Parenting, Social Media, Special Needs

The Power of a Word

Words. They matter.

I spent the better part of my post-high school academic career studying the written and spoken word and how those words matter.

I also have three children who struggled to find their voices. They have worked through intensive speech therapy to be able to find and use words.

The power of a word is not lost on me.

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I teach my kids to think before they speak. Is it kind? Is it truthful? Is it necessary? If they can’t answer all of those questions with a yes then maybe they should think about saying whatever it is before they do.

This is why it bothers me so much when people say, “They are only words.”

Words have power.

The way we talk to people isn’t a reflection of them as much as it is a reflection of ourselves. The way we talk to and about our children becomes their inner voice.

I’ve had this on my mind a lot for a few months now. It seems like in our current culture it has become a social norm to be a “keyboard warrior” online and to excuse really, really awful behavior because “they are only words.”

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I really got to thinking about this last night after what turned into a heated social media discussion, if we can call it that, with someone I respected. I generally try not to engage and avoid hot button issues- especially when I know the other parties aren’t particularly receptive to different points of view. I know it was 100% it was my fault for kicking the proverbial bees nest, but it was most certainly not a respectful discussion on either side. I am not too proud to admit it wasn’t a good look for either of us.

Follow me as I dig just a little deeper here…

It isn’t just the written word that matters. It isn’t just what we see each other write online that matters. It is true that social media has empowered a lot of us to say things, really unkind things that we wouldn’t necessarily say to someone’s face and we should think before we type, we also need to think again before we speak.

The Power of a Word

There have been moments in my life where words have been really influential on me: The words contained in the acceptance letter to my dream college. My husband asking me to marry him. My Grandmother’s marriage advice after telling her I was engaged. My Dad’s wedding toast to my husband and me. The first time my children told me they loved me. Any time someone told me “You can’t” or that I would fail.

I also can think of moments where words didn’t just have an impact on me, but also on my view of the world or someone in it.

Once, after the birth of a new baby, some relatives came to visit and meet him. One of them had been wanting a baby of her own and working their way through the options. She mentioned how she was slightly discouraged because another family at their church had received yet another foster placement while she was still longing for her first. Her husband responded with a remark about how that child had autism and that family was able to get another child because they were willing to “take whatever garbage is thrown at them.”

Now, it was a passing conversation and comment and the people involved probably don’t remember it, but I do. Six months later as my oldest son received an Autism diagnosis, it resurfaced in my mind. It took up space and it lives there. Every interaction this person has with my child, his words come to mind.

A few summers back a new family moved into our neighborhood. My girls were thrilled to have more kids their age to play with. It was great at first. They played frequently and I was all for it until I started to hear the way these children were speaking. They were being mean to my girls- cruel, really, and thinking they were funny.

Their words weren’t welcome and it was tough to navigate, but my girls learned they needed to speak up for themselves, but also to believe in themselves and they were worthy and capable of great things.

Around the time of my first son’s ASD diagnosis I reached out to the few mamas I knew at that point in time with children on the spectrum. I was lost and looking for guidance. Out of them, most were encouraging, offered support, and gave some advice. One, however, told me to get over it and not make it about myself. She had nothing to offer and I would figure it out just as she had.

That stung. It put up a wall in our friendship. I often think about her words when I am sharing my perspective on our life with the spectrum. I hope that should another mama ever come to me looking for a lifeline as I had been that I remember her counsel and offer better.

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These are only a few examples of the power of words, but they were impactful enough to bear mention. They were moments said in passing that have an echo that remains.

Lately, this world doesn’t seem built for kindness. To have a soft heart or to admit your hurt almost instantly is met with more insult or a suggestion to “toughen up.” I don’t agree with that, but I am also not saying that we should all walk around in bubble wrap with fragile egos and tiptoe around people. But maybe, speak less and think more before you do.

Is it kind? Is it truthful? Is it necessary? If our answer is no to any of these questions, then maybe we need to rethink our words.

The old childhood rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” comes to mind. Maybe words can’t break a bone or cause visible damage, but words do in fact matter. Words can break and words can damage.

Words have power.

It is up to you whether or not you choose to use your words and your voice for good.

Choose your words wisely.

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Vacation Had to Get Away

Last week, my little family and I escaped out state. We got out of Dodge. I am not even going to lie about how incredibly nice it was to stare at something other than the same four walls of my house.

