Kansas City’s call for submissions has gone out and I am pounding the pavement letting people know about our show. I seem to encounter to same question over and over: what is “Listen to Your Mother?” And although I clearly know what it is, I have the hardest time explaining it to others. I fumble for exactly the right words. How can I possibly explain this thing- this show- these stories- this heart? How can I do it justice with my simple words?
I, too, had those same questions when I first heard about it. I went to my computer and began to watch the videos, one after another, eating them up like candy. I couldn’t stop. First Jenny Lawson’s “Judgment, You’re Soaking in It,” then “Our Chair” by Krystin Johnson laughing because my own husband begs daily for a recliner. I watched “The Penis Whisperer” by Marianne Walsh. I watched “Fupa” by Laura McNeill. These stories made me laugh and cry and think. These stories changed me. I’m sure to my children I must have seemed crazy. Swollen eyes and makeup-stained cheeks laughing like a lunatic. I knew I had to be a part of this. I knew I needed to.
When I sent in my own story, I was on pins and needles waiting to hear back whether or not I would be chosen. Then I was chosen and met the others for the first time; I was on high waiting to hear their stories. We gathered in the director’s basement one day and read to one another. Intimately guarded and loaded with tissues, we waited. We all exposed our souls. Each story changed me. I saw myself in these thirteen other women. Each story could have been my own. There was something in each of them that I, too, owned. A thread, a commonality. It was not just being a woman, but being and having a mother. It was motherhood. Of course it was.
I don’t know if I can make you understand this bond. I don’t know if I can truly make you see how this changes you. Even those that I invited to the show last year came to see me after and with tears in their eyes thanked me and held me close. They finally understood only after having seen and heard the stories. Comments like, “I never expected it to be like this,” and “This was so amazing. I had no idea.” I got a lot of “Thank you so much for sharing this with me.”
I hope to share this with you. To pass on what I now know is sacred and beautiful and important. The STORY. I know that Molly Shalz reading “The Random Placement of People” made me a better person, opened my eyes to my surroundings, and caused me to look for the signs. I know that Greta Funk’s reading “The Wondering” made me hug my husband a thousand times harder after hearing it, made me love even his snoring. I know that Michelle Burdick reading “I Listened to All the Things She Never Said” made me think about and love my own treasure trove of tools paid for with tears and wounded heart. Every night when I tuck my kids into their beds and kiss them goodnight, Sarah Guthrie’s “The Best Thing I Have Done” rings away in my mind.
I know that after we share this show with you Kansas City, you will be changed. I know that if you submit and are chosen to read you will never be the same. I know that if you come and sit in the plush pink chairs at Unity Temple and open your ears and hearts you will be forever grateful and you will never be the same.
So there it is, that’s the show. The best I can do to make you understand what it is. So submit a story, buy a ticket, come and listen. LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.