LTYM: Boulder- Video Release, Overdue Recap

So, there’s this little thing called The Listen To Your Mother Show. It features local writers reading their own essays on motherhood- the experience of being one, having one, or knowing one, in celebration of Mother’s Day. I’ve co-produced the Boulder LTYM show for three years in a row now, and it has been amazing. My dear reader, please note I do not use the term “amazing” lightly. I’m not talking The Most Amazing Sweet Potato Fries You’ll Ever Taste or the Amazing Secret of Flat Abs (also, does this exist??). I’m talking laugh till you cry, cry till you are digging in your purse for a tissue, and everything in between, Amazing with a capital A. And that’s just the show itself.

Bringing this event to my community with my lovely and talented co-producer/dear friend Joelle is an experience I can only compare to being pregnant and giving birth. I thought it would be a cool project, but I had no idea what it would be like and in what ways it would challenge me and force me to grow. And just when it felt like the workload was too much to bear, I could not handle one more email, text, call, or item on my to-do list, it was showtime, and my mind was blown.

As we processed onto the stage, the audience was going crazy for us, hollering, hooting, and clapping- and we hadn’t even done anything yet. They didn’t know what any of us were about say and they loved us anyway. I remember feeling awed, like, “They are dying to love us!” There was an energy in the room that felt like electricity on my skin and warmth in my heart.

We performed our show twice, and each and every cast member nailed it- positively nailed it- both times. Every last little bit of work was entirely worth it, as the audience heard our stories. The power of a story cannot be underestimated. We tell our own stories to make sense of our experiences. Stories connect us. Stories matter. It was such a gift to provide the opportunity for people to share their stories, with our community and now, with the entire internet.

If you came to the show, thank you for being part of it!! If you didn’t make it, the videos are online now. Here is the link to Boulder’s 2015 show.

videoszz

And here is my talk, called “A Farewell To Questionable Snacks,” on learning of Lady Bug’s allergy diagnosis…

Me reading, "A Farewell to Questionable Snacks" at the Dairy Center for the Arts. Video Credit: Joel Peterson

Me reading, “A Farewell to Questionable Snacks” at the Dairy Center for the Arts. Video Credit: Joel Peterson

 

 

Listen Up!

I had the pleasure of being a guest on Sarah Bagley‘s podcast this week. Her blog is dedicated her struggle to live a B+ life, or working on abandoning her perfectionist tendencies. Despite the fact that I am not naturally a perfectionist, I do struggle with trying to do too many things all the time.. Sarah and I discussed that, along with lots of other things we have in common, such as the Listen To Your Mother Show (she was in the Baltimore cast last year and I’m co-producing Boulder’s show for the third year in a row!), having two kids, balancing work and family, and lots more. You can listen here.

Listen To Your Mother 2014: My talk and a challenge.

I didn’t know whether I wanted kids. That’s what I’m talking about in essay I read at Boulder’s Listen To Your Mother Show. Here is a link to my talk, “The Joy of Pregnancy.” It seemed fitting that I should talk about pregnancy on stage, just two weeks shy of my due date. You will note I am very short of breath for the first few lines. This was due to a mixture of nerves and the exertion of walking across the stage with what would turn out to be a super size baby crushing my diaphragm.

My Listen To Your Mother 2014 talk "The Joy of Pregnancy"

My Listen To Your Mother 2014 talk: “The Joy of Pregnancy”

If you prefer to read it than listen to me talk (this is my preference), you can read the essay below.

Despite being ambivalent about watching my own talk, I am thoroughly enjoying watching all the other Listen To Your Mother talks. Go big or go home, I say. (About Listen To Your Mother, not my formerly enormous pregnant belly).

I don’t like to do things halfway. (Except washing dishes. I have a bad habit of not noticing stray bits of crud hanging out in the edges the frying pan). I’m committed to watching every single talk of every single Listen To Your Mother Show of the 2014 season. There were 32 shows in 2014, each with 12 or so talks. That’s a lot of talks. I’m going to have to be creative about how and when I listen, but I’m doing it.

