It’s been almost 3 months since I stepped foot on stage to share my story of motherhood for the incredible Listen To Your Mother show.
It’s been such an amazing journey. I’ve met so many wonderful people, forged friendships, and found confidence in myself that I had been seeking.
Most importantly – I’ve learned that you have to #dothething.
Whatever that means to you. Apply for your dream job. Start a nonprofit. Audition for LTYM. Whatever it means… go do it. Dream big. Put yourself out there. Live the life you deserve to live.
Go and #dothething.
Several years ago, I found myself knee deep in motherhood, a bit lost, and trying to find myself. I regularly read blogs, two specifically were that of Stephanie Precourt and Lovelyn Palm. I read about a show they were involved in called LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER and I was intrigued. I felt a rush of energy – THIS is what I’ve been searching for!
There was no show here in Michigan, so I signed up to audition in Indiana. And then I freaked out. I didn’t go. Instead, I read the blogs and watched the videos and saw other people do this big scary thing. An email came out saying they were searching for people to take on new cities. THIS was what I was waiting for! I was going to submit my hometown of Detroit and try and start a show. Same story, different day. I freaked out. I never sent the email. Someone else did, and they got the show.
I cried. A lot.
The strong, confident me had disappeared somewhere and I didn’t know how to find her again.
I thought about auditioning for that first LTYM Metro Detroit show, I even followed the audition call out, but baby #4 was only a month old and my postpartum anxiety was real. I couldn’t bring myself to follow through.
Over that next year, I found a bit of my voice and started my business. It was five years in the making, and finally taking that leap allowed me a sense of confidence I had long been missing. I signed up for email updates for the next round of LTYM auditions.
The time came, I got the email, I headed to the site to register… and it was booked. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me again!
This year I was determined. I pretty much stalked the LTYM site for months, just waiting for the audition announcement. I registered right away.
Here was my chance! But in true Jenny fashion, on the day of my audition, I hadn’t finished writing my piece. So I wrote… and I wrote fast. What I came up with wasn’t at all what I had intended to write about. I had envisioned myself standing on that stage, sharing a deep, heartfelt, meaningful story of motherhood. Maybe I’d touch on the struggles of becoming a mom at 21, and the societal judgement that came along with not being married when she was born. Maybe I’d write about parenting a sick child, the ups and downs of his first year of life, the struggles to find him help, how being his mother has taught me about patience and acceptance and fighting for your child and feeling pure unbridled joy. Maybe I’d write about my struggles with breastfeeding, and what it took to go from a traumatic birth experience to our healing births of our youngest two. Maybe I’d talk about how waiting the years between our 2nd and 3rd babies changed me as a mom, and how that new baby changed me as a woman. Maybe I’d share how it feels to parent girls when I only had brothers growing up, and all the things I don’t know how to deal with like makeup and sisters and sharing clothes. Maybe I’d talk about my relationship with my mom, and how that has grown and changed since my father stepped out of the picture. All I knew was that I had something really deep and meaningful to say.
What I wrote didn’t feel very deep or meaningful.
But I wrote it.
And I waited.
Then it happened. I got an email saying YOU’RE IN!
They picked me.
THEY PICKED ME.
They picked… ME.
Still baffled, people. Still surprised. That feeling of setting a goal, following through, and reaching it? Holy geez, what a feeling.
This was the boost I needed.
I spent my childhood and my teen years in two places – on the softball diamond and on the stage. These two places feel like home to me more than anywhere else.
It’s been 8.5 years since I’ve stepped foot on a stage.
Getting a chance to do it again? I have struggled to find the words to explain how I felt.
My littlest was just 4 months old when I was picked to join the 2016 cast, which made the logistics of my involvement a bit tricky. Everyone was so great and so kind. At our first rehearsal, when it was time to take my headshot, I handed my girl over to a woman I had just met. But that didn’t feel odd to me. I already felt like we had all been friends for a long time.
The day of the show was magical.
I took several moments to soak it all in. To be sitting in the green room of The Shelter. To be standing on the stage of Saint Andrew’s Hall. The history is rich here, and I felt it. I felt all of it. The energy. The lights. The words. The moments.
Being surrounded by so many strong, amazing women sharing their stories was inspiring. Sharing the stage with them was such an honor. Being part of this entire movement was a privilege.
Something awakened in me during this experience. The confidence that I had in myself returned. The fire inside me to do big amazing things and to chase my craziest dreams was lit again. I felt passionate, excited, and truly alive in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
You know that feeling you get when you KNOW you are doing exactly what you should be doing and you are exactly where you should be in that very moment?
That was my LTYM experience. Being exactly where I was meant to be.
I wish they’d let me do this show every single year. Or really… every single day! I want more!
I’m using this experience as the fuel to get in touch with my dreams and my passions again. To allow myself to feel exhilarated. To feel connected to my soul. To feel strong and powerful. To feel connections to other people. To be myself, completely and unapologetically, as I am.
Since LTYM ended, I’ve found myself dreaming more. I’ve felt more connected to my husband and my kids. I’ve been more present in my every day. I’ve brainstormed and planned and allowed myself to dig deeper. This experience has become the catalyst for a new phase in my life. One more in tune with my soul, with my passions, with my dreams, with my kids.
Standing on that stage, feeling the connection of motherhood and of storytelling, feeling the lights, hearing the laughter… this was the beginning for me. I feel confident. I’m no longer afraid. I’m ready to take action.
Thank you to my mom and brothers for supporting me, being ridiculously excited about the show, and loving me through all of it. Thank you to my dear friend Rachel and her sweet daughter who drove from Ohio just to see me. Your friendship means so much to me. Thank you to my sister-in-law for keeping ⅗ of the kidlets and allowing me to not worry about them as I took the stage. Thank you to Stephanie for sharing LTYM with me all those years ago. Thank you to The Angelas for choosing me and believing in me. Thank you to the amazing women that I shared the stage with – I am honored to have walked this journey with you. Thank you for inspiring me with your words and your hearts. Thank you to my husband, who supported me when I rambled on about this show about motherhood that I so desperately wanted to audition for, who took care of our kids during rehearsals, who cheered me on and believed in me, who gave me the confidence I needed to follow through. You + me, baby, thank you. To TBGIL, the fab five, my motivation, my heartbeat – thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your mother. I said it that day on stage and I’ll say it every day of my life – I am blessed to be a part of your lives. So very blessed.
And to all those who have walked on the LTYM stage in the past, and to those who will in the future – we are part of something special. Be brave. Share your stories. Feel confident and strong. Do whatever it is your heart is calling you to do.
Oh, and that piece I wrote? It was deep and meaningful after all. It was the perfect representation of my motherhood journey, and where I’m at in my life right this minute. Writing this story gave me a new perspective, it gave me a sense of pride in my amazing kids, and the feedback I received after the show made it clear this story was something that resonated with many people. It was exactly what people needed to hear, and it was exactly what I needed to write.
I’m going to ride this LTYM wave for as long as I can. It has become the fuel I needed to light the fire within my soul. Big things are coming. I’m taking action.