I’m writing this on my flight from Kansas City to Philadelphia. I was supposed to write it last night—last week, even—but I didn’t. I let time slip away because of poor planning and procrastination and probably another p word that I’m not awake enough right now to conjure up.
Today is a big day. It’s the day that the book I’m honored and lucky to be a contributor to is on bookstore shelves. It’s the first time that my name is in a book. It’s the first time I can truly be called an author.
It’s humbling to be in this company. It’s humbling to have my words chosen. It’s still surreal and still unbelievable and still not real, even though I’ve held a copy of the book and I’ve seen my name on the pages.
I wonder if it ever gets old, knowing that your words will live somewhere forever. Somewhere other than an online space in which I buy the domain and determine all content. Something my kids, maybe even grandkids, can someday pull off a shelf and run their fingers over my name on the page before they dive into the beauty that is Listen To Your Mother on the page.
I didn’t know what to expect when I first saw the call for stories for the 2013 Kansas City show. I dug around and watched a few videos and thought perhaps it might be a good opportunity to stretch my writer muscles. Surely I could write about motherhood, couldn’t I? I’ve birthed three babies, I’ve been mothered, I’ve loved mothers, I’ve had issues with mothers. Plenty of fodder there, even without scratching the surface.
When I sat down to write my piece for the 2013 show, it wasn’t so much a process of writing as it was dictating. I simply wrote the words as they poured out. I did it old-school, in an art journal as I sat at a coffee shop, waiting for an appointment to show up.
The same was true of my piece for the 2014 show, the piece that’s featured in Listen To Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now. I’d kicked around a few ideas but didn’t know what would stick until I sat down and started typing. It was almost midnight, deadline day.
It’s not lost on me, this particular day and the serendipity of it all. April 7th. My mother’s birthday. My sister’s birthday. Now my birthday as an author. It’s not lost on me, the landscape of my Listen To Your Mother journey: write and read essay about my estrangement from my mother as a cast member, write and read an essay about my dad and how he mothered AND fathered me as a co-director and cast member, land in a book that releases on mother’s birthday.
It’s the cycle. The beauty and the beast of motherhood, of mothering, of understanding, of nurturing, of fighting, of standing up, of making way, and, most importantly, of looking to those whose experiences are different than yours and learning from them.
When I first joined the Listen To Your Mother family I thought there would never be anything better than watching video after video, closing my eyes and letting those voices wash over me and into my heart, softening and fortifying it in a way nothing else has.
Then I held this book. And it’s not about one being better than the other, because they’re different. But holding the book, savoring and re-reading spots that really resonate with me is a different experience than going on the ride that is a live reading or a video.
They are both beautiful and important, just the like the stories that spill from them. The stories we can’t imagine and the stories that feel like home. Together, forever.