Show Celebrates Triangle Mothers One Story at a Time
This time last year, I started getting really nervous. You see, I had auditioned to share a personal story about motherhood in Raleigh-Durham’s first inaugural Listen to Your Mother show held the week of Mother’s Day at William Peace College—and along with 14 others, I had been selected. To make matters worse, all 280 seats were already sold out, my name was on the flyer and there was no backing out.
As someone who has spent the last decade gathering people’s stories and teaching people how to capture and edit stories themselves, I knew in my bones how powerful an event like this could be. Especially given the focus.
Why? Let’s face it. As mothers, one of the most important things we do in this demanding and ever-changing role is seek out and share stories. Sometimes, the stories help us loosen the reins on our own parenting a bit and laugh at our mistakes as we work to change course. It’s a relief to hear that we’re not the only ones struggling with sleep issues, potty training, or separation anxiety. At other times, the need for a story is more urgent. There’s a crisis at hand and no clear path forward. Or the only path forward is not one we believe we have the fortitude to weather. A story, shared at these moments openly and with compassion by someone who has been there, can make all the difference.
Four years ago, mother-blogger Ann Imig wondered what might happen if she rented a venue for one night the week of Mother’s Day and selected a dozen local writers in Madison, Wis., to each share one of their motherhood stories. When asked why she did it, Imig answered, “I felt like mothers deserved something more than a frittata once a year—something less retail-oriented and more community-focused.”
The audience loved it. They not only loved it, they implored writers in other regions to do the same. With Ann’s help, this year during the week of Mother’s Day, 32 cities will host a local production of Listen to Your Mother.
Last year, local mother-writers Marty Long and KeAnne Hoeg worked long hours to ensure the first production in Raleigh-Durham was a success. Marty Long said, “We had to convince Ann that we could pull it off, visit venues, write press releases, solicit stories, work with a cast, set up ticketing, find sponsors, advertise the show and produce it. I probably spent well over 100 hours, but it was utterly, utterly worth it.”
Nationally, almost 500 storytellers have participated in a Listen to Your Mother production to-date. Well over 10,000 people have attended the shows. LTYM videos on its YouTube channel have been viewed over 302,000 times. As an added bonus, more than $25,000 has been raised for local nonprofits.
Each show features a cast of local writers. Each cast member has under five minutes to tell her story. From an unexpected (“irresponsible,” and celebrated) late pregnancy to bringing a grandmother into the Internet age, from the heartbreak of quickly and unexpectedly losing a child to the surprise of hearing your unmarried child is pregnant, the stories shared in the Raleigh-Durham production of this year’s show are told candidly, from the heart and in ways that will make you laugh and cry and probably mumble to yourselves, “Me, too. Me, too.”
To meet anticipated demand, we will host two performances, Tuesday, May 6, and Thursday, May 8, 2014 at Kenan Auditorium at William Peace College in Raleigh.
Tickets are $20 and are available on-line at http://ltymrdu.brownpapertickets.com/
Note: A portion of all ticket proceeds goes to benefit Safe Child.
Excerpts from Listen to Your Mother authors’ stories of Motherhood
I had been pregnant or nursing for 4 ½ years straight. That’s more than 1,600 days of having given my body over to growing new people. And over the course of those days, like the misplaced pacifier you find years later behind the china cabinet, I had lost myself. And now here I was, covered in dust and dirt and kid snot, looking my lost self right in the eye.
– Elizabeth Martin (pictured at left with her son, Danny)
Maybe I shouldn’t ask, “Have I given Beatrice enough”? Maybe I should ask instead, “Has she had enough?” After all, she has never lacked for anything, and the hands that changed her diapers, wiped her nose, strapped her in her car seat, held her, read books to her, and prepared meals for her belonged to people who were loving me by loving my child.
– Erin Duffy (pictured at right with Beatrice)
I had recently graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. I had spent four years of post graduate work parsing sentences, learning Greek and Hebrew, exegeting words and laboring over preaching assignments. Pastoral counseling classes constantly reminded us to wisely choose what we say to the grieving. Or don’t say. Words had power.
My friend had come over for lunch and had brought her 3 boys, all under the age of 6. We were all standing in the kitchen when she saw my son Hunter pointing to the fridge. My higher education was just about to be thrown out the window.
– Katherine Schafer (pictured at left)
Fast forward 21 years. I’m walking across campus. It’s a miserably hot and humid day in July. My cell phone rings. It’s my oldest daughter. She tells me she’s pregnant. I say, “Now what? What’s your plan?” I tell her I’ll call her when I get off so we can talk. As I try to collect myself, I’m taken back, for a moment, to that hot, humid day in August 21 years earlier, when I was in the position she is right now.
– Lisa Bulls (pictured in main photo with her two daughters on the stairs)