I needed yesterday.
A year ago, I wrote about all that participating in Listen to Your Mother meant to me — the incredible energy, the writing boost, and more than anything, the support. I ended my reflections with a look back, and ahead:
I wondered at the beginning of this why none of the previous cast members had returned to read in subsequent shows. And now I know: because it was like catching lightning in a bottle. I don’t think I’d want to do this again with a different group of people, amazing as they might be. So I don’t have to top this experience. I just have to savor it — and cheer on next year’s cast, from the audience.
Yesterday, I got to do just that. After my regular Sunday morning of running around doing errands, juggling baby and toddler, emptying the dishwasher and giving piles of laundry the side eye, I took a shower, did my hair — and makeup, complete with lip gloss — put on a decidedly pumping un-friendly dress and baby un-friendly dangly earrings, gave everyone a kiss goodbye, and headed out the door.
I even had heels in my purse. Yes, I was still wearing flip-flops, but I was carrying heels. In a purse. Not a pumping bag. Not a diaper bag. An impractical purse that held only a wallet, some makeup, and said heels.
If you’ve read my last few posts, you’ve probably gathered that this is not a sequence that’s happened all that often of late. Or, you know, at all. (Work doesn’t count, and not only because my work wardrobe these days is composed solely of pumping-convenient cardigans and skirts, and my oh-so-fashionable tote is the ubiquitous Medela pump bag. Fashion plate, I am not.)
I got to the theater early, with time enough to sit outside, by myself, and bask in the gorgeous May sunshine. I greeted my fellow cast members from last year with happy hugs, and we reminisced about these jittery, excited pre-show moments a year earlier. We waited in line to enter the auditorium, full of anticipation for the stories whose material was unfamiliar, but whose emotion we knew would likely move us to laughs and tears, snorts and sniffles.
True to expectations, this year’s cast took us on a roller coaster of emotions. As I wiped away tears — from sadness or laughter, I couldn’t say, now — I thought to myself, “this is what I needed.” Not just a day of playing dress up with my friends, but a space where crying wasn’t just acceptable, but encouraged. The baker’s dozen of stories were a catharsis for the last six months of all baby, almost all the time, and the last two of too much to do on not enough sleep. I needed a good cry, and I got it.
By the time the house lights came up, though, I was grinning – so happy for this year’s cast, and even happier to be surrounded by friends who I described last year as providing “perspective, new inspiration for writing, tons of new blogs to follow, lessons from moms who have been-there-done-that, a new cheering squad, sources of deep belly laughs, and enablers of my chocolate habit.”
After the final applause, we ran across the street to the after party to cram months of catching up into a single hour. When my one glass of wine was empty, I had lots more stories to hear and — let’s be honest, even more to tell — but it was time to go back to real life, sans heels and jewelry impractical for carrying around small people so close to my ears.
I needed those few hours away, which also made it possible to see the big smiles when I walked in the door, and gave me the resolve to handle the end-of-the-day cries (theirs, not mine, this time) that came not long after.
Those smiles and cries are the foundation of more stories. There will be more time for storytelling, soon.
Listen to Your Mother 2015 is over in DC, but there will be shows in 21 more cities later this week! Do you have your tickets?