You secretly think you look pretty good in red lipstick.
You wouldn’t mind it if a crowd (whom you couldn’t make eye contact with) clapped hard for you.
You have no where to wear your lipstick.
If you said yes to any or all of these submitting to our show is right up your alley.But honestly, we have had a lot of women share their writing on our stage for the first time. They had never performed before. Ever. Just because this is Los Angeles this does not mean we are all professionals, by any means.
My mom bartends the show.
My mother in law sells tickets.
You can do this. You should do this. You could possibly feel like this…
I hope this pep talk helped. To read about LA past performer JJ Keith’s experience click here.
Or read about NYC performer Heather Cabot’s experience here.
Driving home from the last show of Expressing Motherhood, I listened to “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers on repeat. I’d adopted the song as my unofficial anthem of Expressing Motherhood, despite the fact that Expressing Motherhood has an official anthem.
For weeks I’d been jarred by commercials for that new Clint Eastwood movie, the one that’s about baseball. Whenever it came on, I’d look up, thinking that that I was about to see an ad for something good. But alas, not only am I not a fan of Clint Eastwood, I despise baseball, and, as I am the mother of two toddlers, I rarely go to the movies. That’s three strikes and you’re out, Clint Eastwood Movie Whose Name I Can’t Remember. (That, there, was the most advanced baseball reference I could muster.)
At the first rehearsal for Expressing Motherhood, one of the interstitial songs stopped me. Each time it came on, I’d think, “What is this and how do I get it on my iPod? And why am I thinking about baseball and Clint Eastwood right now?” Clearly, I am a simple creature, easily trained by the most root Pavlovian influences. I eventually put it together that it was the same song in the commercial as in the show and gathered the wherewithal to search for it on iTunes, and then, as is my way, listen to it approximately 246 times on repeat. Gradually, I broke the association with Clint Eastwood. Instead it came to represent the experience of performing in Expressing Motherhood.
“So show me family / All the blood that I would bleed”
Throughout the run of the show it didn’t escape my attention that I was performing an essay about my inability to connect with mothers…in a show in which I shared the stage with a dozen other mothers, all of with whom I now feel genuinely and unreservedly connected. The other performers were kind enough to not call me out on this dick move, which was just one of many acts of graciousness I enjoyed during the run of the show.
“I don’t know where I belong / I don’t know where I went wrong / But I can write a song”
Contrary to what I said on stage, mothers have more than one thing in common. Sure, it doesn’t aways feel like we’re one big, global village, especially in the beginning stages when mothers often cordon themselves into camps according their chosen parenting methodology. The power of Expressing Motherhood is in highlighting the commonality of our experiences. The other women’s pieces were either highly relatable or a window into my future as a mother, the terrifying future in which I’ll have to tell my kids about sex or, oh dear, drop them off at their college dorms.
“I belong with you, you belong with me / You’re my sweetheart”
In anthropological terms, mothering is a liminal space where we are neither the same person before we had kids, nor have we emerged at the other end. I don’t know what marks “the end,” certainly not dropping our kids off at college dorms. That’s a freaking long liminal space to be trapped in! But, as liminal spaces go, motherhood is a rich one, one worth exploring, or, er, expressing.
And thank goodness all us moms belong to one another, that we can craft spaces in which we can deal with the uncertainty of our lot. Because isn’t what all this comes down to is our lack of surety? The excruciating ambiguity of our role as mothers? We don’t have to divide ourselves according to how we discipline our children or whether or not we sleep train as many of us do at the beginning. Instead we can acknowledge the uncertainty and just sit with that until it feels normal.
I was unsure about Expressing Motherhood and what I’d get out of it given that I’m not a performer. But there is worth to standing behind my words, in person, and owning my initial discomfort at having been thrust into a community of mothers just by virtue of having a kid. Now, finally, I accept that I have more in common with other moms than the simple act of mothering. I am certain of few things, but I know this.
But not without AMAZING things being said about it!
“One of the most entertaining poinegnt evenings I’ve had in a long time. The stories made me feel like I’m not alone in my odd world of motherhood.”
– Nicole Sullivan, MADTv, Cougar Town
“I saw this production last night. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me want to share my story too. Thanks, ladies. You are beautiful women and moms.”
– Louise Post, Audience Member
“I LOVED IT. It felt like a delicious gift. Best evening in ages.”
– Gayle Cole, Audience Member
”Please don’t ever stop doing this. I always take away so much from your show. Thank you for putting so much time in to it!”
