‘Listen to Your Mother’ show in Wilmington examines many facets of motherhood

What’s the best way to celebrate mom this weekend? How about talking about motherhood in all of its glorious and messy details! A Wilmington show this Sunday features essays for, about and by moms. It’s part of a national performance series called “Listen To Your Mother.”

Mothers have always provided fodder for writers and comedians – sparking soaring tributes, heart-wrenching tirades, and hilarious jokes. “Listen to your Mother” capitalizes on this wealth of material – the show started in Madison, Wisconsin, and has spread to 24 cities, including Wilmington.

Being a mother, having a mother

“Our show is split into two parts,” explained Shosh Martyniak, director for “Listen to your Mother: Wilmington.” “The first part is about being a mother, and all the different experiences that women have, and the second part is about having a mother,” she added.

Within those broad categories, the individual essays take unexpected twists and turns. “My piece is actually about how my father was my mother,” said Martyniak, who always wanted to celebrate her dad on Mother’s Day. She said the essay she has written for the show is her chance, as evident in this excerpt:

“I’m always nervous to say my father raised us. My mother is not dead, my parentsare not divorced. My mother, however, is chronically ill. For long stretches of time my mother lay bed-ridden. For long stretches of time my father parented alone.”

Naturally, the show includes a segment dedicated to mother-daughter boundary issues. Comedian Shari Short will perform a piece that deals with her own diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, and how her mother has coped with it:

“When I was first diagnosed, it was different. Mom was really calm and cool about it all, at least to me. Then I realized her strategy was to talk to everybody BUT me about how she was feeling. For example, my bladder. She said, ‘Shar, I was talking to my friend about your bladder, and she recommended this kind of juice.’ I had to cut her off there. I said, ‘I’m sorry, what? You were talking about my bladder?'”

Mourning the loss of children and mothers

Other pieces in the show are both serious and sad. Petra DiLuca will read an essay written about her son Julian, who died when he was just 6 months old:

“I’m telling you about Julian because there were precious few people who knew him, and he is just a hazy memory in most everyone’s mind. I’m telling you because he mattered. There is an old Atzec belief that everyone dies three times. The first time is when his body dies, the second time is when his body is buried, and the third time is when he is no longer remembered by the living.”

Loss is a common theme. Show producer Jessica Kupferman wanted to get involved with the show as a way to remember her own mother, who died of cancer.

“There were so many things that I wanted to say about motherhood,” she said. “Me being a mother without her, her being a mother to me, and how I feel about not having her around anymore.”

Martyniak hopes “Listen to your Mother” will be a unifying experience for mothers — a way to bury the mommy-war hatchets for the day.

“They see their own stories inside these stories, and I want people to walk away and say ‘I feel that.'”

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