I’ve downloaded the You Tube app on my phone and I listen when I am tidying the house, pumping (breastmilk, not iron), on the treadmill, in the car, on a walk, hanging laundry on the line, or (half-assedly) doing the dishes. Since the shows went up on the Listen To Your Mother You Tube Channel  at the beginning of this month, I’ve listened to Portland, Boston, and I’m in the middle of Austin. Having co-produced the Boulder show, I know it backward and forward, so I can check that one off my list, and I saw the Denver show in person. Only 28.5 shows to go!

So far, I have been struck by the local character of each show. There are the obvious differences, like the accents. But there are more subtle differences, too. One of the speakers in Atlanta closes with an amen. One of the memorable pieces in Portland’s lineup reminded me of something you would hear at a poetry slam. Meanwhile, one speaker in Boston made a joke about The Vatican. I’ve been tweeting out some of my favorite talks when the stars align such that I hear one that I especially love and I have an uninterrupted three minutes and two free hands to type the tweet, include the link, and mention the speaker, which is no small feat.

Is anyone else with me here? If you want to take on the challenge of listening to every single talk of the 2014 LTYM season, let me know. Last one done is a rotten egg! I happen to know for a fact I am not the only person crazy/LTYM-obsessed enough to do this. Fellow co-producer Kate Hood of the Washington DC show is all over this. She is, in fact, the one who inspired me to take on the 32 city challenge).

*   *    *

The essay I read at Boulder’s 2014 Listen To Your Mother Show:

The Joy of Pregnancy

“You must be thrilled!”

“Are you soo excited!?”

“I am so happy for you!”

Friends, co-workers, and strangers wearing nothing more than a towel in the gym locker room alike were efferversent in their enthusiasm over the impending arrival of my firstborn.

I would nod and smile to indicate, yes, I am just as excited as you think I am supposed to be. And what was not to be happy about?  It’s not like we hadn’t planned it. We- ok, I- had been planning it since about our fifth date, at which point I felt compelled to tell my husband

“If this gets serious, we would need to raise our children Jewish. I hope that’s not a deal breaker.” I felt we had a real connection and I had no time to waste! I was 29 and not getting any younger.

He was a fifth generation Coloradan, a WASP who had never known a Jewish person in his life.

A year later, we were engaged. My diamond ring glinted in the afternoon sun, as we took a walk on one of the first warm-ish days of spring. We were discussing the details of our wedding- ok, I was- Dan was patiently listening- when the conversation veered from the wedding to marriage itself.

“You want kids, right?” he asked.

I liked the idea of a family in the abstract. But now that the details were coming into sharper focus – Dan would be the father, and we would live in a small-ish house (the only kind we could afford in Boulder)- I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be a mother.

I liked our long Saturday bike rides, our lazy Sundays, eating cereal for dinner if I felt like it. Kids- the ones Dan had agreed to raise Jewish- would change all that. Dan made it clear that that my not wanting kids would be a deal breaker.

So I called my trusted advisors with my burning question: How does one determine whether to have kids?

My sister said of course I didn’t know if I wanted kids- at this point I was still living alone in a one-bedroom apartment. She said that surely once Dan and I moved in together it would be easier to imagine having kids with him. My sister, however, had no children herself.

My best friend assured me that the love you feel for your child is like the love you feel for your husband in the honeymoon stage of your relationship, times ten. My best friend also suffered excruciating pain with breastfeeding, post-partum depression, and the end of her marriage, by the time her son was two years old.

My mother seemed not to even understand the question.

“How can you not know? I always knew I wanted children.” I was envious of my mom’s certainty about her life’s path but her input only made me more confused.

Shortly, I received a call from my dad. “I hear you have some reservations, about having kids. Don’t be scared, honey.” I know he meant well, but I questioned his credibility. See, it was the mothers, not the fathers, who had me terrified of parenthood.

It was 2009 and mommy bloggers were making headlines. Intrigued, I added a few mom blogs to my Bookmarks. My voyeuristic curiosity quickly morphed into borderline addiction. Like a blog reading zombie, I mindlessly clicked on one horrific tale after another. I read about a toddler who vandalized the brand new stainless steel appliances with a Sharpie, a mom’s confession that one of her kids annoyed her, countless burnt out moms’ fantasies of going to the supermarket alone, and perhaps most terrifying of all, the fear of failure as a mother that permeated nearly every single blog post.

