Unconditionally Mom, part à deux

Unconditionally Mom, part à deux

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.                   —ee cummings

 

On Saturday, April 14, I will stand on the stage at the 15th Annual Baltimore CityLit Festival with my Listen To Your Mother cast sisters and do a repeat reading of my 2015 essay on motherhood.

I auditioned for LTYM in winter 2015 after I read the poster asking people to read their original writings on motherhood. Hadn’t written a word yet, but my heart knew I had a good shot when I contemplated writing about my twin gay sons’ coming out. It’s a good story. I have decent skill as a wordsmith. My sons said, “Go for it Mom.” So—I wrote, auditioned and made it.

I rehearsed with my cast sisters, reading with ease and a bit of flair. The day of the performance, I thought, “I’ve got this! I’m used to public speaking and performing.” What I didn’t factor, was the hefty emotion of telling this very personal story with my sons and husband in the audience. I was at turns confident and a hot mess. Looking up where those pieces of my heart sat, I expressed the depth of my mother-love. My sons were laser-focused on me, trusting me to tell it true—that very intimate part of their story. I did them proud, so they told me after the show. Read the rest of this entry

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Unconditionally Mom–LTYM

Unconditionally Mom–LTYM

“I raised my sons to be extraordinary, to see possibilities, not roadblocks.”—Vicky D’Agostino, LTYM 2015

On a snowy February day I made a pivotal decision in my journey to becoming a bona fide storyteller.  While stirring my grande pike’s at Starbucks, I saw the poster announcing auditions for the 2015 Listen To Your Mother Baltimore Show  to be performed on  May 9. Listen To Your Mother (LTYM) “features live readings by local writers on the beauty, the beast, and the barely-rested of motherhood, in celebration of Mother’s Day in over 40 cities across the U.S.”  I auditioned…drum roll … I was in! Part of a posse of cast sisters who share the common bonds of motherhood–as in we have mothers, are mothers, do not or do want to be mothers.

Through rehearsals I came to know these fine women in a very intimate reveal of our souls. It was View More: http://jensnyder.pass.us/ltymamazing how quickly the walls came down and the hugs flew as one by one, we listened with awe, empathy, tears and laughter at our stories. We are a vibrant, collective voice of our intensely beautiful, poignant experiences of mothering’s joys and struggles. Some of our stories are gut wrenching. Some are hilarious. Some are both.

On the BIG DAY, our families and friends sat in the auditorium waiting eagerly for our shining star moment. There were plenty of laughs pre-show as we gals gussied up in the dressing View More: http://jensnyder.pass.us/ltymrooms. Lovely producers Taya and Arlene kept us focused and pumped up. Arlene gave us a most special blessing as we held hands in a circle of love that our words would find root in the hearts of our audience who most needed them.

When my turn came at the podium, I was uber-emotional since my sons were in the audience with my darling husband, future son-in-law and good friends. It was the first time I publically shared Adam and Alex’s coming out story. It is at turns raw, honest and funny. I got through it forgetting everything I’d learned about public speaking/performing. But that didn’t matter because it is my love story for my boys. Momma Bear on the scene, tender heart and all.

View More: http://jensnyder.pass.us/ltymWith the utmost respect and love, thank you to my LTYM 2015 cast sisters Heather Pulliam Belcher, Elisabeth Budd-Brown, Lisa Brown, Kim Fossum, Heather Leah Huddleston, Laura Ivey, Arlene Jackson, Taya Dunn Johnson, Taylor King, Kristi Koumentakos, Anne Mathay, Katie McLaughlin, Michelle Reale-Opalesky and Michelle Smith. Special thanks to LTYM founder Ann Imig for your brilliance and passion to create an organization that gives motherhood a voice. Jen Snyder, thanks for your keen eye and elegant photography that captured our day for eternity. You women lift me up with your bravery, grace, wit, wisdom and compassion. I treasure each of you!

View More: http://jensnyder.pass.us/ltymSo here, for your viewing pleasure is our 90 minute show. FYI, this show was on May 9, prior to our excellent U.S. Supreme Court’s national decision on June 26 legalizing gay marriage—#LoveWins! I never doubted it for a minute.

 

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PRIDE On Parade

PRIDE On Parade

“The beauty of standing up for your rights is others see you standing and stand up as well.” — Cassandra Duffy

Mark and I marched in our first Pride [1] Parade this month 15 years after our twin sons came out. Why so long you might think?

In a word, uncomfortable.

