I performed in Listen To Your Mother. Lela Davidson was able to bring Listen To Your Mother to NWA after
paying off begging Ann Imig to give Northwest Arkansas a chance. She did give us a chance. Ann's payoff was a group of women wholeheartedly invested in being exactly who they are.
Although, NOW, I don't think I am who I was.
Because of the LTYM show, I have been transformed.
How can you not be transformed when you hear a woman reflect on burying her mom at 19 years of age, about another mother who fought to adopt a son and then falter in her self confidence, and yet another tell her biological mother's request for "friendship" on Facebook "NO!". One cannot be the same after hearing those stories, just as one cannot be the same after telling those stories. Each time we speak the words and reflect on these truths we change the landscape. We break free from the "what to expect when you are expecting" persuasion and we proclaim, "NOTHING can be expected!" Each story belongs to itself. It morphs and transforms and is as unique as each snowflake that falls.
There is power there. Power in that place.
You know the one...
The moment in time where you are no longer bound by parameters.
I remember turning to a page in one of my pregnancy books. I thought, "where is MY story?" I couldn't find myself there. I couldn't find that chapter that was titled "What To Do When You've Had the Baby and Don't Want It Anymore."
Isolation and shame gives way to an audience full of people.
You feel the plastic sheet under your finger tips as you inhale to read.
You look out at the audience but see no faces, the light blinds your sight.
You speak the first words and very soon after that the last sentence.
You've told your story. You've shared a part of yourself. The show is over.
And just before you have time to reoccupy the world of self doubt and fear a woman walks up to you and grabs you underneath your arm and gently squeezes. "Me too", she says knowingly. You hold each other's glance. Through the humor and posturing she got it- Your story was her story.
That is it.
The point of telling your story is that not everyone can. Not everyone can stand on stage and say those words aloud. Not everyone can admit the fear they anticipate about their children growing up, being a "good enough mother", or wrestling with breastfeeding.
But today you read your story, you laughed and cried at the podium. You represented all the other little girls clicking decline to their biological mother's Facebook friendship request and struggling with unexpected pregnancies.
I don't know if Ann Imig knew what a gift she was creating when she penned the plans for Listen To Your Mother. She drew a line in the sand and simply said, "stand over here if you want to say it out loud. There are no rules, save talking about Motherhood."
No prescription for good mother or bad mother.
No list of how it is "supposed " to be done.
Just a blank canvass BYOP: bring your own paint.
Listen To Your Mother is an invitation to artistic expression. It marks a cultural shift toward realism in motherhood. Surrealism be damned!
The Listen To Your Mother show is one of the most beautifully orchestrated ways to say, "me too." Thanks for that gift Ann, motherhood officially owes you one! We've brought our own paint and we are creating a masterpiece. We'll call it "Motherhood."
[Photo courtesy of Megan Clemence Photography]