– Jennifer Lindman Lovold, Audience Member
“I loved this show. I laughed out loud. I openly cried… The women reminded me of everything that I had feared about becoming a mother….I felt it. The camaraderie of motherhood. The camaraderie of women.”
-Tommie Vaughn, TheWallsOfTom.com
Great job ladies. I’m sad to see this run end, but completely satisfied in the content shared and the bonds created. Bravo!
JJ Keith is a Los Angeles based mom of two who will be performing in our upcoming show next month here in LA. She originally posted this on her own blog, it’s about the frustration of trying to write with two young kids.
Death Knells of Double Tall Caramel Macchiato.
Doing anything with two toddlers is like walking in ten feet of snow, barefoot, underwater, in 125 degree heat while it’s hailing. Did I mention uphill? And it’s a really steep hill. So running errands with my three-year-old daughter and my one-and-a-half-year-old son is not my favorite thing to do. Every bump in the sidewalk is a potential calamity and every shop door a terrifying barrier. While out and about I struggle to not accost passers by and demand, “DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THIS IS? STOP LOOKING SO CAREFREE AND RUBBING IT IN MY FACE!”
But because I had no choice I took my kids with me to do a string of errands, all of which were on one street so at least we were able to walk from store to store. After navigating four shops with two kids and one false-alarm-potty-emergency, we schlepped to Starbucks to pick up a double tall caramel macchiato, a treat for me to sip when I put the kids down for their naps and could finally get to my writing. As we entered Starbucks my daughter cut in front of my son’s stroller, blocking me from entering the store. “No coffee. I don’t like coffee,” she asserted. Not content to let the point rest there, she continued in her meandering but utterly charming three-year-old style: “You’re not being nice. It isn’t fair. Swiper no swiping. No coffee. I like coffee cake. We have a coffee table. I hit my head and they you say, ‘oh no’ to me and I say, ‘watch out, there’s a bear!’ I’m a princess and you’re a kingdom and he’s a jaguar. Rwar rwar!”
But I wanted that double tall caramel macchiato so I picked my kid up with one arm and pushed the stroller through the doorway with the other. Once my daughter was placated with promises of chocolate milk and coffee cake, I had a moment in line to scope out the store for writers, a dangerous thing to do if you’re a stay-at-home mother hustling to write every moment her children are sleeping. The problem is that I don’t make enough money writing to pay for childcare and thus don’t have the time to write enough to make the money to pay for childcare. I hate that this is how the world works, but despite the inherent frustrations, I love being a stay-at-home mother, or at least I do when I’m not running errands.
As I waited to order, I set my eyes on a man by the condiment bar working in MS Word. I pinned him as a creative type who had time to waste before getting down to working on his assignments, all of which were surely well-renumerated. I glared at him as my children squirmed and whined, and felt such a flood of envy that if I had been pricked with a pin at that moment I would not have bled, but oozed vitriol. As the man gazed out the window and let his document evaporate into a screensaver, I fantasized about grabbing him by the lapels of his finely hewn natural fiber jacket and demanding the business card of his agent. Or better, just pushing him out of the way and filling his screen with words, good ones, probably better than his. I wanted that man to offer to watch my kids while I wrote something huge and spiraling, something that would hurt to read. Then I wanted him to apologize for taking my job, as if there’s some finite amount of work for writers and everyone who has an assignment screwed me over to get it.
But instead I ordered my double tall caramel macchiato, picked it up from the bar, then set out for my car with the kids in tow. The whole way home I thought about the coffee I would drink, the words I would write and the way I would feel completely like myself as I did so. I convinced myself that an hour and a half is enough time to write. Since becoming a mother, I have tended to my writing like a daytime campfire — something I don’t need just yet, but when the night falls I’ll throw everything I’ve got on it until flames lick the sky. As much as I savor the buttery rolls and slippery hair of my babies, I am looking forward to the time when I can be a mother, but also something else.
When we finally got home, I parked my double tall caramel macchiato on the dining room table while I got my kids situated. As I tended to my son, my daughter peed in the bushes and — consequently — her shoes. While I was washing the pee off her feet, my son climbed on the table and sent my coffee tumbling to its death. It’s almost as if he didn’t realize that I’d conflated that cup of coffee with the writing career that I can’t seem to grasp when I already have a kid in each hand.
As my coffee bled out on the floor, I dropped to my knees and cried, at first because I wanted that coffee so badly, but then because I was crying over coffee. After a moment of hideous self-pity, I got myself together, and mopped the coffee up so I could get to work.
The National Play About Motherhood – Established in 2008