Last week, one of my favorite bloggers wrote a post that reminded me a little bit of someone I know (not me, honestly) and then, near the end, she wrote about how she was performing in a show about motherhood. The last shows would be that weekend. She posted a photo of the theater and I recognized it as one just a few blocks from my house. I thought, this is just the kind of thing I need right now, my mom will be in town over the weekend, it could not be more convenient, and I could introduce myself and meet someone in person whose writing is so often like reading my own thoughts. So I clicked the link and bought two tickets without further hesitation.
So on Saturday night, my mom fed Alice dinner and we tucked her into bed and headed out for a mother/daughter date - I can't remember the last time we got some real one-on-one time! We left the baby monitors with Jon as he and my dad worked away on a project in the garage. (We were all busy bees this weekend, working on and prepping lots of items on the "before baby comes" to-do list. Hopefully, we'll be able to share some progress posts soon!)
Anyway, my mom and I grabbed dinner before the show at a little place right across from the theater. The restaurant was full of ladies who were surely headed to the show as well, and one diner who turned out to be a performer. After our root beer float and cookie desserts, Mom and I settled into our seats in the second row of the tiny little "black box" theater.
The first performance of Expressing Motherhood was in June 2008, and there have been nine more since then - a total of eight in LA, one in NYC, and one in Boston. The creators, Lindsay Kavet and Jessica Cribbs are stay-at-home moms who wanted to tap into their pre-baby creativity and launch a "communal story-telling platform for all kinds of moms." Each cast features about ten women, each sharing their own stories and perspectives of motherhood.
I've had a rough couple of weeks - I think the third trimester hormones are hitting me hard and busy days at work are using up a lot of my mental/emotional reserves. It always replenishes my spirit to talk to other mothers and even just read their stories in books, on blogs, forums, etc.
The show was totally the medicine I needed. I was afraid I'd regret not stocking my purse with Kleenex, but my eyes only welled a few times and I spent much more time laughing than not. I loved the wide range of experiences and perspectives; moms shared their stories of being a pregnant teen running away from home, dealing with their parents and in-laws as a new parent, talking to kids about the tooth fairy and sex ed, taking their only daughter across the country for college, seeing how kids change our bodies and our lives, and trying to maintain an identity as an individual, a woman, and a wife after having kids.
I feel like no matter where you are in your journey through motherhood, the many facets and experiences are all so universally relatable. We've all been embarrassed or betrayed by our post-pregnancy bodies in some way. Any mother can understand another mother's pain when her child is hurt, no matter what the circumstance. We all know how hard it can be to navigate through the good intentions of our loved ones (and strangers), when it comes to our parenting choices. We all understand the strain that mothering can put on our relationships with our husbands, our extended families, our friends. We've all stared at ourselves in the mirror, wondering if there is anything left of that girl who used to have so much fun; we've longed for adult interaction and rejoiced when we've found ourselves child-free, maybe even dressed up, in a stimulating environment with other adults where the conversation is not dominated by talk of feeding/nap schedules, potty training, or endless interruptions and demands from a toddler. Talking about these experiences, feelings, journeys, it is what keeps us mothers sane.
As much as I love the daily dose of camaraderie, humor, and inspiration that I get from the "mom" blogs I follow, it was wonderful to see these real women, standing up in real life and sharing their stories with an attentive room full of other women (and even a few supportive men). One performer spoke of suffering through "mom group playdates" where the only thing she had in common with the other women was that they all had babies. I can relate. But these women, I wanted to go out with them afterwards and get drinks and talk more about bedazzled mom jeans. I satisfied myself by chatting with Krista on the sidewalk, soaking up the performers' post-show high as they orbited around, until it was way, way past my bedtime.
The evening provided a much-needed boost to my spirits and the stories and themes have been bouncing around in my head ever since. I want to write more here, to capture more of the small moments and the abstract impressions of being a mother. I just need to find the words, and the time.
If you don't live in L.A, Listen To Your Mother is another show with a similar format, currently performed in ten different cities. I know I'll definitely be in the audience when Expressing Motherhood hits the stage again.