life.

Can you think of a place in your life where you could be more at choice?




  1. Judy
    Posted December 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    AGAIN! Wonderful ideas! The school and you, Andrea!

    Love, Aunt Judy

  2. Posted December 10, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    With Christmas coming up it is so hard to get overwhelmed by the amount of work we actually need to do to make it happen.

    So this year I get to create a memorable and relazing Christmas for my family.

  3. Posted December 10, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    You’re brilliant & awesome as usual…

    Yes, there is something in my life that needs reframing…my relationship with my job. You know, the thing that feeds me & my kids and allows us to live in our house & sends my kid to college.

    It’s not my life’s work but it sure does facilitate a lot of important stuff…time to improve that relationship!

  4. Posted December 10, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    I’ve made a conscious decision to reframe some things around my son’s activities recently as he has so many of them. I cart him around to two different sports on the weekend at the moment, take him to Scouts and volunteer on the Scout parent committee. This takes up a lot of my time but I’m being more positive about that now because I realised how negative and selfish sounding I was being. I’m loving seeing him grow from doing these activities.

    I love the push mummy out of the door idea.

  5. Posted December 11, 2012 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    This is beautiful. Perfect for those “need to’s” that loop around in my brain at times. Now I will attempt to reframe them as “get to’s” Thanks for sharing this Andrea.

  6. Joy
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 3:35 am | Permalink

    Yes! Brilliant and much needed right now. Thank for sharing this.

  7. Laura
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    Oh, thank you. Beautiful as always. My dear friend was just talking about re-framing- specifically as a way of self-empowerment. So, rather than saying that something is happening to her (the victim place, as you say), she finds it helpful to say that something is HELPING her. As in, ‘as I’m working through this challenging time, I’m really gaining resilience, which is helping me meet such and such a goal.’ I love it. I’m grateful for your reminder that I’m in control.

  8. Christine
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Dearest! How great! I have been thinking about this a while now and start to include it into my everyday life and general behaviour of speech – to phrase positively. ‘I choose to’ rather then ‘i must’ . Thoughts become words become deeds… Life gets so much easier once you take the (self-induced) pressure off. – Love this! Love your blog!

  9. Renee
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Thank you once AGAIN, Andrea. Your posts really do come at the right time. The past days/weeks have been rough (poorly little one, TANTRUMY, lots of work to do…siiiigh…on and on…)

    But the change of perspective you always offer, the support and understanding…just plain brilliant and much appreciated.

    Thank you!

  10. Heidi
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    I just returned from a wonderful volunteer/photo tour with ~48GB worth of photos that need to be sorted and edited. I’m not a fan of photo editing and have been dreading this part. Reframing to: “I get to go through all of my photos and relive some of the trip’s most beautiful moments.”

  11. Posted December 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    YES! i am conscientious about my wording to-a-fault sometimes it feels like. but i sooo appreciate this reminder!

  12. Posted December 12, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I like that you mentioned it can feel phony at times. Lately, I have been making a point to be happy and pretending to be happy if I don’t feel it, and pretty quickly that pretending turns to the real. I like the suggestion to turn my phrasing. I’m going to try it all day because this week everything feels like “I have to”.

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