A few weekends ago, I had the honor and privilege to be a part of the 2nd annual Listen To Your Mother cast in Baltimore, Maryland. Right before I walked out on stage with my twelve fellow cast members, I thought about the process that got me here.
A friend of mine was a member in another show in another city two years ago. On the heels of losing Hank but not yet 100% aware of where I should be channeling my feelings about it, she suggested that I try out the following year. The problem was, the following year I was ready for labor at any moment with Elise. Adding a live stage performance two weeks after my due date seemed a bit daunting, even for me.
This year, on a snowy afternoon in February, I remembered that LTYM was always around Mother’s Day. Surely auditions would be soon, right? On the website, I saw that instead of a Philadelphia or Wilmington show, it was in Baltimore. No big deal- I consider Baltimore my second home, having spent my undergrad years in Charm City. How fitting that there was an open call for auditions, and one spot was available on the day I wanted?
I wrote, and I re-wrote. I read aloud to my husband, my dog, and my mom. I re-wrote again. The morning of my audition, I got the call that Baltimore city was shut down due to snow. Could I come the following weekend? If not, then I probably would have to wait until next year, as casting decisions needed to be made. Yes, I said, without thinking. I’d make it happen. And, I did.
My goal was to read my piece, which had to be 5-7 minutes in length, in front of five strangers at my audition. I wanted to BE the story. I wanted to convey it as it should be conveyed. I felt satisfied when I left. No should haves or could haves were going through my mind. I gave it my best, and I met my goal.
Two days later, I got the call. THE CALL. Out of hundreds of auditions, they chose me. Wow.
The next few months were filled with practices, and bonding with my cast sisters, as we call ourselves now. I was brought up to speed on the history of LTYM. I was surprised that so many contributors to the show over the year have gone on to do great things, like being New York Times Bestselling Authors. You know, no biggie.
The day of the show I wasn’t nervous. I was ready. When the house lights went down, and we got the nod to walk on stage, everything got fuzzy and I fell into the moment. As a friend and fellow cast member from another city said to me the day before- stay with the story. I did. I made the audience laugh, and cry, and then feel joy tinged with bittersweet sadness. The audible gasps as I read my piece did not go unnoticed. I drew strength from staring into those lights and never thought about the hundreds of people looking back at me. I told my story and I told it well.
When I finished, there was applause. There was applause for every one of us. We all have a story to tell. Some of us are brave enough to share in front of thousands of people and a microphone. Some aren’t, and that’s ok too. It doesn’t mean their story is any less important. Sharing is how we build a community, and out of a community comes support. That’s what being a mother is about to me.
I will never forget this experience, or the kind words said to me by strangers afterwards, or the people who told me they’ve been through something similar and thanked me for talking about it since they couldn’t.
I think Hank would have been proud of his mama.
*For those that would like to see the performance, all cities from the 2015 series will be added to the Listen To Your Mother website sometime this summer.