A couple years ago, I decided to audition for the very first Listen to Your Mother show in Baltimore. I wrote an essay to read. I thought it sucked and I wrote a new one. I edited it within an inch of its life. I rehearsed reading it so I wouldn’t sound like a damn fool. Then I went to my audition and, even though I forget how breathing works when I try to speak publicly, I felt pretty awesome about it. There are a lot of reasons in life for me to not have much confidence. I have forgotten those reasons and tend to think I’m amazing and can do all the things. Typical Millennial, amiright?
Then I found out I didn’t get it, and I was crushed. I wanted this so bad. I took it as harsh as a breakup with a boyfriend. No exaggeration there; I unfollowed the show on social media because I was too bummed to see who did get it. I’m kind of self-absorbed. Typical Millennial, I know.
The following year, I was pregnant. As. Hell. And with Halligan’s due date pretty close to Mother’s Day, when these shows tend to take place, I didn’t want to audition and possibly not be able to perform. But I kept it in my back pocket.
This year, I thought about LTYM, out of the blue, and checked online for information about this year’s show. Auditions were just weeks away! I scheduled mine, and was so happy to get a response from one of the producers, saying that she remembered me from my first audition and liked my piece. Of course she did! I’m amazing! Such a snowflake! Such a Millennial.
I sat down to write something new. I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes I thought I made with my first piece. This was going to be the piece. I was going to wow the producers, nail this audition to the wall, and walk out of there knowing I would be reading my piece on stage in a couple months.
But every time I tried to write what I thought I wanted to write, it went in a different direction, or it wasn’t a complete story. I had one fully-formed piece that I edited for hours. Actual hours. I read and reread and rewrote that piece a frillion times. I wasn’t completely happy with it, and it definitely wasn’t what I set out to write, but it’s what I needed to write, I think. And nothing else I was writing was complete. So this was my piece.
I barely slept the week of my audition while I was still making edits and practicing. I was a ball of nerves the morning of. Where was all my Millennial super-confidence? I did all the things I only do when I’m nervous. I dressed like a goober after changing my outfit a bunch of times. I wore too much makeup. I did my hair in a weird way that I never wear it. I arrived at my audition and was immediately really happy to see a bowl of chocolates left out in the hallway for those who were waiting, only to have that happiness squashed by the sudden realization that I was going to throw up anything I tried to eat. So I sat down and lip-synced my words.
When it was my turn to go in, I got the shakes. I greeted everyone I was auditioning in front of and hoped they didn’t see how bad I was sweating. Behind the podium, I held on for dear life, and read through my piece with a voice that shook like I was driving over boulders. That whole breathing thing? It left my brain completely. I finished, I thanked the women I read to, and I grabbed a couple pieces of chocolate on my way to my car. I had no idea how I did. But at least I was done and wouldn’t be up all night editing anymore?
At home, I received an email from one of the producers, Taya, saying that I made the cast. I screamed. I. Did. It. She asked if I would read from my first piece that I auditioned with two years ago. Part of me sunk, because I worked my butt off on this piece. But the reason I had to work so hard on it was that it needed work. They were words that I needed to get out, but they weren’t words that I needed to read for this show. Not that my first piece was profound or needs to be read. But it’s so much better for the show this year. And it’s much more my voice.
And I truly realized that this weekend, when I sat down with the other women in my cast for the first time. We chatted in the beginning and got to know each other in small talk ways. We ate pizza and cracked jokes. Then we all read our stories. I don’t want to give anything away or spoil any aspect of this show, so all I can say is that I was so moved and touched by all of these women and the stories they have to tell. Every single one is profound and meaningful and the kind of story that can only exist because of mothers and women. I’m so, so beyond honored to get to be a part of this, and I’m so thankful that I was chosen this year.
If you’re in the Baltimore area on April 23, I strongly encourage you to come out and see this show and hear these stories. At the absolute least, watch them when they go live on YouTube. I don’t get mushy or very serious on here too often, but this experience already feels life changing. I can’t wait for the rest of this journey.