Spotlight on Sarah Watts Wisniewski

by Tracey on April 28, 2014

With less than a week left before our show comes to stage, we have only a few spotlights left! We’re happy to introduce you to Sarah Watts Wisniewski. She tends to make me laugh hysterically and then start to cry. And then laugh again. I like the roller coaster, so it’s ok.


By Sarah Watts Wisniewski

Public speaking has never scared me.

Apparently, most people fear it worse than death. But I’ve always thought it was incredibly fun. In a former life, in high school, I spoke and sang in public for fun. Speech competitions, spring musicals, you name it.

You know what scares me?


And you know what else?

Being a mom.

Being a mom scares me.

Motherhood scares me because I look my failures in the face every day. I’m too loud. I’m too immature. I swear too much. I’m lazy, easily bored, impatient.

And I hate going outside. Aren’t moms supposed to love going outside? Because lying on the couch and eating candy is maybe my favorite thing to do, ever. And sometimes, instead of doing elaborate, outdoor crafts involving corn starch and dish soap and then Instagramming that shit, the kids and I lay on the couch and eat candy together.

As a matter of fact, aren’t moms supposed to painstakingly dress their children every morning in adorable, expensive, coordinated ensembles? Aren’t they supposed to spend an arm and a leg professionally photographing them holding chalkboard signs with quirky sayings? We get our clothes from yard sales and wear our pajamas to the library. We snap pictures of them on our iPhones. Pajamas are just a social construct anyway, right?


Aren’t moms supposed to lovingly transcribe every one of our child’s developmental milestones in a thick, incredibly detailed baby book? Aren’t we supposed to know the exact location of every emerging tooth, the exact ounces of breast milk they consume at every feeding, the date (and time!) they started sleeping through the night – and then aren’t we supposed to spend hours scrapbooking and modge- podging everything into a beautifully composed, colorful memory book? Because … no. My son has monthly evaluations from a developmental specialist, and I just staple the progress reports in his baby book – the one I got from a yard sale. Last week.

And aren’t moms supposed to frown at the inappropriate things their children say? Aren’t they supposed to chastise them gently? Because sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I laugh. Butts are funny. Poop is funny. God help me, IT’S FUNNY. I’m only human.

Speaking this year at Listen To Your Mother is not the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Exhilarating? Yes. Emotional? Yes. Scary? No.

The scariest thing I’ve ever done was birth two human beings and then realize I have the power to unilaterally screw them up forever. Even scarier is the realization that if I do screw them up, I’ll probably only realize it in retrospect, and by the time my daughter joins a gang and starts carjacking people, it’ll be too late to do anything.

Am I “mom” enough? Am I nurturing enough? Am I doing all of this right?

I decided to audition for the show because, actually, I love public speaking. And I love being a mother. I love these children. And one of them especially has a story to tell. I am helping him write his story every day, in spite of my own failings, and I am bursting at the seams to share it with everyone. It’s a story of hope. And it’s a story about how something that might look like failure, something that might look bleak and terrible, might be in reality be the biggest blessing of your life.

I’m honored to share the stage with fourteen amazing women who have fourteen incredible stories. We’re all caring, capable women who are just trying not to screw everyone up too badly. We’re all a little bit scared, in one way or another. And we’ve all got a story to tell.

Please join us.

~~Sarah writes at

Sarah, I can guarantee you, a little candy and swearing won’t screw your kids up! Mine are relatively normal…ish.

Just one week left to get your tickets to this year’s Chicago Listen To Your Mother Show!

Tracey April 28, 2014 at 9:56 am

Sarah, I fully support eating candy on the couch with my kids as a “bonding method.”

anne kiphen April 30, 2014 at 6:13 am

I love this, Sarah. You are a beautiful mother.

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