My husband was the spontaneous one in our duo. I was the consummate event planner, detail monger, plan B and plan C girl; a hazard and benefit to having worked in meetings and events for most of my adult life. When MrTDJ would present one of his impulsive ideas (let’s go the park and ride the swings, or let’s stay in our PJ’s and watch horror movies all day), I’d do my best to toss my planner hat to the wind and ride his wave of exuberance. Most of the time, I was able to join him in fun without thinking of the what ifs. But, I can admit that there were many times when I simply could not suspend the part of my brain that processed exactly how many hours until work or until LittleTDJ finished his nap, and I’d dim his huge smile by explaining that we really should be doing laundry/cleaning/yard work, etc. Over the years, I worked hard to balance my need for over planning to MrTDJ’s need to live in the moment. It’s a lesson that he taught me during his short life and I’m forever grateful that I received it.
In the last 17 months, his wisdom has helped guide me through some of my darkest days. There is a common saying by grief counselors and medical professionals alike – in the days/weeks/months following a loved one’s death, you are encouraged to NOT make any large decisions regarding buying/selling houses and car, moving to different cities, changing jobs, changing schools for kids, adding/removing friends, etc.
My instinct, my faith and the love that surrounds me has empowered me to embrace MrTDJ’s spontaneity. That spontaneity allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and audition for the 2013 Listen To Your Mother show in Washington, DC. I wrote about my audition and selection here. Who knew that little audition would turn into so much more? In the month leading up to the show, each cast member was spotlighted by the production team. My spotlight is here. I became part of am amazing group of people with whom I might never have otherwise connected. Together, we each gave a unique, compelling and amazing reading of what motherhood meant to us. The big day finally came in April and I wrote all about it here. I entitled the piece that I wrote, Peanut Butter and Jelly. If you’ve not taken the time to watch it (why the heck not??), you should. The link is here.
It’s hard to explain how much the experience affected me and everyone involved. I believe that everyone has a story to tell if you just take a moment to listen. Often the person is too scared, too tired, too humble, too broken, too discouraged or too disappointed to share. And there are people who simply think that no one cares what they have to say. I receive many emails and messages thanking me for sharing my life so openly. I don’t know any other way to be. I’ve experienced a heart-break and an adjustment in the fabric of my life that many will never know. But, I walk amongst you in the land of the living because I must.
Sharing my words on the stage during Listen To Your Mother allowed me to touch the lives of every single person that heard my voice. Whether those that heard hugged their love partners a little harder, called that widow friend that they haven’t talked to in months/years, exercised a little more patience with their children, or reflected and were a little more thankful for their own lives, I know that there is power in words. A week ago, a woman at a local mall stopped me in the parking garage and said, “You’re peanut butter and jelly!” and then she hugged me. I knew immediately what she meant and I was moved. The idea of we can raise our voices to give motherhood an additional platform beyond the obligatory Hallmark card and flowers resonates with me.
My belief in this and my renewed spontaneity from MrTDJ, told me that I wanted to do more with Listen To Your Mother. I fully intended to audition again for the 2014 show. Then a different opportunity presented itself and I didn’t hesitate for a second before hitting the submit button. And then I got the answer. Everyone knows the moment that you get big news – you’ve waited and waited and crossed your fingers and prayed about the outcome. You’ve told yourself how much you wanted it to happen in your favor. But, you’ve probably also convinced yourself that it would be ok if it didn’t work out, in order to shield your heart from the disappointment.
Well, when I got the news that my proposal was accepted and I would be producing a new show for the 2014 Listen To Your Mother Show in Baltimore, I almost fainted. A huge “YES!” sprung forward from my throat, following immediately by an, “Oh Sh*t!”. And yes, both reactions are still at the tip of my tongue. I support everything that the show stands for and I believe that are a million stories out there that people need to hear. Motherhood is the common fabric that unites us all beyond the boundaries of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, political affiliation, education, and geographic location. Quite simply – if women don’t give birth, society dies.
As semi-close as Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD are, they kinda aren’t. They are actually two very separate metropolitan areas with their own cultures and identities. Only the failed Olympic bid from 2012 thought that the areas were one HUGE metro area. An hour or so by car from the center of one to the center of the other, but worlds apart in what you will find at those centers. Do you recall my story of the onion pickle? You should read that here. And what about that 5 digit water bill that I told you about here? How about a certain truck with an interesting slogan that I took a picture of here?
I’m not a native Baltimorean, but I have lived here for some time and embraced it as home, while assembling an awesome team that includes many who were born and raised here. I’m a sports girl who loves the The Ravens, a tv girl who owns the DVD box set to The Wire and I might punch you for a great crab cake. The world as a whole knows Baltimore for those three things and I’d love to show so much more. I’m confident that the stories here will be diverse, powerful, hilarious, compelling and painful as every other city.
I am so very appreciative of the support of the Washington, DC team of Kate @ The Big Piece of Cake and Stephanie @ Stephanie Says for allowing me to participate in the 2013 DC show. I’m looking forward to adding the 2014 Baltimore show to all the other stellar shows. I’ll provide more details in the near future regarding the show and how you can get involved if you are in Baltimore area. I need to hear YOUR voices and we need your support! Those who just can’t wait, feel free to send me an email. Welcome Listen To Your Mother to Baltimore for 2014!!