Listen To Your Mother: you’ll be hearing her voice in 32 cities before Mother’s Day

LTYM 2014 logoI’m having trouble sleeping for the butterflies in my stomach, so it must be late April! And why yes, it is: the Listen to Your Mother NYC countdown has begun.

Listen to Your Mother  started with 12 women and a microphone in Madison, Wisconsin in 2010. Since then, the brainchild of “stay-at-home humorist” Ann Imig has burgeoned into a true phenomenon.

This year, 32 cities from coast to coast will present their own LTYM shows between now and Mother’s Day:  AtlantaAustinBaltimoreBostonBoulderCharleston,ChicagoDCDenverIndianapolisKansas CityLittle RockMadisonMetro DetroitMilwaukee,NashvilleNorth JerseyNorthern UtahNW IndianaNYCOklahoma CityPlumas CountyPortland,ProvidenceRaleigh DurhamSacramento, San FranciscoSoutheast TexasSpokane, St. LouisThe OC, and Twin Cities.

This is my third year directing the NYC show, and the contact high that I get from being around all these incredible storytellers– from auditions to the day of the show– keep me going all year.

LTYM NYC’s 2014 cast features men and women, new moms and empty-nesters, parents and non-parents, from Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and beyond, telling stories that are heartbreaking, hilarious, and everything in between.

photo by Jennifer Lee
photo by Jennifer Lee


I know the power that these stories can hold, both for those in the audience and those on stage. I’ve seen LTYM catapult those who take part into new jobs, new friendships, new companies, and new frontiers. Hell, it’s done all of those things just for me.

screenshotThis year our New York City show serves as a benefit for the Women’s Prison Association, which works with women at all stages of criminal justice involvement to help them realize new possibilities for themselves and for their families. How did we find WPA? Through LTYM, where all roads lead– our 2012 LTYM NYC alum Alysia Reiner became deeply involved with the WPA after she hit it big on Orange is the New Black.

So if you’re in the NYC area, I hope you’ll buy a ticket and join us at Listen To Your Mother: NYC on Sunday, May 4th at 5:00 p.m. at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side. I can promise you a very meaningful ninety minutes– the perfect gift for the moms in your life, or just for yourself. That’s Mother’s Day, for real.

when I grow up…

Portrait of a little girl thinking, over a gray backgroundA friend of mine was crowd-sourcing on Facebook recently. “For a story I’m working on,” she wrote, “please ask your daughters: What do they want to be when they grow up?”

The comments came in so fast you could practically see the churn:

Astrophysicist! Veterinarian! Pearl diver!

I couldn’t wait to join the fun. My six-year-old daughter has not always been consistent in her vocational aspirations, but her hyphenates are without peer:

“Ballerina and a pet doctor!”

Sofia the First and a gymnastics girl!”

Basically, all I had to do was ask the question and I’d have the most-liked Facebook comment of my career. I catch her between cartwheels.

ME: Maggie. What do you want to be when you grow up?

She thinks about it. Sighs.

MAGGIE: Just a mom.

ME: …What do you mean, just a mom?

MAGGIE:  Like, I used to want to be other stuff, but now I just want to be a mom. I just want to go on the computer and clean up and stuff.

She cartwheels away down the hall.

I am left reeling. Is that what she thinks I DO? “Go on the computer and clean up and stuff”? Okay, yes, that pretty much sums it up, but– WAIT. I do a LOT. I catch up with Maggie in her room.

ME: Is that ALL moms do? Go on the computer and clean up?

My daughter sighs even more deeply. Thinks about it.

MAGGIE: You have to start getting dinner ready too.

She imagines this with a weary wave of her hand, like “starting to get dinner ready” is a momentary distraction, a brief mental check– yes, I have started thinking about that– before a mom can get back to “going on the computer.”

This kept me up that night. Did my daughter really think that was all I did, some twenty-first century version of soap operas and bonbons in a bathrobe?

I couldn’t let it go. Over breakfast the next morning:

ME: So you’re going to be a mom when you grow up, and that is SO GREAT, but what else are you going to do? How about be a scientist? Or, I don’t know, a pearl diver?

MAGGIE: Nope. Just a mom.

ME: So what are you going to do when your kids are in school?

MAGGIE: I’ll go to spinning cycle class.

OH MY GOD. My daughter was totally calling me out. 

ME: Is that what I do while you’re in school?

MAGGIE: Sometimes.

ME: What else do I do?

MAGGIE: You try to write.

There it was, ladies and gentlemen. My daughter had seen inside my very soul.  There will never be a better description of what I do all day than “try to write.” The first draft of my novel, one that I barely remember writing and which has gotten only cursory glances since November, can attest to that.

But I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I mean, who has the time? After going on the computer and thinking about what’s for dinner?