When asked if I would consider being part of the team to bring Listen To Your Mother back to the stage in the Kansas City area, I said "yes" when I had no idea what that "yes" would entail. My own experience when I was in the cast, however, was so life changing that to not consider doing that for other storytellers seemed selfish.
A hundred times in the months leading up to the show I said to myself, "Oh, honey, you are in so over your head." Every Friday on my day off I cold-called businesses, pitched the show and practically begged them to consider sponsoring. I heard "no" so much that after a couple of hours of that weekly rejection I would hold my head in my hands and think "how in the hell are we going to pull this off." I made in person cold calls and follow-ups that didn't go much better, but I asked them to at least consider going to the show to see for themselves how wonderful it is. A couple of months later when the posters were done I called on them again saying, "Here you go. Here's everything you and your customers need to know about this show."
When it was time to get those posters and then programs done I thought that there was no way I could deal with graphic designers and a printing company without looking like an idiot. Sometimes that was exactly how I looked because even now I have no idea what a pixel is. They didn't hold it against me and instead walked me through what they needed so both of us were satisfied with the end result.
Through it all I had a partner in Greta - someone I barely knew when we started. It was a blind date that quickly turned the corner into an engagement. We bounced ideas off of each other. She would prop me up through my weekly sponsor rejection. When the graphic designer emailed with a question or problem, Greta would jump in and take care of things if I wasn't able to respond right away. Most importantly, it seemed when one of us was feeling the stress the other would instinctively know and help carry the load.
We also had a national team behind us that was phenomenal. If you had a question there was an answer within minutes. If you felt like things were going south there was a phone call. If you wondered how teams in other cities did things you need only ask the Facebook group and you would have a dozen people weighing in with their thoughts and unending cheerleading.
We went into this without any idea of the kinds of stories that would show up when we put out the casting call. Nobody told us how hard it would be to decide what pieces would be in the show. We heard so many good stories that we easily could have doubled the size of our show. Ultimately, we put together a cast that would spend nearly two hours taking the audience through the hills and valleys of motherhood in the most spectacular way.
It would be impossible not to love this cast. They are funny, gregarious, soulful, complicated, smart, wise. They are kind.......the sort of kindness and gentleness that catches in my throat whenever I think of them. They laughed at the funny stories and cried with the sad and tough ones every single time. They are everything you could ever need or want in a girlfriend. When they came back onto the stage at the end and the whole place erupted in cheers and a standing ovation, I was so proud of them.
After the show when we were having dinner, my son asked, "So what did you learn from all of this?"
I learned that I am capable of doing far more than I give myself credit for.
I learned that all of us feel connected by the stories we hear and share.
I learned that being part of being something bigger is an honor.
I learned that, like motherhood, providing the means for someone else to shine might be the most satisfying thing I have ever done.
I learned that I love to keep learning.