Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Get up, stand up

A few weeks ago I went along to an event called the Vagina Dialogues which, rather than being a group discussion about vaginas (which in itself could have been a raucous affair), was actually an evening of thought-provoking entertainment designed to facilitate a conversation between us about our experiences of motherhood - whether as a mother, or having been mothered.

I had expected that I would come away with a few insights, which I did, but what I hadn't anticipated is that it would lead me to performing stand-up.

We were asked to make ourselves a promise - the usual workshop thing of committing to paper something that you'll either stop, start or continue doing - and mine was "I will be more honest and less afraid".  We were also asked to write down some goals, for which I had included "attend an open mic night".

It's funny how writing a few words on a bit of paper can grab you.  Having looked at my list I asked one of the staff at the venue if they did open mic nights to which the reply was "yes, there's one in three weeks actually".  I called the box office and asked if there were performance slots available and they freed one up for me.  I told a friend I was going to do it and then couldn't back out....

And with this mic, I silence thee
horrid inner critic!
I felt nervous as hell, pacing the kitchen rehearsing aloud in the days before, and then on the eve of the gig I watched my son, daughter and their school friends perform songs, skits and poems in front of each other and hundreds of parents.  These children aged between four and eleven have been taught to enjoy performing and in the process are picking up some incredible life skills - did I miss that lesson or did the process of growing up rub some of that out?

In the end it was a great experience - life affirming, liberating and confidence building.  Thankfully it was held by the very supportive team at New Greenham Arts who welcome first-timers (trying to take on a Saturday night Jongleurs crowd may well  have ended very differently....) 

What I learned was that being honest with myself about something I wanted to try helped me to silence the little voice that makes me afraid of what other people might think.  And that feeling the fear and going for it is not a sensation we experience often enough as adults.  And that there's still lots to be learned from our honest, unafraid children.  Now that is a good lesson in motherhood.

Soundtrack: Get Up Stand Up - Bob Marley

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