Listen to Your Mother is a show where writers read their stories about motherhood - their experience as mothers, their experience being mothered, their experience watching others mother.
And in this day of smartphones and online social media updates, it can seem a little old fashioned to go to an actual place, sit with a crowd of people and listen to somebody just read. There's no song and dance here - just heartfelt, emotional, funny stories about life.
"As a culture, we spend so much time on our devices, we forget about the power of being with others," said Laura Brimberry, one of the writers featured in this year's Listen to Your Mother production in Raleigh. "... There's a lot to be heard. There's a lot to open your heart too."
Listen to Your Mother is part of a national series of shows that originally began in Madison, Wis. Creator Ann Imig, a mom and self-titled stay-at-home humorist, launched the first show in 2010. In the last five years, more shows, which are run by local producers, have cropped up. This year, 39 cities will play host, including Raleigh.
Here, 13 writers will share their stories - funny, sad and inspirational, sometimes all at the same time. Shows are 7:30 p.m., May 7 and May 8, at William Peace University in downtown Raleigh. Tickets are on sale now and have sold out the last two years, so get them now.
I sat down this week with Brimberry and Kerri Hall, who both will be presenting at the local show. (For full disclosure, I know both of the moms through various channels - my daughter played on the same soccer team as Brimberry's youngest. I first met Hall in my previous job as a local newspaper reporter and she has since shared her experience with perinatal mood disorders here on Go Ask Mom.)
Hall, a librarian who is active in the local group Postpartum Education and Support, has written quite a bit about her experience with postpartum depression. But for Listen to Your Mother, she decided to take a lighter look at her life - documenting her first experiences with online dating as a single mom. She and her husband divorced when their daughter, now 8, was 2.
"We agreed to meet at the zoo," wrote Hall of her first date after the divorce. "Like most women, my biggest fear was meeting a serial killer. I had a plan. If he ended up being creepy, I could lure him to the lions and throw him in their den."
I won't reveal how that date went. And, in addition to relying on lions, Hall also meets her dates in public places, gives a friend her date's contact information, and checks in with her friend when she gets home. But Hall said the experience has opened her eyes.
"I've learned to be less judgmental," she said. "I've met some really nice people. I've learned some really fascinating things."
Brimberry, who teaches parent education classes at SafeChild, has been writing for years, but she's kept most of it to herself.
"I'm a blogger wannabe," she said. Her good friend Erin Duffy, another local mom who participated in last year's show, inspired Brimberry to take part. Brimberry's story starts 18 years ago when her new boyfriend told her very early on in their relationship that his ex-girlfriend was pregnant with his child.
“'I am so out of here,'" she writes about her first reaction. "That’s what I remember thinking, 'I am so very out of here.' I didn’t sign up for this, I’m not jumping on the crazy train, no thank you. No thank you, very much. Except, I just couldn’t. Walk away, that is."
Brimberry eventually married that boyfriend. They are now raising four kids together.
"I went on this unexpected journey and I didn't know where I fit in. I didn't know who I was going to be to this child," she said. "I've been surprised every step of the way."
Hall and Brimberry are excited about the show next week. But they're also excited about continuing to grow as writers with the other women who will be reading their works.
"I've met fabulous people," Hall said. "The stories are just so touching."
Tickets for Listen to Your Mother are on sale now. The show's website has more information and bios about all of the writers who will be featured. This is a great night out with your mom friends or your mom, but get those tickets. The shows usually sell out.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.