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Go Ask Mom

14 stories of motherhood: Listen to Your Mother plans fifth, final year in Raleigh

Posted April 23
Updated April 24

Aleta Payne of Listen to Your Mother

For the fifth and final year, a Raleigh stage will host essays on motherhood as part Listen to Your Mother, a national series featuring live readings on essays about motherhood.

Locally, it's produced by two Triangle moms and writers, Keanne Hoeg and Marty Long, who have been organizing sold-out shows since they launched a version of it here. The show's founder announced in August that this would be the final season.

The show is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., May 5, at Jones Auditorium on the campus of Meredith College. Tickets, which are $21.50, are on sale now. The show's website has more information and ticket details. These make for fun date nights or evenings out with your mom friends.

I checked in with two of the moms, who will be sharing their stories at the month, by email.

Heather Hankinson is a human resources professional at a local nonprofit and single mom, living in her hometown of Fuquay-Varina, with her six-year-old son, who has non-verbal autism.

Aleta Payne is a former print reporter and editor who now works with a statewide, faith-based nonprofit. She has three young adult sons. Her "baby" started college last August. She lives in Cary.

Here's a Q&A. (And check back on Go Ask Mom's Facebook page for an FB Live video around 10:45 a.m., Friday, to hear more from them and a little bit of their stories).

Go Ask Mom: Why did you want to participate in Listen to Your Mother?

Heather Hankinson: I saw the production advertised about three years ago. I watched the performances online, but never actually attended the show in person. Believing that everyone has a story to tell, I wanted to tell my story, but could never really pinpoint what my story should be about in relation to motherhood. My indecision was an easy way to talk myself out of auditioning every year. Hearing that this was the final year for "Listen to Your Mother," I signed up to audition. I wrote my piece the day of my audition and was the last audition of that day. I never expected to make the cast, only to tell my personal story and finally make good on my promise to myself to someday audition.

Aleta Payne: Because we all really do have a story to tell, and those stories help us see that we are more alike than different. This particular story I will be sharing was important to me because most of the last quarter century of my life has been largely defined by my children. I am entering a new phase where that is not the case, and this acknowledges that transition along with how much being a mom means to me.

GAM: Have you always been a writer? Tell us a little bit about that part of your life.

HH: I have always written, but never for an audience. Until I became a single parent of a child with special needs, I was always the friend that sent handwritten cards and letters to friends and family. Writing has been something that I have always personally enjoyed in terms of being able to use words to evoke emotion in the reader. To be able to make the reader feel something through words is such a gift and one that I hope to continue as I write more that can be shared with an audience.

AP: I have worked for daily newspapers as well as a monthly magazine as a reporter and editor. Even in my current work, telling stories is important. Just as I cannot imagine my life if I’d never been a mother, I cannot imagine it if I’d never had the chance to write.

GAM: What's your essay all about?

HH: My story focuses on my love for my son as a single, working mom. It speaks to the heartbreak of unexpectedly being a single mom and of my son's diagnosis of autism when he was two years old. More importantly, it focuses on how my connection with other autism moms helped me to create a life that I love and ultimately become the best mom and advocate for my son. The concept of "it takes a village" certainly resonates in my piece.

AP: Hindsight!

GAM: What has the experience, so far, been like participating in LTYM?

HH: It has been an amazing opportunity to share my story and my life with 14 incredible women. All diverse with the most heartfelt, relatable, relevant stories. Even before we met in person, we met through social media and immediately felt a connection with one another. The connection to these women has been the best part of this experience for me. Not only have their stories touched my heart, but who they are as people has both inspired and delighted me. The passion that comes through in their writing and in their performances has connected us in such a unique way that after May 5, I will still be connected in friendship to these amazing women and mothers for years to come.  What a gift!

AP: Oh my goodness gracious, it’s like going to a party where you’re intimidated because all of the cool kids will be there and you’re not sure you’ll fit in, and then finding out that they’re cool PLUS wildly talented but also fun, and funny, and tremendously kind. Then you’re just so grateful you were invited.

GAM: Why should people come out to the show?

HH: This show is for everyone that has a mother. The stories are so powerful and convey such emotion that each and every member of the audience will connect to at least one story of the evening and most likely several. Many of the stories speak to our ever changing political climate - what it means to our society, how we raise our children, how we speak to them about what is being said in the media and what events are taking place in the world. It is so much more than a performance ... it's an experience. I believe the audience will feel our connection to our words as well as each other and, in turn, they will connect and relate to us. It truly is a celebration of motherhood with all of the raw emotions that comes with being a mother. It's a fun show, it's a powerful experience and it's guaranteed to touch you emotionally in some way.

AP: I cannot imagine anyone could come to LTYM and not see some part of their life reflected in it. And it will be told in a way that is funny and heartbreaking and human and with so much love. We all could use that right now.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.

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