On Sunday I walked onto the stage in front of a packed crowd at the 104-year-old Athenaeum Theatre as part of Chicago's Listen to Your Mother and read my words. I started off a little shaky, yet as I spoke I became comfortable under the hot lights and absorbed the energy of the audience and realized I was enjoying my few minutes behind the microphone and the laughter that was happening.
Although I was told it would happen, I was still surprised by all the kind people that came up to me to tell me about their own experiences and how they could relate to my seemingly simple story.
It also meant so much to have my family and friends there in the audience. Listen to Your Mother is special and unique and, regardless of me being the one on the stage, I wanted to share the love, understanding and support of the experience with those close to me. Motherhood is hard, funny, beautiful, stressful and sad and I really appreciate how well the show illustrates those moments.
The next day I was back to reality stuck in after-school traffic listening to the LTYM Mix CD that was playing in the theatre before the show started. All of a sudden I realized I was singing (and crying) to Kelly Clarkson's Stronger. Strength was the theme of this year's show and it all clicked for me.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, stronger
Just me, myself and I
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone"
At that moment it made sense. On Sunday there was no judgment, gossip or criticism. Even though I stood alone on that stage, I didn't feel lonely. I felt my cast mates' squeeze before I walked out from the curtain and even though I couldn't see the audience, I could visualize their smiles and heads nodding in agreement. I felt the brave women (and man) sharing their truths, encouraging and rooting for each other. We laughed a lot together, but we also held each other up when we didn't think we could go forward.
The experience for me was a welcome reminder, we are never too old, sick or busy to try something new and go outside of our comfort zone. It doesn't have to be scary, it actually can be fun and eye opening.
As I was dancing in my car, tears streaming down my face and nodding in agreement to my sudden understanding of the beauty of Listen to Your Mother, my son quickly snaps me back to the present:
"Mom, can you please turn the music down, close the windows and not get out of the car? You are wearing socks with sandals. Bye, I love you!"
You may also enjoy reading: Excited to be a part of Listen to your Mother 2016, About our first rehearsal and Mother's Day gifts were really want.
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