InvestMEnt of a Lifetime
by Mandy Reilly, Listen To Your Mother Alum 2014
Mandy Reilly is mama to six-year-old Cristian, who keeps her busy. Manda is active in the autism and special needs community, and in between working, parenting, and loving her family, you can find her working on her bucket list. We are proud to have had Mandy in our 2014 Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee cast.
Mommy guilt is real, y’all. And if you’re a working mother like me, mommy guilt hits you as soon as you punch out for the day and you’re not with your child. I see my co-workers more than I see my son, so it’s hard for me to reason with myself to spend even more time away from him for whatever reason.
I signed up to audition for Listen to Your Mother the first year Milwaukee had a show. I had my piece ready and was ready to go. It was a cold February morning and Cristian and I both woke up with stuffy noses and sore throats. I probably could have taken a few Dayquil and made the audition but I just didn’t want to leave him. Even though I was hit with a twinge of sadness every time I saw a post about the show or how great the cast was, I realized it was fate.
Coming from a background in Forensics during both middle school and high school, I think there really are traces of public speaking in my blood. I realized that I missed being on stage, having my voice heard and that feeling of accomplishment as the applause hugged me like a familiar stranger. As soon as I saw Alexandra’s post about auditions last year, I knew I needed to take action. Not just sign up for an audition but I knew I had to go this year and at least give it a shot.
I needed to do this for myself because I was missing that side of me. Or maybe I was missing myself in general. Mommy guilt isn’t only real, it’s the leading cause of mommy burnout. In between the bills, the work to pay the bills, the pickups, the drop offs, and the trips to the grocery store, it’s hard to remember that we had an identity before mother. I could tell that it was time for me to be a little selfish and to follow this path wherever it led me because it was an investment in myself. I had been withdrawing from the bank of me for so long that it was time to deposit something.
I was able to write my piece in less than an hour. I knew exactly what story I wanted to tell and how to tell it. Honestly, I didn’t even practice it before my audition because I wanted it to be fresh and raw. Sure, the story was about my son. But the voice that it gave me was all my own. I came out of that audition knowing that I had done something for myself and it felt so good. Of course I wanted to make the cast, but I knew if I hadn’t that there was a little more pep in my step.
When I got the e-mail stating that I made the cast, I was ecstatic. Mommy guilt came out of the trenches again as there would be practices and rehearsals but I quickly squelched those emotions. This would be something that I would remember for the rest of my life and something that I could show him in the future. It might not be a trophy like I’d earn at a forensics meet, but it was a badge of pride and honor that we both could wear.
As we drove away from Alverno after our LTYM show that evening, I let the comments from the audience permeate my soul. It was amazing how I could have touched that many people with my story about a craft store trip gone awry. I knew that I wanted to make more of an impact. Without Listen to Your Mother, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to put my writing out there. I know that without Listen to Your Mother I wouldn’t have been published on Mamalode, Autism Parenting Magazine or Woman’s World.
I made an investment in myself and it really has made a world of difference. It makes me a better version of myself which makes me a better mother. Thank you, Listen To Your Mother.
LTYM Milwaukee thanks you, Mandy, for your amazing story and for sharing your words here. You can view Mandy’s piece, “Do You Believe in Magic” on LTYM’s youtube channel. Her story is indeed, magical.