The day of the “Listen to Your Mother” show, I prepared like any seasoned Broadway actress would: I frantically searched for my missing Spanx, cleaned the kitchen, pulled weeds, then laid on the couch for a marathon of Long Island Medium, channeling Spirit.
It’s method acting, people. I was preparing to be myself by being myself. And five minutes before I was leaving for the show, I fully embraced my character as Missy ran in gasping for air, “Silly. String. Got. Gag. In. My. Choke. Mouth.”
She continued to cough, “I puked, but I am okay.”
Junior arrives a few seconds later with blue foam in his hair. When I spot the string strewn on our leather coach, my children got a little preview of the LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER SCREAM show. (Trademark pending.)
“REALLY? YOU KNOW BETTER THAN TO SPRAY THAT CRAP INSIDE THE HOUSE! REALLY? TODAY OF ALL DAYS? NOW I AM STRAINING MY STAGE VOICE!” They were in tears. I was fuming and stormed out.
Here I am, representing “Giving motherhood a microphone,” and I just bellowed through a bullhorn at my poor kids.
As soon as I got to the parking garage I called home and apologized profusely to my daughter. “It’s okay, mom,” she replied. “Dad said that you are pretty stressed out and probably just snapped. Don’t worry about it, and just concentrate on your show. You’re going to be great!” Who is the adult here?
Once I was in the theatre, I felt better being surrounded by my LTYM posse who started to arrive in curlers and slippers and smiles. We were a true cast of characters, many of us meeting as nervous strangers at our first rehearsal. Those nerves faded into hilarious banter in our private not-rated-G Facebook playground. Online, we voted on outfits, provided therapy and fretted over facial hair. At our final rehearsal, we ran through the entire show only breaking to recover from Katy’s soul-gripping birthday letter to her daughter.
When we finished the practice, we stared at each other in disbelief.
We just created a Real Show. An emotionally charged, straight from the heart, roller coaster ride of the highs and lows of motherhood.
The best part of rehearsal was seeing the reaction of our incredible, encouraging producers Tracey and Melisa. All of their efforts of selecting just the right pieces, the right voices, the right order suddenly clicked. Their eyes lit up and we could feel their pride and complete faith in us. They were our Moms.
Backstage at the theatre, my nerves were getting the best of me and I started to get a headache. I scarfed down a sandwich in the dark, praying to not pull a Mama Cass and choke on it. I read through my story one last time in the hallway and collected myself. Kinda.
Photo of my Lycra-encased self by fellow cast mate Melissa Haak, Peanut Butter in my Hair
We gathered behind the curtain, breathing deeply, whispering words of encouragement. Exchanging smiles, hugs and thumbs up.
Then it started.
One by one, my story-sharing friends nailed their performances. You could tell from the audience’s laughter, the sniffling, the sighs that they too were emotionally invested. Everyone was immersed in the moment.
When my introduction was read, I was instantly fueled by their laughter over how my blog was named. (Junior’s attempt at waterboarding: repeating “mom, mom, mom” until my ears bleed.) I did a little shimmy, stepped up to the microphone and was blinded. The spotlight was so bright, that I couldn’t see faces — just blackness. Did everyone leave?
I started talking and to my surprise, discovered that the audience was still there. As I shared my story, the response was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. As a writer, there is no better gift than to have a people interact with your words. It was a complete rush.
After one break for laughter, I stopped in the middle of my story and blurted out, “This is so much fun!”
“Here we go,” my childhood friend thought as she watched, “They are going to need a hook to get her off the stage now. She is eating this up.”
Damn right I was! I soaked up every millisecond of those five minutes.
And every word spoken onstage by my incredible cast mates.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I was embraced after the show by a slew of my friends and family. I compared it to attending my own funeral! When else would I be surrounded by so many amazing people in my life saying nice things about me while bearing flowers? I was on cloud nine.
After a few celebratory drinks, my husband drove us home as I quizzed him about every aspect of the show, gabbing on about everyone who was there. He turned to me, “You know that you are loved by a lot of people.” I blushed.
I rolled off my Spanx, rifled through the fridge and reflected.
One minute, you’re on stage sharing your story with 300 people. The next, you are at home, eating leftover mac-n-cheese, sipping old wine and using a Subway napkin as TP because no one in the house can change the roll.
That’s the real story of motherhood.
There will be videos posted on LTYM’s YouTube channel in a few weeks. (Praying it doesn’t add 10 lbs.) I’ll be sure to let you know when they are live. Many of my friends who attended the show wanted to know more about the people behind the LTYM stories. You can find their bios and links to their sites here. And my friend Beth wrote a very sweet post from an audience member’s perspective on her blog Ups and Downs of a Yoga Mom. (Her photo proves that I was glowing!)