I’ve auditioned for Listen To Your Mother twice. In 2015 I wrote a piece I worked on for daaaayyyys. I edited it, I asked for feedback, I read it on camera to myself to hear what it sounded like. I didn’t get chosen for that show. It sucked. Not the piece, I still think it’s good. It sucked not to be picked. This year auditions came back up again and I got myself on the list quickly…then promptly forgot about it. I wrote my audition piece in the 48 hours before I met The Angelas in a coffee shop in downtown Detroit and mostly winged the whole deal. I’ll let you take an educated guess on which piece and which experience was absolutely more “Alicia”. I’m that girl- the one who plans a lot at first and overthinks and gets all jazzed…and then forgets about it for awhile only to pick it up later in the exact same excitement as I left it.
I tried to act nonchalant about the whole “being chosen” thing, but really all I wanted was to be entirely in to every event, every conversation, every piece of the experience I could possibly get my hands on. So that’s what I did. I lived all of it. I went to Busted Bra Shop on a Tuesday night, I spent a Saturday afternoon getting my perspective rightly adjusted at Cass Community Social Services, I made friends at rehearsals and chatted with them on email and Facebook between events. I embraced the whole thing, I took in the experience and I got excited about each moment I was in.
Fast forward to May 1st, show day and I wasn’t at all nervous. I had the best safety net in the form of strong, creative, humble and inspiring women. Each of them so willing to be human, to be vulnerable and brave and uplifting. I didn’t have to feel scared, we belonged there and we knew it. I felt inspired, shit I felt inspiring myself! There was a moment waiting in the wings of the stage at St. Andrews Hall where I remember thinking to myself, “Whoa, this is really happening. It’s right now.” Cause you know how you get all hyped up about something coming up and then it comes up and you kind of miss it cause you’re waiting for it to feel like that thing you’ve been thinking about only you’re missing the fact that it’s happening right now? So I took no pictures, except the ones in my head. I stayed right there and felt everything. And none of that was fear, and none of that was anxiety, or nerves, or inadequacy. It was completely awesome, basically. And I kicked ass. And I had fun. And I got real, genuine laughs out of the crowd, even.
My advice? Do the thing.
Do it and be fully in it and feel it all. It will change you. Maybe not immediately, maybe not a lot. But having followed the entire experience all the way through, you will gather pieces and parts from each pause in the journey. Some of those things you may not uncover until years later, stored neatly away for the right time to really need them. Trust that giving over to the exposure will not leave you bare. Trust that each feeling you have is genuine, but may not linger. Before you stop yourself, start.
Listen To Your Mother, Metro Detroit 2016
Letter To My Tween Daughter
I swear, if I hear one more sentence starting with the word “But” in a snooty tone, chin stuck out, eyes rolled up, hand displayed in a distinct gesture of yet-unfounded courage…I might just lose it. I will deny it to my core, but I was once very much like you. I don’t think all those ancient years ago they had a fancy descriptor like “tween”, but in those precious ages between single digits and the teenage years I do recall being quite…precocious? (That’s a term people use to be nice about saying I was a sassy smart ass with an over inflated sense of self.)
I argued, a lot.
I stomped off. I rolled my eyes. I scoffed. I complained loudly to myself in the hopes that others would bend to my will without me having to participate at all in the confrontation. I spent a good bulk of my time with my arms defiantly crossed in front of my body. This defiance may be a biological trait, perfected by each subsequent generation. Because you’ve got it down.
And real talk? I don’t actually know what I’m supposed to do there. There’s no handbook, no series of emotional depth classes you have to navigate before they let you bring your tween home. No one gives you a test and a license for raising a real whole person, when you may not actually be a real whole person yourself. I often feel out of my depth with you. I rarely feel prepared to properly handle the heightened emotional situations you bring to my place at the table. I didn’t know that I’d let you down while thinking I was protecting you when Blake died. I have to admit, sometimes I don’t even know what protecting you looks like anymore. It used to be easy: “don’t stick the thing in the socket”, and “no you cannot eat the peanut butter before your first birthday”, and “I’ll hold your wrist across this road if I have to sohelpme…”
You’re growing up, and sometimes I think I’ve stopped. Because you see I think adults, at a certain point, just grow older.
Parents are programmed to put so much mental and emotional effort into the first years, the formative ones. Afraid that every choice will have a lasting impact on the impending doom of when our little precious snowflakes grow up and away from us. We spend so much time consumed with bottle vs breast, vaccines or no, attachment parent, Moby or Tula, is it too early for my child to experience the joy of honey. HONEY, YOU GUYS. I blush with embarrassment remembering all those moments lost on whether my baby will suffer from botulism…and all the subsequent moments spent googling “what is botulism?”
The truth is, very few of the actual things I worried over even matter now that you, my daughter, are 10. Do you know what matters now? Our open lines of communication that let you freely bring me your stress over your friend being rude to you. The fact that I modeled the behaviour of “you can always tell me when you don’t agree”. And the fact that I love and take care of my body. Bella, you were once tasked with writing a reflective paragraph for class. You chose the phrase: “ways my mom and dad are equal”. And far beyond any trophy or perfect grade you’ll ever bring home, that my dear, made me swell with pride. It has nothing to do with whether you were formula fed from your moment of birth, or whether I co-slept with you out of sheer and utter laziness. You chose for yourself to understand a thing that I did not explicitly teach.
The fact is: you were always bound to grow up. Whichever choices I made, Bella, you were always going to get to the part where my choices for you came second to your own choices for you. And that happens without warning. With no preparation, you have to straddle the line between “little kid” and “teenager”, without the safety net of being just typically either of those. I am not prepped for this either, as it turns out. The title of Parent is always on top, but I naively didn’t address when the job description changed. I got to your 10th birthday, a decade into parenting, and realized I’m still kind of crappy at it. But, while you navigate you, and learn who you are…please know that I see you. I see you, Isabella. And I apologize that I’m stumbling along beside you still discovering and navigating me too. But I am so proud of all you’ve become all on your own. Can you just…I don’t know, keep your seatbelt fastened or something, cause I still feel like I’m making some of the rules around here.