To try to capture the essence of the Listen To Your Mother show is difficult.
What started as one mom’s effort to “give motherhood a microphone” in one small, midwest city a few years ago, has mushroomed to 32 cities across the US. It won’t end there.
Every mom has a story to tell. Whether they want to tell it or not? Whether they have the courage to tell it or not? Well, I guess no one really knows unless they show up to audition.
I’m so grateful I showed up to audition for the Boston show, held April 24th, at historic The Old South Church in Boston’s Copley Square.
Cool, huh? Photo credit: LTYM and Jess Severson.
I did have a story to share. I feel grateful to have gotten the chance to share a story from my tenure as a mom at Listen To Your Mother, live and in person. I write. I’m a writer. Countless
dozens of people read what I write. But my friends, people who know me off the screen, will probably tell you I’m also a story teller. I like to talk. I like to joke around. Most often at my own expense. But my live audience is usually limited to the few poor souls I corner over a beer or six at a party or in the preschool pick up line. (I didn’t say I was any good at it!)
See, growing up the youngest of four by a lot, I had to fight to be heard sometimes— and pity the fool who missed the chance for the witty comeback at dinner. And so I just can’t help but go for the laugh. It was survival of the fittest–it’s instinctive.
I’ve come to realize though, despite who I am or what I will ever “be”, what I trained for my whole life without even knowing it, is my gig as a mom. And like many moms, I’ve doubted the job I’m doing. I’m not perfect. My kids aren’t perfect. I readily admit it. But to me, one of the biggest requirements of this job, lest you wind up in fetal position in the corner, is a sense of humor. So, would it be refreshing to hear that in the midst of everyone being awesome all the time and everyone’s kids being awesome all the time, that maybe a mom and a kid who sometimes say the wrong thing and do the wrong thing will be just fine….because in the end, they are loyal and loving, despite all their flaws? And maybe, just maybe, people would forgive them their transgressions because they make them laugh? I’m hoping so. Could it be that simple? I’m hoping so. It’s all I got, people! (*Here is the jist of what I read at Listen To Your Mother from my blog.)
I cannot articulate how gorgeous The Old South Church is.
PHOTO CREDIT: www.kimworld.com
So I’m not going to lie. When I stood up at the podium in the gorgeous, historic Old South Church in Boston in front of an audience that was decidedly bigger and more anonymous than the preschool pick up line or any party I’ve been to lately, it was a pretty damn good feeling to hear people laughing at my piece. Because with the exception of my hubs, my mom, and a few good friends in the audience, I knew they couldn’t have ALL been laughing just to be polite. (Right??? Shut up people who are related to me, shut up.) My voice felt strong and I wasn’t nervous….I had 14 new friends aka castmates sitting behind me and I could feel them willing me to nail my piece, as I did when it was their turn.
This is one of two photos hubs took. We are not picture people. Did we think to bring our real camera? No. I thought he was asleep at one point during the show and sure enough, he was furiously deleting stuff to make room for the awesome two photos! So here is photographic proof I was there in the green dress! Btw, does anyone else think it looks like I have slippers on my feet?
And…it’s sidewards. Beautiful.
Blogging and writing is at times, a lonely proposition. My audience is largely silent and unknown. Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a good friend. And sometimes I just feel like I’m talking to myself. At times I’ve gotten feedback I haven’t loved–someone called me irreverent! (Which, not to split hairs, could be construed as a compliment. Pfft.) Someone told me to chill the hell out when I admitted I had corn cob rage. All I said was I wanted to beat people over the head with corn when they sit and peel back every ear of frickin’ corn–live on the edge a little! I’m not an axe murderer–jeez! Anyway, I’m good with the crickets or criticism or whatever comes or doesn’t come from my blog—if I weren’t, I wouldn’t keep coming back. It’s cathartic for me to write. To tell stories. And it’s cheaper than therapy. But to get to tell a story live—was both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Would I freeze up like Cindy Brady on the quiz show and have nightmares…”Baton Rouge…Baton Rouge!”
“Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge!” Kidding. I swear I was having the time of my life even though I look strangely disgusted here?
