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Listen to Your Mother

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.

When we got home, the kids had decorated the dining room with millions of pieces of sparkly confetti. And because my daughter knows me so well, she left this card:

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.

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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!)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.mom-mom-mom.com/2012/05/08/listentoyourmothershowchicago/

25 comments

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  1. Kelly

    Now I have tears in my eyes again! I’m so happy for you, you deserve every bit of it! You were and are fantastic!

  2. Melisa

    This is a fantastic recap, Karen! You are hysterical and it was so much fun to hear, in the darkness backstage, your joy as you shared your words with the audience.

    I’m so happy to know you.

    Also, thanks for not including *certain* pictures here. 😉 xoxo

  3. megs

    Congrats sister, and all the other women too. I so wish I was there, and can’t wait to see the video!

    XO

  4. kim/reluctant renovator

    You sounded and looked fabulous and my gosh you had a huge cheering section. You do have a lot of people who love you. What a fun night.

  5. Marta

    Karen,
    I am so proud of you!. you were absolutely fantastic, I laughed, people cried (i’m not much of a crier in theaters, buried issues I guess) Your cast members were all wonderful as well, but to us, you were the light that shone brightest :)
    We love you.
    Marta.

  6. Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy

    your piece was fabulous but your reaction, even more priceless. It was great to be watch such an amazing cast!!

  7. Jenn

    The show was a smash hit! Please please do it again next year. You rocked!

  8. Karen

    What a great show!! It took us on an emotional roller coaster – I laughed, I cried, repeat several times. You did an amazing job – we are all so proud of you!! I am glad to have been a small part of the largest cheering contingency at the show!

  9. Karin

    Karen! I am bawling in a car wash waiting area to the great discomfort of a guy two tables over!!! My heart is bursting with happiness for you!! I love reading all of your posts, laugh with you from my perch up north and miss seeing you and laughing with you live, in person, more often… Can we get a mommy playdate on our coffee stained calendars sometime soon?! :)
    When I read about the show last week I immediately looked into getting tix and of course they were sold out. I’m sure your circle of friends made up a big part of those 300 seats! Lucky ladies… Sending you love from Auto Expo!

  10. Stacey

    I Love You Man!

    Oh…I love your husband too. When we left the restaurant after the show, he called me “Evolving” by name. Something like “Catch you later Evolving” or “Great to meet you Evolving”. It was like coming home to a wingman’s husband I’ve never met before.

  11. Maria

    Karen
    I’m so happy to hear everything went great.
    Like I said you had nothing to worry about
    and would be Fantastic !
    Congrats from all of is

  12. Ann

    The picture made me cry. And the glitter. And the card. And the fact that you stopped to say “THIS IS SO MUCH FUN”

    Heart=full.

  13. Leigh Ann

    Isn’t it an amazing experience? Up until the Austin show I was scared that we weren’t pulling together as a cast or delivering our pieces at their best. But on show day? We all kicked it up a notch! It was a wonderful day.

    And then I had to deal with getting yelled at to keep my kids quiet at our celebratory dinner. Motherhood never ends. I’m glad you had a good show!

  14. Deb

    Glorious summation of the life-changing force that IS Listen to Your Mother.

  15. tracey

    Holy hell, Karen. You made me pee. Well done. Well done…

    So glad you auditioned so that I could meet you and become your friend. :)

  16. Helen Reese

    SO proud of you, Karen! I knew you’d knock their socks off! Loved your blog post too. You inspired me…..

    Helen

  17. Patty

    Ditto to all that has been written above. Tom is right, you have A LOT

  18. Patty

    Oops- I got so excited it sent before I was done. You have A LOT of people who LOVE you! You ROCKED up there, thank you for inviting us to that wonderful night. And, not that it matters, but you looked mahhhvelous!!!!

  19. Alexandra

    I knew you’d be awesome.

    Your smile is contagious.

    YAY FOR YOU GOING OUT AND GRABBING THAT BRASS RING.

  20. Maureen & Danny

    I don’t see where I’ve been praised for not laughing or snort laughing loudly!
    You were great, btw. And I’m unbiased for sure!

  21. Hyacynth

    “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.”

    Still laughing this morning over this! BECAUSE IT’S SO TRUE!

  22. Becky (Princess Mikkimoto)

    I was in the audience that night (came down from Madison… LTYM 2010 alum) and LOVED YOU! “This is so much fun!” because it is.

    Awesome job!

  23. Yu-Li

    BRAVO!!! BRAVO!!!! Your recap brought me many LOLs and almost tears! Eileen’s card is just heart-melting. I am so happy for you and cannot wait to see the video! You are so wonderful, sincere and HILARIOUS…you deserve to ROCK!!!

  24. Karen

    Thank you everyone!!! I am still in a LTYM High and so humbled by all of your incredible support! Hope it inspires others to share their stories.

    Can’t wait to be in the audience next year — Spanx free!

  25. Amy

    Karen, you were fantastic! It was so fun to see you on stage and listen to your story, especially after being a devoted follower of your blog. I am so glad that I got to meet you, briefly, in person. What a fun night! Thank you to you and the other speakers for such a wonderful night. It was also so fun to be with Miss Colleen ; ) again. We preK moms just love the Stack sisters!

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