Listen to Your Mother – New Orleans

22 03 2016

I’ve heard that if a TED Talk married the Vagina Monologues that it’s offspring would be Listen to Your Mother. Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) is a performance about motherhood and LTYM performances will be held in 41 cities across North America around Mother’s Day. Each performance is unique to the city that births it and yet all are related by the same theme. Each cast member reads an essay that they have written. One does not have to be a writer, or a performer, or a woman to be in the cast. The only requirement is that your story be about motherhood. The inaugural New Orleans performance is Mother’s Day weekend. Click here for details.  All past performances can be found on the LYTM website.


The Big City
My Dad always referred to New Orleans as the Big City. Baton Rouge is only 80 miles away. I love my hometown, but it’ll always be a country cousin to that big city down river. I remember going there only once in my childhood. I still remember how exotic it felt. There were giant palm trees in the medians of major boulevards downtown. Only the medians were called the neutral ground. There were buildings taller than any in my hometown, wrought iron balconies, and lots of people were out walking the broad sidewalks of those busy city streets. The homes were narrow, and had tiny yards, and were called shotguns. Even inside, the ceilings were higher than what I was used to. People rode streetcars and buses to get to places. It was so different from the small, comfortable world I knew.

As an adult, New Orleans still has the same exotic feel to me. I’ve loved it since that first visit. When I saw someone in a blogging group I’m in was going to produce the first LTYM in my favorite city, I immediately asked her to let me know when it would be because I wanted to attend. When she asked why don’t I audition, I thought about it for a day and said, why not!? I became the first to sign up. Before I knew it, I was reading the story I had written to the producers. And I was chosen for the cast.


I knew deep down that my story had the right spice for New Orleans. And speaking of spice, every trip to the big city during this adventure has involved experiencing another landmark restaurant. It really is the best foodie city in the world. I could almost live on the bread, coffee and Bloody Marys alone.

I sat and listened to my cast mates stories at the first read through and got a taste of what the performance would become. Like the best gumbo there were the unique elements that gave each story it’s own flavor. Most people say that their mama makes the best gumbo. Together the dozen in the New Orleans cast created an extraordinary gumbo that only stories about motherhood could make. I am trembling with excitement (and a little fear) while I wait for this performance to be served to its audience on Mother’s Day weekend. 

Between the first practice and the performance, I will turn 59. I made a conscious decision when I entered my 50’s to do things that moved me outside my comfort zone. I entered my 50’s by jumping out of a plane and on the eve of my 60’s it feels appropriate that I’m taking center stage. I can now confidently say, “listen to this mother!”


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A Mother Moment

4 05 2014

The women of Midlife Boulevard May’s bloghop is on memorable motherhood moments. A bloghop is when a group of bloggers write on the same subject. The links to my friend’s blogs are at the end of this post.

Three Generations (I love mom making a silly face)

Three Generations (I love mom making a silly face)

I just spent a week with my Mom in the hospital for a broken wrist. It was a hard fall and at 85 breaks and surgery get real serious, real fast. It was very difficult for mom and for me too. But I can’t deny that she’s a drama queen and when she has an audience she likes to perform. Because of her age and her sweet little old lady demeanor, she gets away with murder.

She had names for the various staff who cared for her; Doogie Howser, Justin Beiber (it was the hair), Queen Latifa, BarBarBarBarBaran, and George (from Seinfeld). When the Physical Therapist didn’t look too happy about being called George Costanza she tried to make him feel better by telling him she adores that character. She told him she loved George because of his ineptitude and because he couldn’t get a date. Poor George, I never did learn that therapist’s name.

Doogie Howser came to ask her questions to make sure she was informed and ready for her upcoming surgery. I appreciated the time he spent especially when her answers were long and had nothing to do with the question. I knew he was about to ask her about Do Not Resuscitate orders when he said he had a final important question to ask her. That’s when she said, “You want to know if I still have sex?!” He actually blushed.

The Chaplin was a small quiet man whose hands stayed in his pockets. It was the end of the day and you could tell we were the last stop and he was ready to go home. He asked mom if she would like him to say a prayer for her. After she said yes, he wanted to know if there was anything she would like him to pray for. He was not expecting her to say World Peace in her best beauty pageant voice. “Let us pray for Jimmie’s health…and for world peace.” I kept my head bowed to try to hide my laughter.

My sweetie came to stay with her while I went home to catch up on sleep and take a shower. When she complained to him that I was cranky, he explained to her that I had not left her side all week and one doesn’t really get any sleep in a hospital at night. The next night when mom called for the nurse, she explained in a loud whisper, “SSSSHHHH, DON’T WAKE MY DAUGHTER, SHE GETS CRANKY WHEN SHE DOESN’T HAVE HER BEAUTY SLEEP.”

My daughter came for a visit and she helped me to see humor in my mom accusing me of smoking marijuana in the room, when in fact she was the one on morphine. When Mom accused me randomly at 6:00 AM, I didn’t find it funny, but my drug of choice, caffeine, hadn’t kicked in yet.

So why would I treasure this moment in time, when in reality it was a very difficult week? Once I caught up on sleep I realized it was a week filled with love and not just outrageous things mom said. When Mom was first admitted she waited hours on a gurney in the ER hallway waiting to find out how bad her injury was. Vulnerable, in pain, unable to move in a neck brace and not even allowed to take a sip of water to quench her thirst, she was very scared. She only had me to keep her calm. I started reading my blog to her from my phone. She loves my writing, especially when I write about her. My blog is filled with stories of my family, both sentimental and quirky. I could see her visibly relax as I read post after post.

Mother to daughter—l’m now mothering my mom. When my adult daughter came up to visit her Nana, we all three came up with a list of people that needed to receive her college graduation announcements and who needed to come to her graduation party. With a bittersweet joy I knew to savor that moment. At 85, every day with my mom is precious. And I don’t know how much longer my daughter will be able to drop by before she flies away on her own life’s journey, far away from home.

Gifts from the Universe come in unexpected packages. I’m grateful for this year’s Mother’s Day gift. I’m a grateful mom and a daughter sandwiched with love between generations.

I honor my maternal lineage: I am Connie Lee, daughter of Jimmie Dee, daughter of Jimmie Corrine, daughter of Minnie Mae; mother of Jade Lee-Mei.


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