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6th annual ‘Listen To Your Mother’ event sets motherhood center stage

The 2018 cast of “Listen To Your Mother” [Photo courtesy of Laura Rey]

It was 16th President Abraham Lincoln who said, “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my mother.” One production in St. Louis is taking those words to heart and from the mouths of local speakers is “giving motherhood a microphone.”

The sixth annual “Listen To Your Mother” [LTYM] production, sponsored in part by West Newsmagazine,  showcases speakers across the state recounting a diverse range of experiences. Those speakers will take the stage twice on May 12 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at St. Luke’s Hospital’s Institute for Health Education, 232 S. Woods Mill Road in Chesterfield. The event coincides with Mother’s Day, but everyone is welcome to purchase tickets and attend.

Naomi Francis, event co-producer and director, described the event as “the good, the bad and the barely rested.”

The goal of the 90-minute production is to take audiences through personal accounts from a hand-picked cast of speakers on a diverse range of topics all tied together by the motif of motherhood. Accounts range in tone from heartwarming to emotionally intense and thought-provoking.

“We try not to leave people crying,” Francis said. “We try to always end with a funnier piece. We have tissues available because it can be emotional. We just want people to be together and celebrate motherhood.”

She said speakers describe the show as “a once in a lifetime experience.”

“It’s hard to describe, but it’s just a wonderful experience,” Francis said. “It’s sort of like a village coming together and really being a part of each other’s lives.”

Being a mom, having a mom, losing a mom, finding a mom – all are presented as part of the show’s motif.

For 2018 cast member Darcy Smith, the event is an opportunity to immortalize her late mother, a “Southern belle” that Smith described as “every bit a lady.”

“She told me to never walk up the stairs, ‘Always run,’” Smith said. “There she was, 86 years old and running up the stairs in her stilettos.”

According to Smith, her story is sentimental with a big twist.

“You can’t talk about my mother without the twist,” Smith said. “She presented an image on the outside and people thought, ‘Oh my gosh, look at her. She’s perfect. Every bit a lady and a woman of the South.’ Yet there was this playful, strong and opinionated woman that she really kept to herself, but she allowed me to see.”

For 2018 cast member Jenny Rogers, the event is an opportunity to speak to other mothers about raising children who are transitioning to teenagers.

“It was a very hard transition for me because I’m the fun mom and I’m their friend, but now I’m not,” Rogers said. “It’s kind of a kick in the heart when they don’t like you anymore, but you know that’s what is supposed to happen, even though it still hurts my feelings. I’m a human being, even though I’m a mother, which is the ‘worst thing in the world.’”

Rogers hopes her speech will serve as a message to both new and old parents.

“I hope it will resonate with someone who is currently going through that with teenagers and maybe feeling less of a mother,” Roger said.

Bringing people together to discuss multiple aspects of motherhood was exactly why the production was created by its Wisconsin-based creator Ann Imig in 2010. It didn’t take long for the show to catch on. As of 2018, the production spans over 50 cities with 250 productions across North America.

A key element of the show is charitable giving. This year the local LTYM production will support Amazing Gracie’s Legacy, which assists families affected by the critical care needs of one or more of their children due to unforeseen health circumstances. Since its founding, LTYM has raised $140,000 for nonprofit causes.

“I learned this early on as a mom, but it’s very hard to be vulnerable because you feel like every other mother around you has [it all] together, and you’re the only one who is a hot mess,” Rogers said. “We’re all in good company if we would just let our guard down and share.”

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