“Oh I thought of something else!” she said as I reached above her head to turn off the light on her bedside table. We had just finished saying her prayers and, as always, she had struggled to find things in her day to be thankful for. I make her reflect on her day every night but gratitude is a muscle that takes time to grow. I’m still growing mine.
“Oh? What is it?” I asked.
“I’m also thankful for helping you try on dresses tonight!”
I smiled. “I’m thankful for that too.”
“On the day of your show, I’m going to have so many favorite parts!”
Oh, my love, me too.
On a beautiful spring-like day this past January, I left my house at nap time and made my way into the city. With a shaking voice and tears I did not expect, I read my story to Listen to Your Mother DC producers Kate and Stephanie. We talked, we wiped tears from our eyes, and then it was over. In the two weeks between my audition and the day they would announce the cast, I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind. The temptation to dream of getting a spot on that stage was too much. I’ve got enough experience, now, in putting myself out there that I know quite well how to distract myself in the space between submitting and hearing back.
My daughter, however, does not. She asked me nearly every blessed day during those two weeks whether or not I would be ‘in the show.’ So, naturally, she was the first person I told when I found out that yes, I will be ‘in the show.’
I’ve been in love with Listen to Your Mother for years. I remember thinking, the first time I saw a blog post about it three years ago, that this is a thing I need to be a part of. People on a stage sharing their beautiful stories of motherhood in front of a live audience is every dream of mine come true. Oh to be in that room but, even more, to be on that stage. I imagined that the experience would break my heart into pieces and then put it back together all in the span of one afternoon spent with storytellers just like me (and, perhaps, not at all like me in all the best ways). I craved that kind of heartbreak in my life.
I took a couple of years after that, watching LTYM from a distance. It wasn’t resentment for the rejection (I know because I know that feeling fairly well). I still loved the show and everything about it. I still followed and liked and shared and cheered on friends who stood up to tell their stories. I still aimed for that stage. But I needed a little space.
In the space between audition 1 and audition 2, I realized that needing that kind of heartbreak and being ready to withstand it, to make it through it well and be ready to do something with it, are different things. Two years ago, I hadn’t written enough of my story to be able to stand up and tell it. My heart hadn’t learned how to soften in heartbreak rather than harden. I was incredibly distracted with a three-year-old and three-month-old and my hands were full. I wouldn’t have been able to accept the gift even if it had been held out to me. Motherhood had (and still has) so much more for me.
I strongly believe that we are ready for different things at different points in our lives. We can talk ourselves into believing we are ready when, really, we aren’t but the universe will figure out a way to tell us to slow down, take our time, get ready for the experience to be all that it needs to be. I believe that only when we are really, truly ready in the deepest parts of our hearts, will the transformational experience we crave really have the power to transform. I believe in being ready for life’s big moments.
And I’m ready now.
Of course, being ready for the experience and feeling ready to get up on stage in front of my family and friends (and lots of other people’s family and friends) are also very different things. My stomach flips when I think ahead to Sunday afternoon and two nights ago I dreamed that I showed up for my big day in my pajamas. I’m distracting my mind with choosing between dresses and trying to figure out how to apply bronzer so I don’t look like a ghost on stage. (Got tips!? Seriously, I’m taking tips!)
But mostly, because I’m ready, I’m curling up in this moment. I’m letting the nerves and excitement and awe wash over me and I’m taking it all in. I’m closing my eyes and picturing myself on stage and dreaming of all of the ways I will fully live every one of those minutes up there. I’m taking the time to watch my daughter get so excited about her Mommy going up on stage, seeing her eyes light up and knowing that, because I am ready, this moment is one that will stand out for her. This is one of those moments when I show her all that we can be.
And, yes, I’ve already started crying and we’re still five days from go-time. Maybe I shouldn’t wear mascara this weekend…
But the nerves, the excitement, the dreaming and the crying, those are life. Those come with standing up and being ready and taking part. And I’m ready to be in the show.
I couldn’t have ever even dreamed of being ready without Kate and Stephanie and all they do for LTYM-DC. They make this experience every amazing thing that it is and I’m so honored to do this with them. You can check out all of the latest news about our Sunday showtime and the amazing sponsors they’ve lined up right here.