Retrospective

We held Listen To Your Mother auditions yesterday in a white-out blizzard that started cute and cozy, as snowstorms do, pillowing the murk and grime with feathery white, smoothing the rough spots and fluffing the comforter before letting it float down over Spokane, thick and heavy.  It quickly became a royal nuisance and then, as dark fell, an actual danger with jagged edges and closed roads and oil-slick ice patches.

Elise and I sat, our pens arranged, our venti coffees hot, our review sheets blank and white, in front of the overly-energetic heaters in one of the rooms of our children’s preschool. The windows above the heaters were open to let in some air that didn’t smell like burning church dust. We wondered if anyone would make it.  Did their horse know the way through the blind and drifting snow? Would they come and if they came would they have a story? Would they tell it well?  Would we laugh, cry, snort, empathize, nod?

All of the worries that roost on our side of the table are still far fewer than the fears of those on the other side of the table who speak their truths to strangers, trusting that we’ll hold them gently.

We needn’t have worried (and I hope they feel the same).  They came and their stories were gorgeous.  Our stories are gorgeous.  Terrible and hilarious and heavy and light.  That is the magic of Listen To Your Mother. The same magic that inhabits BlogHer’s Voices of the Year (… submissions are open). It’s the transformational power of storytelling. The power to make us acknowledge the humanity on every side of us and our place in it.

I love every minute of LTYM auditions, but they leave my unsettled and jittery. Somehow wanting to be a part of it all in a bigger sense.  More connected. More in tune. At the same time, they force me to take a step back and see how temporary my little world is, so much so that I want to bury myself in my own children’s now.  If I wait, will I lose my chance? Will it pass me by?  Should I dive in deeper, find a way to go to BlogHer, connect, learn, grow?  How can I miss it?  I look around the dinner table and I know I can. I am helping people to share their stories in my own small way and it is enough.  It is balanced perfectly on the scale against my four babies, the driving and the tucking and the feeding and the playing.  For now.

I am no less changed for not wanting more.

Spin in a circle in a public place tomorrow. Go on, do it.  Think you’ll look foolish?  Who cares? That woman over there in the heavy gold earrings lost a child – a married, happy, 28-year-old child – when her bus plummeted over a cliff in Brazil. The young, timid girl on the bench is searching for her birthmother. The exhausted woman without a coat? Her son was hit by a car three weeks ago and even as he heals, her hands keep shaking.  The woman you think you know at preschool lost her sister at sixteen.  Your acquaintance in heels and pearls at Kindermusik worked an oil rig in Louisiana after college.

Now take a spin around your favorite haunts on the internet. Remember that post that you could not stop thinking about for weeks?  Submit it here. The writers you love do not have to be going to BlogHer to be honored (only to present at the keynote).

I’m going to stand in my kids’ room while they sleep for a little while. Maybe press my forehead to the window and contemplate the way the snow coats each branch of every tree, the way it transforms our quiet boulevard into a fantastic palace in a fairy tale.  I’m going to let the knowledge that they are children for ten – maybe twelve? – more years slowly drain all the restlessness out of my soul.

25 Responses to Retrospective
  1. Gayle
    February 27, 2012 | 7:41 am

    That is such a wonderful photo of the kids in the leaves. Sometimes I think I forget just how close in age they are. What wonderful childhood memories that will make.

    (Glad your auditions went well).

  2. hokgardner
    February 27, 2012 | 12:57 pm

    You seem to have a talent for writing just this kind of post when I need reminding most.

    Thank you

  3. Galit Breen
    February 27, 2012 | 1:11 pm

    Chills, as always.

    The beautiful way you share a slice of your day and whirl it and weave it until it becomes a slice of mine, is exactly why you take my breath away.

    One more time: chills.

    xo

  4. Jessica
    February 27, 2012 | 1:39 pm

    You expressed this so perfectly, how blogging can be our window to the greater world. I once felt so alone in my grief and wondered why I should write anything down because no one could possibly understand. Now I understand that sharing was a path to helping me heal, that everyone may not have walked in my shoes but they have walked their own difficult path and will take my hand and try to help me through my own. This post? Explains that so perfectly I want to read it again.

  5. Upstatemamma
    February 27, 2012 | 3:31 pm

    It is so true. They really do grow so quickly. Sometimes the days feel so long and yet the years go by so fast.

  6. Lady Jennie
    February 27, 2012 | 4:17 pm

    This writing is so rich and it makes me want to soak it all in too. I’m glad people came and braved the snowstorm. I would have to.

    And of COURSE I think you should find a way to come to BlogHer (but you know what I think). :-)

  7. Issa
    February 27, 2012 | 5:26 pm

    This was beautiful. I wish I could have been in that room. Or in San Francisco on Saturday. Part of me wishes I could hold one here. Maybe in a few years.

  8. Varda (SquashedMom)
    February 27, 2012 | 5:59 pm

    So beautiful. We had our first day of auditions here in NYC yesterday. So many stories already & I can’t wait to see what the next 2 days bring. As I have been reading others reporting back from their auditions, I keep wanting to have my own private magic schoolbus so i could travel around to all the other LTYM shows, to be there and witness them live. I know they’ll be up on YouTube, but still, it’s just not the same.

