More than Words

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Sometimes I ponder the power of words. These little black and white jumbled collections of letters strung together hold the amazing ability to change things exponentially. It’s remarkable when you think about it. Words damage, words devastate, words destroy. Switch them around and words motivate, words encourage, words inspire! What will you do with the power of your words??

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The other day my father had surgery on his shoulder. Words certainly showed their power all day, starting with Pavilion. I was supposed to go to the hospital pavilion, but when I looked at my text message I saw “hospital, 9am” and I completely missed the word “pavilion” so I was in the wrong place. It didn’t help when the nurse’s station told me I just had my room number wrong. “You’re looking for 215”; she said, which landed me in a closet of the wrong building. Eventually I made it to the right place, just in time to kiss him before he went under the knife.

Prayers- now those are powerful words! They were uttered over and over until we heard more powerful words: “surgery was a complete success!”

As I was leaving the pavilion, I pulled into the driveway to turn out, trying to decide which way to go. “Should I turn right and get gas now, or turn left and get gas in the next town?” I was debating and in my inability to decide quickly I hogged the driveway a little bit- not completely, but apparently enough to anger the man turning in. He looked at me, eyes bulging out, screaming and shouting “what are you doing?! What are you thinking?!! Really, come on!!”

His complete over-reaction (considering he still had plenty of room and there was no traffic) really angered me, but instead of ranting back, I decided to use the most powerful words I know. “I’m sorry.” I waved, I smiled, I got gas before heading out of town.

I decided not to sweat the small stuff. He wasn’t a bad guy, he just chose the wrong words. I’m kind of used to the stares and mutterings of strangers. When you’re the mom of 7 kids, and they’re all ADD/ADHD/ODD, you get a lot of those- especially in public. People seem to think that kids automatically become little angels the moment they step into a public place. How I wish that were true! I haven’t found that magic wand just yet, so I spend a great deal of time saying “that is not good behavior” or “what should you be doing right now?” and trying to balance that with “wow, you are are really behaving!” Sometimes a five minute trip to the store takes 35 minutes with my crew in tow.

Yesterday Trenton had a field-trip. A field-trip means bring your own lunch, and in our house if one kid is getting a special lunch, they all want a special lunch. I don’t believe in fairness. I teach my kids that life isn’t fair. My slogan is: “the Fair comes once a year, and they bring the Ferris Wheel.” The one exception is Lunchables. If I buy a Lunchable for one, it’s Lunchables for all! So, with only 12 minutes to accomplish our goal, we headed into Walmart. We stopped for snack-size bags of chips, grabbed Lunchables, added flavored waters, threw in a box of Crunch N Munch, a bag of cuties, and some oatmeal creme pies. As we checked out, the kids lined up- personal selections in hand. I rang up each kid, tossed their items in a bag, and Viola! Lunch is packed! The lady next to me looked over and said “I remember those days! You are very efficient!”

Wow! The power of words. I received a compliment- from a stranger- in a public place! Sometimes the change in routine brings out the worst in my crew, but we got everything we needed, self-checked our purchase, and were back in the car in nine minutes flat. I was feeling pretty darned efficient!

Often it seems, as moms, we judge each other. We’re almost catty. We compete. We need our children to be the cutest, the smartest, the most athletic. We forget to root for each other. We stop cheering each other on. It’s like we think if Johnny gets a scholarship there won’t be one left for Tim. It’s doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We can find happiness in the accomplishments of others. This year I’m watching a kid graduate. I babysat him when he was little, and he could be challenging, but the word that comes to my mind now is proud! I can’t believe this kid has overcome the trials of ADHD and the obstacles of being part of the have-nots in a small town. He’s gone on to win an athletic scholarship, and more importantly to set an example for the many little faces looking up to him. He truly stands out among his class. My son will graduate next year, without an athletic scholarship, without as much fanfare, but I will celebrate him just as much. His achievements are plentiful. There is no jealously, no competition, just a great love for some very different kids, and an appreciation for their individuality. Their accomplishments don’t have to be tangibly equaled to be appreciated. Sometimes our biggest achievements come without a trophy, like making it through Walmart without a meltdown, without having to hold a hand, without missing the field-trip bus!

Thank you fellow mom for using your words to remind me to love the life I live. I started my day feeling inspired, and the power of your words followed me the rest of the week…

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