This past weekend I was blessed to be a part of, hands down, the most empowering experience of my adult life. Listen to Your Mother auditions were this weekend… I don’t know that I nailed it, or even did well at all, but I do know that it meant more to me to just get up there and read my story in front of two of the most amazing womenbloggermoms I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet.
If you know me from college, you may remember the time freshman year I was speaking in my Honors English class. For some inane reason, I thought it was a good idea to pick my favorite poem that made me think of my Dad. I was reading Don’t Grieve For Me Now as my choice- My other favorite is Wasteland, but it’s SO long, I knew I would lose the class after line 3… I began speaking from the page in front of me, looked up, smiled, held up my index finger to signal them to wait, walked away from the podium to the glass door, picking up the wastebasket on my way out. I closed the door behind me and proceeded to vomit into the small plastic bin (thank God for trashcan liners). I pulled the bag shut, tying a knot, walked back into my classroom (where everyone looked like they had just witnessed a war), and finished reading. Complete with tears.
Suffice it to say: I am not so great at public speaking. With all the CPL (if you know what that stands for, you’ve been reading for a while) stuff going around, and news cameras and writing more frequently, I’ve become more comfortable in social situations where I don’t know many people, or anyone at all. I think my newer confidence may also have something to do with becoming a mother. It just makes one less inhibited and more able to speak up! In my 38 weeks of pregnancy and 36+ hours of labor, I had more people check out my body than one weekend in Virginia Beach in my late teens… and I looked GOOD then! Once you’ve shown it all, birthed life from your loins and actually want to do it again, I guess something inside mama says what’s next? and you better have something to offer that inner voice, before it gets too quiet. So, I let my voice rise and shouted from the roof of my mind! I wanted to share my story about learning of Addie’s dwarfism. I wanted to show people the softer side of me- the darkest moments of becoming a new mother, when your baby is in a hospital bed and there is nothing you can do… as well as the brightest moments, when your infant somehow offers you more comfort than you to her. And so, I shared an edited version of the first post on this blog called A is For Adelaide and Achondroplasia. Here is a little bit about the audition:
As I laid Addie down for her nap just moments before I had to leave for the Providence Library, I felt my stomach turn. No time to puke… I ran out the door and into the first car in the driveway- Dave’s Forrester. I pulled out into the road and was on my way. Holy crap, was all I could think.
I parked the car close to the library and put just 2 quarters in- a decision I regret- and walked into the grand building (where just weeks before I witnessed my friend, Tim, propose to his fiancée on just that corner where they shared their first kiss!!! SO ROMANTIC. And I digress). As I took the elevator to the third floor, I was repeating the mantra breathe to myself. I took the clipboard, as was noted on the sign outside the audition room, and filled out the requested information. After wringing my piece in my hands, Carla and Laura come out to get me.
I had no idea what to expect, I’d just recently learned about LTYM, and was excited that I was even chosen to read my submitted post from this blog. But their welcoming demeanor, and the fact that there was candy in the room, made it a much lighter experience. Earlier in the day I had gone on my first Team in Training run, and so I was able to resist temptation, but something about candy on the table (Angry Birds gummies?!) makes everything less formal.
I began to read. Somehow, I could not pry my eyes off the page. I was filled with self-doubt and mortified that I was telling these women, verbally confirming what I had written, that I had been scared of Addie’s diagnosis and that I was angry at myself. Then, a surge of pride ran through me- I was telling my story- a story felt by thousands who were afraid of the same things I was, and also too ashamed to share their stories. You might think that children choose their parents, as I do, but that doesn’t make the decision seamless. There are obstacles and hurdles one must maneuver and jump in order to cultivate relationships. These do not end after a certain stage in development, this is life. This is the work it takes to make a marriage flourish and parenthood so rewarding. Things don’t happen to those who do not make them happen for themselves! There is no shame in admitting that sometimes it’s hard to do it all. We ask for help, we shed a tear, we learn to love- everyday.
I tried to pull my eyes up to my audience of two, praying that they would enjoy my piece, choose me to share with my community and to not cry. My eye contact was terrible and the knock on the door threw me for a loop, but I did my best, and I cannot ask myself for more. I did not throw up, quiver, cry or make excuses of why I could not go. I think I did great! I am not a public speaker- yet- but I am just 28… I have at least 100 more years of good living in me.
I regret the 2 quarters because I could not pry myself away from Carla and Laura, and we ended up talking long enough for me to get a $25 ticket! Oops! When I got home, Dave just smiled about it- it’s my first ticket since we bought the house (we used to get them randomly when we lived in the city)- he was so proud of me for completing my goal. When Dave hugged me, I knew I had already been chosen. Whether I read or not in the show, I’d been chosen by this man to be his wife, to mother his child(ren) and to have him stand by my side.