Thursday, January 17, 2013
In 2010 Stacey, the amazing woman without whom my life here would be decidedly less enjoyable (and less caffeinated) asked me if I wanted to help her put on a show called Listen To Your Mother. "Sure?" I said, having no idea what it was or what I could possibly have to contribute but knowing it would mean getting to hang out with her and may also get me out of some child care duties. I had no idea what I was in for. Even after Stacey explained it to me I remained a little unclear on the finer points.
It wasn't until the first auditioner walked in to our children's preschool classroom where we had set up a microwave cart as a podium on a cold February morning that I started to get it. The woman who stood before us and read her essay was the same person I had spent three years in preschool with. She was a friend; we had spent time together laughing and crying about life with young kids, we had shared coffees and wiped snot off each other's kids, zipped up coats and mittened hands together. And here she was, in tears, reading about her older sister who died in a tragic accident when my friend was a teenager.
How had I spent so much time with this woman and known nothing about this huge sadness, this life-altering event, that she carried with her? As the day continued I learned more. A friend's difficult path to become, the too-early death of a mother, the pain of making an adoption plan, and the hilarity that can happen in between soothing bleeding nipples and feeding premie babies.
I was staggered. I am not a rose-colored glasses gal. I know that shit happens. Horrible shit and hilarious shit and staggering shit. I didn't know it happened to so many people who I loved. Why weren't we talking about these things? How had I never thought to ask? Why had I assumed?
And then I got it. I got Listen To Your Mother.
Mothering, or fathering, or fostering or raising or nurturing, it requires so much from us. It requires that we make real and raw emotional connections to our charges. That we shepard them through the pain and the tears and the laughter all the while modeling how to deal with everything life throws at us. Emotionally draining is a huge understatement, and yet we have no outlet for all of the feelings playing this role churns up. There is no easy way to say "I was so scared I would never have a baby, never have the only thing I really wanted", or "I am grieving today for a baby who never developed passed a few weeks, who I never met, and who left me 7 years ago" or even just "I miss my dad".
At it's core, Listen To Your Mother is a place to do that. One of the most gratifying parts of last year was coming into the lobby after the show and hearing little snippets of conversation. Strangers and friends alike were discussing the real, nitty gritty crap of mothering. They were sharing their own experiences and they were connecting with one another and it felt like, in that room, nothing was off limits. No one was judging or interpreting, they were all just listening and supporting. And it was awesome.
Now that I get it I feel so lucky to be a part of it. Thank you Ann and Stacey. Thank you to everyone who has ever auditioned for a LTYM show anywhere, and thank you to everyone who has attended.
And with that said, 2013 is upon us! The call for auditions is out, along with letters to potential sponsors and all the excitment that goes along with it. Join us this year in Spokane or in one of the 23 other host cities.
Audition, listen, share.