PHOTO CREDIT: Lollie Weeks, www.fortuitoushousewife.com
I expected to get a few laughs at the Old South Church that day. And I did.
I expected to suffocate in my Spanx. And I did. (And then wonder why I bothered because my face looks like a watermelon in every picture! Why don’t they make Spanx for chins? Is that so hard, Spanx people? Get on it for chrissakes!)
I expected to maybe sell a few books. Make some new connections. I think I did.
What I didn’t expect, was to gain 14 new friends. Oh, the production team told me at the audition, should I be chosen, I’d be bonded with my castmates. I smiled and nodded. But I didn’t know, not really. Oh, I love meeting people and I love new friends. I don’t think anyone can ever have enough friends. The big joke in my family growing up was, “Oh, give Janet a lolly pop and she’ll be your best friend.” I don’t know if it’s that simple but if you are nice to me, I will reciprocate in kind–lollypop or not! When my dad passed away a few years ago and my college roommates all flew in to be there for me, one of them joked, “We were going to see if we’d be more needed watching your kids. But we know you have friends in your town who would do that. Everyone thinks they’re your best friend.” It was and still is one of the biggest compliments of my life–and I share it because I don’t take being a friend lightly. And, while I’m grateful to have had the chance to tell my story, I’m more grateful to have had the chance to hear the stories from 14 remarkable people who now, whether they like it or not, are henceforth, mah new best friends! All aboard the crazy train!!!!!!!
Seriously. Exhibit A: watermelon head! WHY! This shot was taken on my way out of the after party with my lovely castmate, Diane Thies, who looks like Amy Adams. Watermelon and Amy Adams. Papperazzi, please don’t stalk us. Flowers and a bottle of beer, coat flung over my arm, I put the k in klassy.
PHOTO CREDIT: Diane Thies. www.dollopsofdiane.com
Oh look! Only one chin from far away!
PHOTO CREDIT: Lollie Weeks, www.fortuitoushousewife.com
These people, mostly moms save one brave 23 year old man whose LOVELY mom did a fine job raising him (There is hope! Wait, I forgot to ask him if he leaves his dirty socks on the floor still….). The rest of the group were moms…moms who beat back addiction and had the courage and the grace to share it for the greater good; moms strong enough to kick cancer’s ASS more than once, in the midst of parenting nine children (as in, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9….NINE…suck it Brady’s…they win!) while getting a doctorate (I can’t even manage to shower every day! Raise your hand if you’re SURE!); the moms who have suffered the loss of their own moms to death, and mental illness; who while separated by their own moms by geography, feel the bonds of love and tradition in the simplest of nightly routines; moms who have lived through the sex talk, a miscarriage, a daughter’s first thong (oh marone, I think hubs was grateful we have three sons when he heard that one!). Moms who are tireless advocates not just for their own kids, but all kids with special needs, and moms who are champions for all of us moms, regardless of how we do our “job”….that we will all be treated with the respect we deserve. Moms who remind us that to love a child is to know and receive unconditional love. And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? No matter what happens in the day to day, no matter how you parent or where you parent, there is no greater love than a mother for her child–it is unwavering and it is unconditional. And it is returned, 100 fold, like a gift you never thought you’d deserve to receive.
Thank you Jess Severson, Cheryl Pollock Stober, and Phyllis Myung, for choosing me to be in this special group.
As much as I loved this experience, as much as it changed me and made me realize I could do something I wasn’t sure I could do, I’m most grateful for the friendship of 14 remarkable people. One of my favorite sayings, that I’ve repeated mostly to my oldest son, 9, as he has navigated elementary school friendships, a saying he will surely tire of soon, is “Show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are.”
Mah peeps and me!
PHOTO CREDIT: Lollie Weeks, www.fortuitioushousewife.com
Do you have a story to tell? Would you like to see a Listen to Your Mother show? What are you waiting for! For more information, please visit the website Listen To Your Mother or feel free to reach out to moi.
Thank you to our generous sponsors, including Chevy, Improv Boston, Fivefork Farms, GreenHow, DGVE law, and To Cook Is To Love.