last weekend, i auditioned for the nyc version of the listen to your mother show. it was my first audition ever, for anything, and i had a ball. yes the pits were sweaty and i read my piece a bit too fast, but i'm so very very glad i did it.
the show features a cast of about 15, each reading their own 3-5 minute piece about motherhood, and will be at symphony space on may 4th. i attended last year's show, and fell in love with it. the richness of the voices, the perspectives, and the gamut of emotions shared. i wanted to add my voice to the mix.
my piece didn't make it in this year's show unfortunately, and while yes i'm disappointed, i'm not crushed. i know that they work hard to put together a cohesive show, and that not being chosen doesn't necessarily mean they didn't like it. i love what i wrote, labored over it like nothing i've ever written before, and am very glad for the thought processes it put me through. i know myself better, and feel less ashamed. i don't need as much armor anymore.
it loses something when it's not read aloud, but here it is:
big shoes ...
the day after my grambie died, i woke up feeling shorter. you know that feeling when you go to sit down and the chair turns out to be lower than you expected, and you kind of thump into it awkwardly, landing on one butt cheek and feeling silly and looking sheepishly around to see if anyone noticed? that kind of shorter. i'd lost my foundation.
my grambie and i had a fierce relationship, one of utter devotion and absolutely unconditional love. so strong in fact, that when my husband-to-be and i went to stay with her for a couple of days, he grew unnaturally quiet, and upon questioning, admitted that he'd just realized what he had to live up to.
with 7 kids of her own, 23 grands, and 35 greats, she embraced the role of matriarch with a big heart and her truly undivided attention. her husband died 25 years before she did, but she chose to never remarry, saying it would be a distraction from loving on her family.
big shoes to fill, big shoes.
my own mom, who turns 71 in 17 days, is my current foundation. she too chose to embrace no other career than mom ... i remember feeling so lucky compared to my friends, because my mom was always home. the memories i have of her doing anything at all for her own enjoyment or pleasure are few and far between. she lives to serve. a thankless pool cleaner, an expert air-sick bag slinger, a reluctant but determinedly cheerful camper, a gentle sunday morning breakfast-is-ready-so-i'll-wake-you-up-playing-piano kind of mom. she also single-handedly keeps the local Hallmark store in business ... writing and sending stacks of birthday cards every month.
there are a few cracks starting to show beneath me however ... a missed birthday here, forgotten conversation there, and i can suddenly see the cliff of "motherless" off in the distance, and know that when i do end up falling over it, i will feel so very very short, and so very very lost.
it's not that i consult my mom on my parenting really, we don't have a check-in-daily kind of relationship, but she's My Mom. mine, deliciously and comfortably and Knowing Me, mine. her love is still unconditional, even though i've not followed her footsteps in many ways, and caused her much heartache.
i've inherited her guilt, her easy-cry button, her desire to serve, and that tricky undercurrent of martyr that can suck the joy right out of you sometimes. her voice, her hair, her intrepid globe-trotting with toddlers, her love of a good book ... got it.
living for nothing-but-mom-hood? missed that one, completely missed it. and how guilty do i feel that i need something more? deeply. pervasively. maddeningly. i did mention big shoes, didn't i? i can rationalize, justify, and argue with myself till i'm inside out and backwards, but i can't erase the feeling. it's simply there, resident, in whatever little bullet-proof corner of my heart it's embedded in. i'm less of a mom, because i want more. it drives me nuts.
my boys ... my crazy, creative, loud, sensitive, fart-bombing boys, know me as ... Mom! Their very own "what-did-you-just-call-him? do-your-math-and-handwriting-please did-you-feed-the-cats? no-more-computer-time-today YES-you-have-to-finish-the-rest-of-your-meal! ewww-PLEASE-wind-down-the-window-EVERY-time-you-fart! yes-it's-coat-weather do-NOT-scream-at-your-brother please-put-your-clothes-away OWWWW-i'm-going-to-get-the-vacuum-and-your-Lego-better-be-off-the-floor-when-i-get-back!" ... Mom.
they also know me as a graphic designer, a photographer, a blogger, a builder and mender and carpenter and (ahem) facebook addict. they know i need time ALONE. time to create. time to read. time to connect with my own friends.
i am me, i am mom, i am wife, i am whole. conflicted, guilty, loving, striving. beating my wings until the feathers fly. creating home and then fleeing it for a night out. broken and so achingly alone, letting the tears out that i've dammed up.
sprawled on my butt on the ground, bedraggled.
staggering back up on my own bare feet.
the shoes kicked off because now,
i am seeing myself in the mirror of their eyes:
loved, forgiven, kissed.
thanked, helped, admired.
asked, honored, answered.
lost - without my foundation
found - in their unconditional love
freed - to be whole
one small request: if you know my mom personally, please don't share this with her. i wish i could, but i can't. just love on her, thanks :).