Putting Yourself Out There


One of the cool things about being a mama writer where I live is that there is a great community of writer mamas around here. Whether bloggers, magazine publishers, website owners or book authors, lots of ladies here are sharing their experience with each other and the world.

It was because of this community and the efforts of the awesome Lela Davidson that our little corner of the world became one of just 10 places in the country to host a Listen to Your Mother event. The program started with just one show in 2012 and has grown into a nationwide event that showcases motherhood through the reading of essays about motherhood, parenting and the experience of having or being a parent. It’s sponsored nationally by BlogHer and 10 percent of the proceeds from each event go to a local cause.

Write Your Heart Out

I probably would have wanted to be involved in this event anyway, but my pal Stephanie was helping Lela put it on, so I knew I had to try to get in the show. The ladies accepted essays then held auditions for the people they thought they might want in the show.

I had a hard time coming up with what to write about. I knew I didn’t want to go too sappy but I needed to be making some kind of point about parenting. First I thought the essay that became my blog post “Warning: Do Not Leave Child Unattended” would be my entry, but I had no idea how to conclude it in a heart-warming way (it’s still pretty darn funny, though).

One night, sitting on The Bit’s floor at 3 in the morning, trying to get her to go back to sleep, I decided I needed to write about sleep and why it is that no one with a bad sleeper is talking about sleep.

It ended up with the thought that I hoped all that attention was somehow letting her know that she was loved and that she would know that even when we weren’t around to tell her.

I thought it was pretty sweet, and the ladies invited me to audition.

Trying Out

I have never been much of a public speaker, and I’m generally pretty shy. There were times when I was younger when I’d write out scripts for telephone conversations, so bad was I at talking to other people (for some reason, I went into journalism anyway).

I’ve gotten better over the years. Journalism helped, though I’d still rather do an interview by e-mail if given the chance. Being a mom helped, too, because you have to speak up where your kids are involved, and because I really made an effort to cultivate some mom friends (though I’ll bet most of them approached me first).

I still hate mingling and making conversation, as I was reminded when I made myself get out of my office last week. But I don’t get as nervous about stuff like that as I used to.

I didn’t really feel nervous about reading. I think that’s mostly because I was ambivalent about being included. I thought I was telling an important story but I wasn’t sure I wanted to perform in front of a bunch of strangers (or worse, people I knew), especially the sort who thought about parenting enough to want to attend such an event.

But reading in front of a couple of people should be no problem, I reasoned. Still, I started to feel a little apprehensive as soon as I walked in, and I realized while I was reading that my hands were shaking. Pretty much as soon as I noticed I got it under control and was feeling better by the end, but I knew I hadn’t given it my best possible effort.

The Reject Pile

So I wasn’t really surprised the next night, after I put the Bit to bed, when I got the e-mail that said I wasn’t chosen to be in the show. I felt sad for a few seconds, but I also felt like it was turning out the way it was supposed to. Maybe there was another way I could be involved, or maybe I was just supposed to listen.

We adults don’t usually have our lives set up so we have to deal with a lot of rejection. As a freelance writer I probably deal with it a lot more than most people (though our kind of rejection usually has more to do with being ignored than being told no outright).

But I think it’s really good for us to put ourselves out there from time to time, try something we wouldn’t normally do — even something we’re not totally sure we want to do — and face the possibility that we might fail.

Failure makes us stronger and teaches us about ourselves, even as adults. It’s a shame that so many parents try to protect their kids from failure and rejection to the point that they only really face it when they move away from home and then they can’t handle it.

Equipping our kids for life means showing them how to deal when things don’t go their way. And one way to do that is to show them how we deal with people saying no to us.

My daughter’s too young to understand that right now, but you can bet I’ll be providing her with plenty of opportunities to understand rejection in the future!

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