    So thrilled to be a part of this with you. Our stories are important!

  9. Marguerite
    February 27, 2012 | 10:05 pm

    I can share with you as a mother of five beautiful, kind, respectful, FUN, smart children ages 23, 22, 21, 17, and 11 (4 boys and then a girl) that it truly, truly goes by in the blink of an eye. I tell them all the time I just want them back in their ninja turtle jammies right out of the bath smelling like babies do, but they continue to grow into adults anyway. My oldest is in law school and the next two are in their undergrad years and so basically, out the door. I think that is why I enjoy reading your words so much, it brings me back and for that I truly thank you. Another blog I look at everyday is An Inch of Gray….my heart breaks for that family every single day. To all you Moms out there blogging, thank you from us “old timers”.

  10. Loukia
    February 28, 2012 | 4:03 am

    No, really. Why do children grow up so quickly? My gosh, if there is one piece of advice that is said over and over again, it is “Enjoy the moment! They grow so quickly!” Seriously, they do. Which is why I still stleep with my four year old, which is I why I am doing everything in my power to hold onto every single second, to make it last and last. I want to submit something to BlogHer this year. I hope I am brave enough to do so, however, hearing you and everyone else over the last two years, you’ve all been so darn amazing that I fell like I am out of my league completely. xo

  11. Elaine
    February 28, 2012 | 4:52 am

    I hope to make it to one of the LTYM productions one year. I wish they would do one somewhere in Texas, I doubt it would happen here in Louisiana, but I guess you never know. The little taste I had of it at BlogHer last year was nothing short of amazing. As are you for keeping that ball rolling.

    xoxo

  12. Annie
    February 28, 2012 | 1:52 pm

    Perspective. Love how you provide. I really enjoy your writing. The internal battles we feed are voiced beautifully. Thank you.

  13. Lyndsay
    February 28, 2012 | 5:47 pm

    The thought that this time is just too damn short has been weighing heavily on my mind lately too.
    Congratulations on another year of LTYM. I’d sure love to sit in the audience one day!

  14. Amy
    February 28, 2012 | 7:01 pm

    as always, wonderful post. Can’t wait for this year’s LTYM!

  15. The Mommy Therapy
    February 28, 2012 | 7:20 pm

    I recently submitted an essay to audition here in Austin. (Austin takes submissions and then you may or may not be called in for an audition.) I have been nervous and feeling desperate about the whole thing, I want to share my story so badly. LTYM is this amazing opportunity to be truly who we are as people, it just happens to relate to mothering.

    I wrestle with wanting more time with my small children, and wanting more time for me. It’s a new struggle though, I used to only bed for me time. I assume soon I’ll be solely thinking of how quickly they left me.

    Glad your auditions went well. Nothing like a snow storm to make the whole thing a whole lot more exciting!

  16. Elle
    February 29, 2012 | 6:56 am

    Wow, this post really made me think about various aspects of life. It made me want to hug my kids so hard.

  17. tracy@sellabitmum
    February 29, 2012 | 3:24 pm

    So incredibly beautiful. I’m hopeful for Minneapolis soon.

  18. Adventures In Babywearing
    February 29, 2012 | 8:35 pm

    We are approaching audition time here and I am nervous and unready for the rawness of it all. I feel like who am I to judge these stories? Who am I to ask them to share? But if we didn’t, then would it never be spoken? There is just so much risk either way. And I’m thankful.

    Steph

  19. Jessica@Team Rasler
    March 1, 2012 | 4:45 am

    Here I was, trying to get out a post to express my own push-pull of restlessness at wanting more and yet wanting not to even blink for fear I’ll miss the growing up that’s happening all around me. I couldn’t find the right words, so I came here just to see what was happening and maybe clear my head, and… here you are, expressing it perfectly. Thank you.

  20. Maggie May Ethridge
    March 2, 2012 | 7:25 am

    That photo must be blown up and framed immediately!!!!

  21. Victoria Battle
    March 2, 2012 | 2:44 pm

    There are so many things in life that we yearn for and we want to find time for. It is the priorities that we need to decide. Sometimes we choose our personal goals over the good of humanity and I appreciate you that you have selected to be useful to this world than spending precious moments with your kids.

  22. tracey
    March 2, 2012 | 5:56 pm

    I wish I could go to BlogHer this year, but it doesn’t look promising. So be it. I can’t do every opportunity, though I’d like to. I am glad you guys had a good turn out despite the snowstorm!

  23. Alexandra
    April 12, 2012 | 12:49 am

    Man, oh man, but you are a writer.

    Whew.

  24. Katherine
    April 19, 2012 | 5:52 am

    any exhibition or series of showings or performances, as of musical works or motion pictures, representing the work of an artist or performer over all or a major part of a career: a retrospective of John Ford’s movies.

  25. news
    June 2, 2012 | 10:19 am

    Im getting a little issue. I cant get my reader to pick-up your rss feed, Im using yahoo reader by the way.

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