Us with figuring out the new rules of our family when the boys shared their truth. Them figuring out how to live in their truth in the already tumultuous world of being teenagers. And some family members who weren’t comfortable with our family’s reality clashing with their beliefs and religion.

As Mark and I talked about why we waited so long to walk with like-minded, loving people at Pride, we speculated that the boys were uncomfortable with us participating as we became comfortable with their new community. Our sons asked us not to walk during their early years as this was their thing. Dating is awkward enough as a teen much less when society doesn’t accept who you are. As Alex said, “Pride is the easiest time for gay kids to date and how young people start to find their first relationships.”

I remember the boys coming home after their first Pride parade and events totally pumped and empowered from the acceptance and support they experienced en masse. They whitewashed some of the hate mongers’ slurs and epithets as they know how incensed I become at ignorance and cruelty. Adam and Alex’s way of dealing with these small-minded bigots was to blow glitter kisses to them as they danced merrily down the macadam. Adam usually takes a more peaceful approach—unless someone harasses his Brudder. Hell hath no fury like his twin scorned. Read the rest of this entry

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The Heart Knows

The Heart Knows

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of…we know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.”—Blaise Pascal

As I walked Miles one cold Sunday afternoon recently at our favorite park, I was pondering my career and life. This is nothing new as the hamster wheel of what to do next spins constantly in my brain. I was feeling chipper and relaxed as I meandered with my big black dog. The sun popped out which is always so welcome in winter. The timing was cosmic, however.

I paused as we crossed the bridge to the main entrance to admire the view when I spied the heart-shaped rock in the middle of the stream. I’d made this trip dozens of times, but never before had I seen this gem peaceful amid the flowing waters. As I studied the scene, I noticed mini rapids flowing toward the heart positioned smack in the middle of the stream. Then I saw that the water surrounding the rock and beyond was calm, serene. The long bend of the stream was an elegant and subtle twist with the beauty found only in winter grays and browns of slumbering trees and tall grasses.

It occurred to me that this scene is a metaphor for my own journey. I’ve come through a rocky period in the D’Ag family in 2018. Death, job transitions, legal battles, bodily conditions out of control. It wasn’t all rough water—there were weddings and family celebrations aplenty. Freedom to explore my interior landscape and where I want to go next in the land of earning money, and just plain joy in the journey time.

What seemed suddenly revealed to me was the wisdom nature’s heart talisman offered. I often repeated to my sons they will never go wrong if they let their heart lead them to their happiness. Once you accept that simple, inescapable fact, you hit smooth waters. There is adventure waiting if you follow your heart as it points the way to your greatest path of joy.

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Choosing Joy on Mother’s Day

Choosing Joy on Mother’s Day

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.—Abraham Lincoln

Mom, Debbie & me

Mom, Debbie & me

Grandma Joyce & Baby Boinkers

Grandma Joyce & Baby Boinkers

Mom & Dad in finery

Mom & Dad in wedding finery

Grandma's lap is best!

Grandma’s lap is best!

Happy 1st Birthday Adam & Alex!

Happy 1st Birthday Adam & Alex!

Aunt Ellie, Aunt Bev & Mom. Sisters!

Sisters! Aunt Ellie, Aunt Bev & Mom

Happy 60th Mom!

Happy 60th Mom!

My your pie is yummy Joyce (Debbie, Mom, Carmen, Bev)

My your pie is yummy Joyce (Debbie, Mom, Carmen, Bev)

Story time with Grandma

Story time with Grandma. (Adam l, Alex r)

It’s the 20th Mother’s Day without my mom Joyce. TWENTY YEARS. That’s a lifetime. Enough days woven together to raise kids, change careers, move and relish life while tromping through the daily grind. All spent without advice and support from the woman who loved me unconditionally.

I think Mom would say I’ve done a good job of raising my family. She told my sister I was a “good little mother” in the early years of parenting our twin sons. Thank you Debbie for sharing that with me. I’ve held onto that gift more than you can ever know, replaying it over and over when the bumps were especially rough.

Do I think of Mom every day? No. Oh sure I see our birthday photo that lives atop my jewelry chest each day as I make the bed. I say a silent hello. But I don’t always pause to truly think about her. The many ways she lived a rich, spiritual life. How she dealt with a devastating diagnosis that almost took my sister’s life. Of a husband who successfully fought mental demons while she raised her first-born, worked full time and ran the household. Sitting bed-side by her sisters as they were dying. Watching her son struggle with such depression it almost ended badly but through the grace of God, come back to the light.

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