Mother’s Day weekend in Spokane was a success! My girlfriends and I had a wonderful time bonding in the countryside, and the Listen To Your Mother show went off without a hitch. I was honored to be part of such an amazing cast. Everyone nailed it and gave their best performance yet. The audience was extremely supportive, and I was able to talk to a few people who were personally touched by my story after the show.
I got past my nervousness, and read my piece with sincerity and vulnerability (I hope). My aim was to be as real and as in the moment as the lights, audience, and nerves would allow. I can confidently say that I did the best I could.
Here’s something interesting. The audience laughed during a portion of my essay. My piece was not intended to be funny. At all. In fact, it was at the pinnacle of my emotional vulnerability that the audience laughed.
I spoke to some friends and family after the show, and they suggested that it was the heaviness of the content that caused the audience to laugh. Perhaps they were looking for comedic relief. Or. Perhaps they were simply shocked at what I’d said.
Regardless, it was strange to be on stage and have a reaction the opposite of what I’d expected. I was just happy that I’d already released some emotion, and I wasn’t faced with crying while the audience laughed.
I hope to post the video soon so you can judge for yourselves. Until then, here are a few pics from the evening.
One of the highlights of the weekend was rehearsing in the country on the night before the show. I read to the trees, the hills, two horses, a few chickens, the rain and sunshine. I read through it twice, and I knew I was ready.
I was very happy that my mom was there to support me and share this special, unique Mother’s Day with me.
My support crew. Aka “Girlfriends who get it.”
I’m sitting in the way way back of my minivan. Five of my best girlfriends are with me. We’re six moms travelling away from our families on Mother’s Day weekend. I’m looking out the window at the spectacular Columbia River Gorge. Soon we’ll turn north and drive into Washington towards Spokane.
I was cast in a show called Listen To Your Mother that will take place in Spokane this weekend. It’s a national storytelling event celebrating motherhood. The mission of the show is to “take the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor–in the form of original readings performed live on-stage by their authors.”
I attended Portland’s Listen To Your Mother last year around this time. On the day of the show, I received an email from my embryo recipient with the subject line, “Two pink lines this morning.” Oh my goodness. She was pregnant. The range of emotions that I felt overwhelmed me. A part of me dreaded going to a show that night that celebrated motherhood. I was afraid that the content would be too painful on that particular day.
I was wrong. The show I witnessed took me on a beautiful journey exploring the many diverse facets of motherhood. I laughed, I cried. I related. I admired. I grew.
I sat in the audience and thought about my own story. Could I write something for next year’s show? I’m not a writer. I’m not a performer. I had never auditioned for a cast before. But I challenged myself to do just that. I knew exactly what I would write about. The universe made it very obvious that day.
I have always loved listening to good storytellers. It is a craft that I have long aspired to. For nearly a year, I thought about telling my story. I just needed to sit down and start writing, right? But how would I tell my story? And when would I feel inspired to do it?
It was the morning that he was born that I began writing. At that point, I wasn’t doing it to be cast in a show. I was doing it for myself. Writing became my therapy. It was such a vulnerable experience that getting my thoughts out on paper helped me navigate the vast range of emotions that I felt.
I didn’t revisit that writing for months. It was too painful. I was scared of returning to the raw emotions I’d felt on that day. But then it became time to audition. I knew I had to work on my piece. I had to read and reread it. I had to edit it. I had to read it aloud. I had to time myself. It needed to be a five-minute story, so I worked hard to shave it down.
The day of the audition was the first time I read my story aloud to another person. I told the producer/directors the title of my piece, and I began crying before I could even begin. I somehow made it to the end of the essay. I was happy that I had followed through on the challenge I had made to myself. I was aware of how therapeutic the experience had been. I was thankful for the opportunity. One week later, I found out that my story was chosen as one to be read on stage this year.
Since getting cast in the show, I have asked myself many times why I am doing this. Why did I challenge myself that day when I sat in the audience? Why did I write my story down? Why did I follow through with an audition? Why is this story important to tell? Am I doing this for myself? Is it a dedication to my family? Is it a way to say thank you to my friends who have been with me through this journey? Is it for the strangers in the audience that will hear this very personal story?
Or is it for the one person I may touch because my story resonates with them or they’ve been through a similar journey. Yes. That’s it. It’s for all of the above, but mostly for this. My story is important to tell because, in going through the embryo donation process, I have learned that there is very little support out there for women who have donated and/or are trying to make a decision about what to do with their frozen embryos. I believe there is such an opportunity for voices like mine (and others!) to be heard so that we can help support one another.
Just as I felt that donating my embryo was my calling to give my painful journey to motherhood a purpose, I feel that telling my story now, and helping/supporting others, is my calling to give my current pain a purpose.