So I’m doing this thing that is not very like me. It involves:
1. Leaving the house
2. Meeting strangers
3. Telling a somewhat personal story in front of a very large group of strangers
This is the thing: It’s called Listen to Your Mother, and it is women talking about motherhood in all kinds of ways.
And if you are like me, when you first hear this idea you would be thinking “If I wanted to watch Hallmark Channel meets the O Network, I would get cable.”
Luckily I first heard of this idea last year, when two friends of mine, Kelly and Jeanne, participated in the show. Over the course of many weeks I got to see them talk and post and blog about their amazing experiences. (As it happened, due to some Standard Issue Catastrophe I didn’t get to see the actual show, though I have seen Kelly and Jeanne on YouTube.) Curiosity and longing for a similar peak moment overcame my initial skepticism, so I submitted a story, and auditioned, and now here I am, in the cast of the second year of Listen to Your Mother—Twin Cities.
I say I overcame my initial skepticism, but I must admit, while I trusted my friends’ glowing reports, I could not imagine exactly how the magic would work.
Tonight we had our first read-through as a group, and I will tell you, it works.
One woman tells a story, and you think, “Oh my gosh, that is an incredible story!” And then another woman tells a story, and you think, “Wow, that is fascinating.” And then the next woman tells a story, and you don’t want to cry, because you are not that kind of person, and yet there you are eyeing the Kleenex box because you can’t help but be moved by her experiences and her honesty and her hard-earned wisdom.
We’re arranged around the table in order of how we might read at the show, and looking around I could see that this is a solidly Twin Cities group of ladies. From the outside we do not look particularly diverse, and we look incredibly ordinary. But then people start talking, and suddenly this woman who looks like a hundred other women jogging the lakes or driving car pool tells a story of shattered expectations or profound loss. Suddenly, every ordinary woman is concealing fascinating, brave, funny, and uniquely true stories that belie our everyday appearance.
The first read-through made me so excited to get people to the show, so they can hear what I heard. It also made me look forward to getting to know these people (strangers!) who are carrying around amazing stories, to ask questions and be surprised all over again.
Even more, it made me want to go to the grocery store or the mall and just look at the women there, mothers or daughters or both, and simply recall that each of them has a story—many stories—that I will probably never hear. Not that I’ll go anytime soon, because that would entail leaving the house again. But I want to remember that feeling as long as I can, nonetheless.