I joined a cast of 14 women and 1 man to stand on a stage and tell stories about motherhood. In 32 other cities this month, other casts did the same. And as someone who truly believes in the power of stories to change the world, it was akin to a holy experience.
Of course, getting up on a stage in front of 250-odd folks is also a terrifying experience. I take some pretty heavy duty heart meds that keep me from feeling very physically stressed– it’s hard to panic when your heart can’t beat fast and your blood pressure stays nice and evenly keeled. My husband asked me if I felt nervous, and I said I felt fine. Except my arm pits were betraying me. Dressed in a sunny yellow frock I had proudly sewed myself, a project I finished the week I discovered I was pregnant, a dress I had been so proud of and cried over thinking it may never fit again, I had attired myself in a powerful symbol of my own creativity, and the fact that I’m still me, even after this three year journey of motherhood. Unfortunately, I was sweating nervous buckets– it looked like I had poured a cup of water under each arm. (It turns out my serious sweating is also a side effect of Metoprolol, one of the medicines I take for my heart. I looked it up when I got home.) I wanted to cry, I stressed about it backstage, and my LTYM sisters gently teased but mostly reassured me that everything would be fine.
And they have truly become sisters. THIS is how powerful stories are. We come from different backgrounds. We have very different beliefs about all kinds of issues big and small. Some of us are religious, some aren’t. Some conservative, some liberal. Some younger, some older. Some of us are just starting out on this parenting gig, and others are now raising grandkids. Some of us birthed our babies, some of us adopted them, and others tragically lost them. Some of us are/were working parents and others stay at home. If polled on hot button mommy wars issues, we’d probably disagree in a hundred ways.
We all share some things that are much more important than that. We have all had our hearts stretched, grown, and even broken in this journey called parenting. We all believe that there’s something in our stories worth telling. We all feel the need to write and to share. We all wanted each other to succeed, because the show wasn’t about us as individuals, but as a whole group. And so we laughed and cried and power-posed and deep breathed and cheered each other on.
And. We. Rocked. It. I don’t know how, but each and every single cast member gave her best performance yesterday afternoon. I felt a little strange, because the stage lighting completely blacked out the audience, so it felt like reading into a black hole. So I read for the people standing behind me, and their love and energy carried me through.
Eventually, video of our performance and those from the other 32 Listen To Your Mother Shows around the country will be available online. I promise I’ll share it, and the text of my piece, here. I talked about how my near-death birth experience has made me fearless. My husband and I have been talking about sharing a version of that story from his perspective for the first time, as well.
In the meantime, I hope the message you get here is that the things that can unite us are so much more powerful and important than the little things we so often let divide us. Let’s tell THAT story. Let’s sing a unity song. And if you’ve got a story to share, consider submitting to LTYM next year. Or starting a blog. Or heck, even letting me post in on this tiny corner of the internet. Because there is power in the telling and the sharing.
*Cast photo stolen from one of our producers, Kerri.