I know how she felt. Well. . . sort of. This was maybe not quite on the level of a Newbery Medal,
And a similar phrase went through my mind. But, it's about a fish, I thought. They want me to read my story about a dead goldfish? To borrow my castmate Daphnee Renfrow's word. . . Really?
I'd watched several of the videos of last year's perfomers in cities across the country. These women wrote raw and from the heart. They wrote about losing their mothers, losing their children, illness, addiction, heartbreak, redemption. Powerful stuff.
I had tried, after seeing their brilliant performances, to write about my mom, gone not quite three years to cancer. My mother: a beautiful, intelligent woman, who stepped into the role of "Grammie" to my three daughters with the same grace, strength and humor she'd shown raising me. I couldn't do it. She's a part of me, and everything I write, but to write and read aloud a piece about her and what she meant to me—and deliver it to a crowded auditorium of people? I wasn't ready.
The only requirements for a Listen To Your Mother essay are that your piece be original, not yet published, and on the theme of motherhood. You needn't be a mom to participate, but your piece must reflect something to do with motherhood.
So, I wrote a funny little story about a pet fish. Because that's the essence of my journey through motherhood: the follies. Moments big and small. I hoped it wouldn't seem too silly or insignificant.
On the night of the show, I stood on stage with a group of fabulous women who, in a very short time, became friends, bonded by the Listen To Your Mother experience. And I told my story.
I realized that it wasn't insignificant. It was authentic. People seemed to like it. I was proud of myself, and of the whole cast. I'd shown my two older daughters that I was funny—and brave.
I didn't write an essay about my mother, but I did something I know she'd be proud of. And for now, that's enough.