Mommy blogs were more compelling than any Stephen King novel, and every bit as scary.

We discovered I was pregnant at a bed and breakfast in California where Dan and I marked our one-year anniversary. Over dinner, we toasted to our good fortune- he with a craft beer, I with an overpriced mocktail.

At the restaurant, I cried. Twice.

I worried that the beginning of this pregnancy marked the end of us. Or worse, the end of me. Upon the appearance of the blue positive sign, I felt joy and relief, tinged with despair. I remember tossing the test in the trashcan, lacing up my running shoes and thinking “There goes breaking 47 minutes in the 10k this summer.” What other goals would I have to put on hold to accommodate this new life?

Normally a sound sleeper, I struggled with nightmares and insomnia throughout my pregnancy. When my daughter was finally born, I held her body, slick with mucous, in my arms, and fell in love.

That first week, I watched, in awe, as she fell fast asleep on my husband’s chest. My sister had been right- Just because I couldn’t imagine us as a family didn’t mean that we weren’t meant to be a family.

Eventually, I got back to running, at first just two or three miles. After those 30 minute jaunts, I’d return home, already missing my baby. My best friend was right. You love your baby with an unimaginable ferocity.

I remember nursing my daughter when she was just a few days old, while my mom sat by my bed. From her chair she offered nursing tips and kept me company. I asked her, “Did you- do you- love me  as much as I love her?”

My mom looked at me with a knowing smile and said, “What do you think?” I realize now, that if she ever had doubts about becoming a mother, they were long forgotten, three children and three grandchildren later.

So now, I find myself exclaiming joyously over other women’s pregnancies- particularly first pregnancies- with the same enthusiasm that, when directed at me, evoked anxiety and dread just two years ago. And while I can’t speak for everyone else- not my friends, not my co-workers, and certainly not the half dressed strangers in the gym locker room- When I see a pregnant woman, I feel like the universe is about to share an incredible, amazing secret with her. The sight of a pregnant woman conjures my joyful recollection of meeting my baby for the first time, the pride of creating a family with the man I love, and of course, the ecstasy that comes with being able to go over an hour without having to pee.

A Baby on the Way in Boulder

Having a baby is a lot of work, even the second time around. There are months of planning, prepping, getting all the last minute tasks on your to do list crossed off, and then you somehow pull it off and you don’t know how you did it but it turns out to be amazing and beautiful and even better than you imagined.

Yep, it’s that time of year. Joelle and I are co-producing Boulder’s Listen To Your Mother Show. It’s getting real now. We’ve put a call out for auditions and for the next few months this show is our baby. This is what I’m talking about, people…

B:W bowing cropped

Boulder Listen To Your Mother Show 2013, Dairy Center for the Arts. Our awesome cast taking a bow

And you thought I was talking about this….

24 wks Jan 2014

My mantra: I will not go into labor on stage.

What I’m talking about is a Mother’s Day event that celebrates the joy, the pain, and the beauty of motherhood. Listen To Your Mother features live readings by local bloggers, writers, and plain old regular people, sharing their true stories about motherhood. It began in Madison, Wisconsin in 2010, when the creator, Ann Imig, decided that the stories of motherhood being shared online needed to be shared in person, with the communities where they were taking place. From there, a national storytelling phenomenon was born. In 2014, Listen To Your Mother will be in 32 cities across the United States.

I know it’s hard to think about Mother’s Day when half the US is covered in ice. But Boulder needs you to come out from under your layers of Patagucci and audition this month!

Think you don’t have a story to tell? Read this.

Think you have to be a mom to be part of the action? Totes false! Watch this:

 Screen shot 2014-02-05 at 11.19.12 AM

Think you shouldn’t audition because you’re not a blogger? Three quarters of our cast last year did not have a blog.

Think you shouldn’t tell your story because you’re scared to tell it? Then that’s probably the story you need to tell. Watch this:

Screen shot 2014-02-05 at 11.19.48 AM

For details about auditions, visit our website.

Boulder, you need to do this. Mother’s Day and warm spring breezes will be here before you know it. I keep telling myself that anyway as I struggle to bend down over my ever-expanding belly to get my Ugg boots on… winter does not last forever and neither does pregnancy. The baby will be here before you know it.

