Speaking and Listening

listen to your mother

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I’m not a performer. I’m a shy introvert who never should have gone into journalism because I was so afraid to interview people (editing was much better for me).

But I’ve always understood the power of stories, and the importance of journalism when it provides an outlet for someone to tell their story and be heard in a way they wouldn’t otherwise be.

Blogs, of course, are a way of telling stories, too, but sometimes it’s nice for different people to share stories together and to get a reaction from their audience that’s more than just a like on Facebook.

It’s not just nice, it’s important.

Don’t Be Afraid

So with that in mind I have now for two years submitted stories to be part of the local production of Listen to Your Mother, a cross-country series of readings on motherhood. I was an audience member last year, but this year I was one of 16 cast members, and our performance was last night. listen to your mother

I was shockingly not nervous for most of the long afternoon leading up to the performance. I finally got jittery standing outside the stage door a few minutes before I went backstage. Once there I could hear the person reading and was more focused on them than on me.

And while I was reading I wasn’t really that nervous, either. LYTM crowds are awesome because they support the idea that the stories of motherhood need to be told and they want to be there to hear them.

Receiving Other People’s Stories

The sharing of stories is so important to us as people, but it may be extra important to moms. So much of what we hear and see about parenting — especially about being a mom — is judgmental and negative, dogmatic and polarizing, designed to put us into opposing camps, where our way is right and everyone else is a bad mom.

They even call it the mommy wars. (This would be the bad kind of journalism, the stuff I don’t miss.)

Instead of preparing for battle, we should be having lovefests.

And LTYM is the ultimate mommy lovefest.

Backstage shots, the exploded box one cast member made, a look at my script.

We all know that being a mom is hard. And beautiful. Usually in ways we don’t expect.

And while the details of the stories are unique to each family, there’s a nugget of truth and commonality in all of them that makes us able to relate to them. We may never know what it’s like to lose a child, or have a child with a life-threatening illness. We may never face cancer with a young family. We didn’t grow up in the circumstances some of the moms shared. But somehow we are able to see ourselves in those stories and to see that in the fundamental ways we’re all the same.

We love our kids more than anything, and would do anything for them. We try to do the best we can with the resources we’ve been given. We struggle sometimes and don’t know what to do or say, but we endure.

All of this makes it sound like all our stories were poignant and sad. Far from it. It was really a roller-coaster of a show. And even the sad ones were funny in places. Exactly like life.

Thank you so much to Stephanie and Lela for letting me be part of the show and to Lauren, Sarah, Brian, Rhonda, Courtney, Karen, Jacqueline, Margaret, Eileen, Rhonda, Jody and Sarabeth for sharing in it with me. Y’all are awesome and I’m glad to know you.

More pictures and the video of my reading to come…

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