{To enter to win 2014 tickets, just comment here.}

I’ll admit it, becoming a mother less than a year ago has changed me quite a bit. I’ve started noticing other mothers more and admired how they approach parenting. A simple trip to grab some groceries has turned into a learning experience as I observe a frazzled mom in yoga pants patiently explain to a screaming toddler that no, he cannot have more ice cream. Chatting with my mom has become an opportunity to ask questions of what she remembers. Even though there are so many parenting manuals out there (and especially because there are), being a mother and a father is a vocation full of confusion and self doubt. It’s rewarding, loving, beautiful work, but work nonetheless. When I was approached to sponsor Listen To Your Mother – Raleigh/Durham, I knew I had to do it. I hadn’t heard anything quite like it before. Sure I was flattered that they would think I was a good fit. But I felt that it was important to be there. This is the blurb from their website:

The mission of each LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER production is to take the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor.

Here are the photos that I feel  capture the essence of the evening. In addition to the laughter and giggles, there were many tears shed and I have to admit, I had trouble capturing them. On some level, I felt like it was my job to get those on camera. But as I listening to each cast member pour their heart out and become vulnerable, it almost felt like a violation of trust to photograph them in such a fragile place. Not to mention, I’m a crier and my eyes were full of tears. I can thank my own mom for that annoying trait.

Here’s the cast for you, from left to right, top to bottom. I also included a small snippet about what each cast member’s story was about as well a links to their blogs. Liisa Ogburn – Liisa’s mom was right about the guinea pigs. They were a really, bad idea. Cyndi Soter O’Neil – Cyndi feels awful that she never wanted a daughter, but as you can imagine, that changed. Ilina Ewen – Ilina was a self proclaimed “bitch “in her earlier years, while her friends had babies. She has a son now and she “gets” it. She’s also really sorry. Debby Torres – A touching story of how little boys view their mommas. Tissues required. Daniele Berman – To her third born, Daniele is a broken-in mom. Broken-in moms are better and she explains why. Ronnie Bower – After emerging from the depths of postpartum depression, Ronnie realized that despite her doubts, she was all the mom her son ever needed. Jane Albright – Jane’s twins fight on Facebook in this new digital age. Then call her on their cell phones to mediate. It’s hilarious. Erin Lane – Erin comes to term with the c-section birth she never envisioned for herself. KeAnne Hoeg – KeAnne recounts just one morning before daycare with her son. It involves a puddle of pee, a ride in the car, and lots of love. Michele Lynn – Michele thinks her (almost) adult son is just plain fun to hang out with. But she’s having to navigate the letting go phase. Jmeka Cherrell – Jmeka had a far from ideal childhood. She had no idea that her “normals” were simply not. Powerful story, ya’ll. Dawson Roark – The lone male cast member tells us about how his mother showed her love. It involved a drumset. (Secondary take home message, bands never last.) Lindsay Onofrio – Lindsay says she was always mediocre. She claims she still is but is somehow raising some great, great children. Jennifer Weickum – The Potty Paul doll that Jennifer bought to help with toilet training has no penis. Does the doll have a problem or is it her? Marty Long – Marty talks about teaching her son in unexpected ways. The perfect story to end the night.

A huge thank you to KeAnne and Marty for spearheading this event! It was an honor to be there and watch the magic that happens when people share their hearts. You should be able to view each reader’s story on the Listen To Your Mother YouTube Channel soon.

P.S. On a side note…since I received these blog links, I have spent HOURS reading old entries. I’m actually feeling a bit like a stalker. If you’re needing some “keeping it real” reading, you’ve got it all right here. Also, I learned about a great organization in Raleigh doing some important work to prevent child abuse. Learn more about SAFEchild here.