Year in Review: 2013

January: Spend a week in Kona with Dan and Sweet Pea. Pack all three of us in one suitcase. Do not bother to brag about this on Facebook but probably should. Highlights of trip include scoring a free empty seat for Sweet Pea on the flight out, hiking down Pololo Valley, eating at Sushi Rock, unplugging (mostly) for an entire week, dinner at Brown’s Beach House, and the nice lady from Aloha Nannies.

February: Celebrate Sweet Pea’s first birthday. All grandparents, one aunt and one uncle and about 40 friends are present to celebrate. Feel this is the last time we will attempt to feed 40 people without hiring a caterer.

March: Sweet Pea starts to walk. Currently feeling a bit brain dead re: this being only distinct memory from March.  Must resign self to having become what I used to loathe; type of woman who, when asked what is new, gives an update on her offspring.

April: Can’t remember anything noteworthy from April. Must also resign self to having become type of woman who blames poor memory and general mental dullness on motherhood.

May: Boulder’s Listen To Your Mother Show a smashing success. Feel proud to have co-produced this amazing event.  Get a mani/pedi with my mother the day before the show; also momentous. PR in ten mile distance albeit unofficially due to failure to read any of about a dozen emails stating packet pickup would not be on race morning. (See above, re: general mental dullness)

June: Attempt family camping trip and fail; end up at a motel. Travel to Rhode Island for fabulous long visit. Stay at parents’ beach house almost entire time without luxuries of wi-fi or tv which is actually a luxury all on it’s own. Freak out about weaning but do it anyway. Turns out to be not as big of a deal as anticipated. (See also: everything else I’ve ever stressed about).

July: Traveled to Chicago for BlogHer conference without Sweet Pea or breast pump. Newfound freedom reminiscent of being 17 and going away to college only without the awkwardness and insecurity re: being an adolescent.

August: Attempt family camping trip and achieve success. Get first period ever since before getting pregnant with Sweet Pea.  Feel simultaneously relieved and slightly annoyed. Am again reminded of adolescence except am now fully comfortable using tampons.

September: Mark date of likely arrival of period in planner in secret code. (In case planner is confiscated by fertility spies, obviously). Take pregnancy test on said date which is negative. Feel stupid for having hoped. Take another test three days later, which is faintly positive. Feel faintly excited. Take four more faintly positive tests. Discuss meaning of possibly ambiguous results only with select experts such as sister and certain girlfriends who took a lot of pregnancy tests because promised Dan to keep it on the down low for now.

October: Dress up as Mad Men’s Joan Holloway for Halloween. Feel so sexy with large balloons for tatas and signature gold pen on a necklace but realize am about four years too late at Halloween party where no one except one person spontaneously understands costume. Leave party while other guests still arriving. Want to punch said guests in face for nonchalant attitude re: luxury of sleep schedule not being dictated by a toddler yet acknowledge the decision to procreate had nothing to do with them.

November: Feel human again and realize intense fatigue of previous two months was not result of freaky-energy-sucking ways of evil fetus but rather everyday first trimester fatigue.  Summon energy to make pregnancy Facebook Official.

December: Travel with Sweet Pea to visit sister and her new baby. Sweet Pea is enchanted with newborn. Am relieved to see how much she adores the baby. Am astounded by how long it takes to do nothing and everything with a tiny baby. Am further astounded by how easily and quickly all the hard parts of having an infant evaporated from my brain. Also, attend 10th annual Hannukah bar crawl. Reflect on difference between experience of bar crawl as a single 20-something, getting loaded and trolling for guys, versus current year’s experience as a pregnant married lady drinking mostly water and one Guiness with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Despite personal changes am still known among bar crawl crowd  as The Girl Who Ate the Chicken Wing and to set the record straight, in a bar in Harvard Square in 2007 I did not ask strangers for a random chicken wing; rather I was welcomed- no, urged- to take said chicken wing, which is why I ate it.

2013: From this…..

Char 11 mo in kitchenIMG_2294IMG_2267

To this

Hannukah me and Sweet Peamom sweet pea henry 2013Sweet Pea and doll xmas 2013Me at 17 weeks pregnant with baby #2, December 2013Dan and Sweet Pea Dec 2013