We took a week long trip to Tybee Island, Georgia last summer and fell in love with it. Shortly after we got home we booked another trip for this summer. The past few months we debated back and forth whether or not to go. I spent weeks watching the COVID numbers and what the area of Georgia we were headed to looked like. We decided to go for it.

And you know what?

It was the best possible thing for our family. We spent a whole week being beach bums. We would wake up go to the beach, break for lunch, beach again, and break for dinner. The kids had the best time. Between building sandcastles and taking turns burying each other in the sand, they enjoyed they waves.

They did some body surfing and even talked me into trying it. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t a success. The first way knocked me under and my sunglasses were paid as tribute to the ocean. Thankfully Josh did not have the camera ready and zero footage exists of what Emma says was the most hilarious thing ever.

We all got amazing tans and ate way too much ice cream and slept in and napped and laughed so, so much together. And then we came back to Ohio and all lived happily ever after.

But you want to know something else?

When we went to Tybee last year Josh spent 90% of his beach time chasing Wyat. Wy couldn’t relax and enjoy it and in some ways, neither could Josh or I.

This year was way different. He willingly engaged with his siblings. He was able to sit in the sand for long periods of time and play and build. He didn’t run without abandon or caution into the surf.

It was a clear signal to me that even in the stress of the last few months with delays and cancellations in therapies for his autism, we are making progress! So much progress! The occupational therapy is working. The speech therapy is definitely working.

There was a moment where Wyat grabbed Emma’s and walked with her to the edge of the ocean. They stood there together staring out at the surf. It is a vision I will hold in my heart forever. It was a beautiful sight- my oldest and my youngest standing there together as if they were contemplating all that was before them.

That moment wasn’t possible a year ago or even six months ago. But that moment, it will live on for me. It will forever be a reminder to me about hard work and pushing through. It will be a reminder to never ever give up hope just because you aren’t there yet.

Yet will come soon enough.

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Welcome!

So glad you are here!

You’re probably wondering who I am?

Photo credit: Caitlin Breann Photography

Well, I am Marisa. I am a 30-something wife and mother just living her best life in a small suburban town.

Two years ago I left a soul sucking job in corporate America and now I spend my days moming it up. It was the absolute best decision of my life even if there are times I miss conversation with other adult-ish people and the extra money.

I have a wanderer’s soul. I would spend all my extra time and money exploring the world if I could.

Photo Credit: Kinkaid Photography

I am lucky to get to do life with the best guy I know. He’s my best friend with benefits and the yin to my yang. I would not want to parent or exist with anybody else. He gets me like no one else. Bonus, he has a really cute butt!

Photo Credit: Kinkaid Photograpy

My four kids are the absolute coolest kids you will ever meet. I might be biased, but so what? They are freaking adorable and awesome. My two boys are on the spectrum so you might hear me talk about that a lot. Autism plays a pretty big part as a dynamic in our family life. Their journey has taught me so many things.

A few of the best years of my life were spent in college in Nashville, TN. I met some of the most fascinating people in the world there and I made some of the best lifelong friends. I left a piece of my heart there when I left.

I love music. All music. Country is my favorite and Willie Nelson is king and The Chicks are the queens, but I can find something in any genre I would enjoy.

Writing is my passion and I am so excited to get back to it and share it with you.

I cannot live without good coffee and no, I don’t mean Starbucks. Yes, I will drink it, but Starbs is not the bees knees.

I think phrases like “the bees knees” are grossly underused.

I am a tough cookie, but once you hurt my feelings they stay hurt. I can hold a grudge and when it comes to the people I love, I can hold a grudge for them way after they are over it.

I am a Tennessee Volunteer football fan. Most days I wish I was on ole Rocky Top.

I am a Parrothead. I love Jimmy Buffet. One of my bucket list items and the greatest college spring break trip ever grew out of a visit to Margaritaville in New Orleans pre-Hurricane Katrina. I want to have a margarita in all the Margaritavilles. So far, I have visited 11.

I think most of the world’s problems could be solved with a good nap and a warm hug.

I firmly believe it costs nothing to be kind. If you can, you should help the next one in line.

I am a Disney Nerd. I love it. My kids love it. I’ve made my husband love it.

My race is not your race and vice versa. Run your own race.

Speaking of races, I got into running in the last year. Before that, running was solely reserved for when my life was in danger. And even then, well, even then it was dependent on how great the threat was.

As long as I can get to the end of the day and know I did my best, that is all that matters.

Welcome to my crazy life! Sit back and enjoy the ride.