Sticks and Stones :: A Few Thoughts About the Power of Words

I arrived at the mall with a very important mission. I was searching for a black maxi skirt I needed to wear to an upcoming event. The problem was it was the middle of spring. Besides the fact that no one anywhere was still selling anything black, clothes shopping for myself has become one of my least favorite things to do. Like ever. I mean I’d rather scrub my boys’ bathroom than try to find something that looks even remotely flattering on my post-5-kids body. It’s torture.

Sorry, back to the story. I was pushing my youngest two kiddos in their stroller, my older three were all at school. I was planning which stores I would scour first in search of the mythical black maxi skirt {OK, I know black maxi skirts exist, but when I kept asking sales clerks in different shops and they all looked at me like I was crazy, I was really starting to wonder}.

I walked past a make-up kiosk. You know the kind I’m talking about :: the ones with the ultra-pushy salespeople who try to force themselves and their samples on you every time you walk by? If you don’t, check this out {or even if you do, it’s pretty funny}. Yeah, those guys. I was walking beside the kiosk and one of the men began to approach me–his free samples in hand–when I overheard his co-worker say, “Don’t waste your time on the ones pushing the strollers.”

For the rest of the day I heard that statement in my mind replaying over and over. “Don’t waste your time on the ones pushing the strollers.” Those words reminded me of another time in college. I had a huge, semester-long project that I was supposed to be working on. I was supposed to turn in little bits at a time so that by the end of the semester my project would be completely finished. I was doing the work, but I wasn’t turning it all in as fast as the other students in my class. One day about halfway through the semester my teacher returned some of my graded project to me with a post-it note stuck to the top that read, “You’re never going to make it.”

These sorts of comments just get to me. I know that the make-up salesman was just saying that “the ones pushing strollers” don’t want to stop and sample make-up. I know that my teacher was implying I was behind on my project.

But instead these comments really stuck with me. My professor’s post-it note comment that day pushed me to work harder. I managed to complete my project on time and score an “A” in her course. I can’t tell you how many times since then I have considered her statement when I begin a new project and I think, “Oh yes I will!” and push harder to reach those goals.

The kiosk salesman’s comment pushes me to remind the world that mothers—you and I—are NOT a waste of time. We are valuable contributors to society. We are creating masterpieces that can never be duplicated. We have sacrificed so much of ourselves without expecting {or getting, usually} anything in return. We, friends, are definitely not a waste of time.

As a writer, I spend a big chunk of every day thinking about words. As a mother, I spend an even bigger chunk of my days reminding my kids to use words and then to use kind words. In fact, as I was thinking about the emphasis of words in our home, I snapped a few pictures of the words we’ve tried to emphasize in our home.

Posters on the playroom walls ::

Sticks and Stones:: A Few Thoughts About the Power of Words | Houston Moms Blog

Signs I made that used to hang in the nursery ::

Sticks and Stones:: A Few Thoughts About the Power of Words | Houston Moms Blog

A sign hanging in my little girl’s room above her window ::

Sticks and Stones:: A Few Thoughts About the Power of Words | Houston Moms Blog

That saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a lie. We all know it is.

Words are powerful things. But we get to choose how to wield that power. I hope that the words you encounter today and every day will be the words you need to lift yourself higher. When you do receive some not-so-positive words in your life, I hope you’ll have the strength and courage to see them as stairs to bring you to greater heights as you rise above them and not as a ceiling to impede your growth.

We are going to make it and we are oh-so-worth it.

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2 Responses to Sticks and Stones :: A Few Thoughts About the Power of Words

  1. Avatar
    Catherine December 20, 2018 at 3:26 pm #

    A second piece of yours that I’ve read… and this one too GETS to me! It speaks so powerfully, in a good way. Well done! In this day and age we need this message more than ever. Someday I might share with you an article I wrote, called, “Comebacks to Bullies, Years Later.”

    I cannot believe that terrible professor…

    • Alissa M
      Alissa M December 20, 2018 at 5:50 pm #

      Thanks, Catherine! I’d love to read your article—that is a GREAT title! You can email me at alissa {at} alimcjoy.com.

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