But I’m not sure I believed her.
I’m not sure I believed that we could fly so high. I never imagined that I would see something I helped to create up in lights.
I didn’t believe Elise and I could be the catalyst for the kind of once-in-a-lifetime night that happened Sunday night. I didn’t believe I could feel just a tiny bit like a rock star. I think it was mostly the make-up.
Photography credit throughout: Kristina Mattson.
I did believe in the women in our cast from the moment they arrived – through a blinding snowstorm – to audition for us to the moment they each stepped out onto the stage and faced the lights and the audience alone. But that’s getting ahead of the story and as Zibby told us, every good story starts at the beginning.
It started with make-up and nervous anticipation.
A little laughter. A little wine. Quiet review of words already memorized.
A little freaking out about the late (but not really) videographer, the only thing that could ever get me to stay that close to my phone. A little support. A little mutual oh-my-fucking-god. I have no idea why I’m pointing so viciously at Annie in that photo, but she looks like I just gave her a time-out. I did not.
In an instant it was time for the technical walk through.
And then all was quietly ready.
There are so many incredible things in life that, in the end, after all the preparation and stress and planning and hoping and praying, need nothing more than a little space. Children. Bread. Gardens. Friends. Ideas. Love. Stories. Step back a little, let go, and they almost always stun with their ability to outshine your wildest imaginings. Magic can’t be planned and it can’t be manufactured. It happens in that strange space where fear and trust collide.
From top left: Nicole Sheets, Linda Lawrence Hunt, Phaedra Jarrett, Stacey Conner, Zibby Merritt, Tammy Santana, Carole Smith, Annie Tegen, Katie Scanlon-Gehn, Elise Raimi, Shelley Prosise and Lynn Caruso.
Annie opened the show speaking about the poignant moment when her daughter made her realize that her dreams weren’t on hold while she raised children.
Carole helped us to understand her pain at not knowing her birth family and the joy and healing of learning that her first mother searched for her.
Tammy painted a vivid picture of growing of up on a farm in Montana and the life lessons it taught her.
The audience laughed until they cried over Elise’s tale of terror and woe at the Disney Jedi Academy with a very sensitive child.
Linda trusted us all with the story of her daughter’s death and the power of their journey to Bolivia to recreate her last months.
Lynn showed with the gorgeous images of her poems how few words it takes to paint a picture of a child.
Everyone grabbed for the tissues as Zibby shared the pain of letting go of having babies, the little girl she lost, and the sign that helped her come to terms with her full nest.
Shelley made us giggle with stories of traveling with her kids and suggested buying drinks for those around you to smooth the ride.
Katie let us glimpse the pain of the end of a marriage, the judgment and courage, the friends lost and gained, and the constant flow of motherhood interrupted by a new type of normal.
I shared the brutal moment when I knew that our traumatized child’s behavior was too much for me to handle as a parent and the understanding it brought about supporting all mothers.
And Nicole left us all uplifted and wistful with her funny, flippant portrait of her life as a single woman, her quick sarcasm, her longing for a family and her belief in being sweet in the face of irritation.
Elise said it best: “Here I sit, three days later, with tears in my eyes. It all went so fast. I didn’t get to look each cast member in the eye and tell them exactly how amazing I thought they were or how they and their stories will always be a part of me or how grateful I am to them for trusting me and Stacey, and trusting themselves, and leaving it all on the stage. Because that is truly what happened that night.”
It truly is.
Nicole learned some excellent lessons from her LTYM experience, shared with her usual delightful wit.
“Breathe (this was written in all caps on a piece of paper in the greenroom at the theater. Handy mantra! Memorable. Catchy). If you’ve got a Listen To Your Mother event in your area, go next year. (Stacey-YES! OR AUDITION!) If you’ve got stories inside, write them down. Share them with others. We love to hear them. High five your mom, a mom, any nurturing person in your life. Extra mascara doesn’t hurt when the big fat limelight beams of temporal fame are aimed at you. Wear the shoes that allow you to walk tall, with your heart open and your head held high.”
Some of us were friends before the show.
But we are all connected now, friends and more.
Carole wrote of the sadness we all feel to have something so beautifully intense end. “I emailed for an audition. And my journey began. The pins-and-needles. The anticipation. The highs of the yes and the thrills of a journey upon completely uncharted territory. The approval. The acceptance. The camaraderie of other women with stories. Stories that you just don’t go around talking about in everyday life. … We all left the theater that night on a high. The speakers and the audience. The young and the old. The male and the female. It was truly amazing. Most of us probably had a hard time getting to sleep that night from the raw emotions coursing through our veins. But eventually we all did. And then we woke up Monday morning. Life goes on.”
Thank you so much national sponsors Snapfish by HP and BlogHer, and local sponsors Follger Photography, River Day School, Ruby Hotel and Sapphire Lounge, Yoga Shala, and Metro Woman. Thank you Kristina and Jeni for the gorgeous photography. Thank you Leah, our make-up artist, for beauty and long eyelashes. Thank you Becky, Christy, Teresa, Jen, Brittany, Matt, Jeremy, and Amy for running the front of the house like the pros you are. Thank you to all the friends, family and supporters who came to help us give motherhood a microphone.
I hope I have more days like this in my life. The after parties are really fun!