Listen To Your Mother is a series of staged readings about motherhood done in 41 cities across the United States and Canada in the weeks before Mother’s Day each year.
Local writers in each of these cities write short pieces about motherhood and then audition for the opportunity to be cast. My writing was one of only 13 chosen for Rochester, New York, for the 2016 season.
The Rochester topics this year varied: funny stories of mothers who were bold characters in this world, the acceptance required to raise a transgender child, the raw pain of post-partum depression, parenting a tween as she finds her way and you lose your own, cultural definitions of motherhood, coming to terms with your own mother’s death when you know she will never meet your unborn child, the day-to-day insecurities we all feel about the little things and whether or not we are ‘good enough’, choosing non-traditional paths in life, and so many more.
Saturday night at the Lyric Theater, and in front of a crowd of more than 650 people (including one of my daughters, my own mother, my boyfriend, my brother and sister, many dear friends who have seen me through the worst of it and even a few women whom I have personally helped) I read a very emotional piece entitled “Glass Slippers” about my own parenting journey. And when I was finished reading, they applauded. And when we were all finished, they stood.
Since Saturday I have been called a liar. The truth about what happened is being twisted. Friends and family have expressed that they feel I am in danger for finally raising my voice. I expected that these things might happen but chose to speak anyway because silence just propagates the problem and leaves wounds that won’t heal. I am taking proper measures to stay safe and I’m already facing these challenges and others with grace and compassion. My only agenda is for healing ~ myself, my children, others like me. And, yes, even those who behave in ways that harm others.
For now I will hold onto the fact that, in the lobby after the event, people approached and thanked me for being courageous, asked me to hug them, and held my hand while their eyes welled with tears explaining that I had just told their own mother’s story. My truth made a difference in the world and I hope others will feel emboldened to tell their truths as well. In fact, I would welcome the company as I stand here today feeling weary and exposed.
On Mother’s Day I received an email from a complete stranger which said “Your piece gave me the chills. I realized at the end of it that I had been holding my breath, taking air, holding my breath, repeat. I’m finding it hard to give words to what occurred when you shared your story, but it felt like a collective grief and collective hope.”
Collective grief and collective hope.
Now, after years of pretending that everything was okay and doing my best to just get through I am sometimes reduced to sobbing.
Because somebody finally listened.