Two years ago, Stephanie Precourt went to Wisconsin for a get–together with other bloggers she had gotten to know.
One of them, Ann Imig, talked about putting on a show featuring different people talking about motherhood.
Imig put her show on in 2010, and then posted it online. Precourt was so moved she decided to host her own show in Valparaiso last year while other women produced shows in four other cities. This year, unique productions of "Listen To Your Mother" will be performed in 10 cities across the country, timed to coincide with the week of Mother's Day. The Valparaiso show will be May 10 at the Memorial Opera House and will be posted online about a month later.
Precourt, who is directing and producing the show, said it contains some mature content and adult language, and isn't suitable for children younger than preteens.
Most of the people performing don't have professional writing or stage experience, Precourt said. Although two men participated as readers in last year's show, this year all 14 participants are women. Each will read five–minute pieces they have written.
"Some are funny, some are sad, and some are heartwarming," she said. "Every piece is so different. We have some amazing talent in the area, reading pieces that might not otherwise be told." Megan Summers, 51, of Valparaiso, will read her essay "Mom – there's not an APP for that."
"No matter what stage you are in your motherhood journey, you'll always be a Mom to your kids, no matter their ages," said Summers, who also read last year. "Being a mother is a lifetime commitment. It just changes forms over the years."
Precourt, a mother of four, has been writing the blog www.adventuresinbabywearing.com since 2005. She also writes a blog for The Times' Your Family website called "Close to Home." She and the women reading want their audience to realize that many people have the same types of experiences while parenting.
"I will be revealing some things I've done, knowing that I'm not alone in having done them. Then I'll wink," said June Saavedra, who will read her piece, "The Secret Life of Moms."
Stephanie Hauser, who also will be reading in the show, agreed.
"They are not alone in their struggles of life as a woman, mother or daughter," said Hauser. "There are other people that think the same things are funny or have had the same crazy experiences as you." She said the show is appropriate for men, as well, as they relate to how their own mothers were or what their wives have gone though. Katy Hoagland, who has no children of her own, will talk about growing up with a working mother.
"I want people to walk out of that theater with a new appreciation for their mothers," she said. "But more than anything, I want the mothers to walk out of that theater and stop being so hard on themselves."
Hoagland, 29, said everyone has a mother, knows a mother, or is a mother.
"I don't have children, but motherhood is still a part of my life. I see my own mother push me to be better, even as I approach my 30s. I see my friends stumble as they learn how to become mothers to their young children," she said. "I see myself take on a maternal role with younger friends who still need guidance and support. Motherhood is more than raising a child to adulthood. It's being supportive and loving to those around you and choosing to sacrifice your own dreams in favor of helping someone else achieve theirs."
The women also want people to appreciate how challenging and rewarding motherhood can be.
Mothers need to be comfortable with their ever–changing status, Hauser said.
"At different points you may be a nurse, taxi driver, teacher or even a friend to your kids," she said.
"Just learning to love your life and yourself and enjoying the moment you are at in your life as a Mom is all we need to be in the end." Summers agreed.
"I had no idea how much more complex motherhood seems these days," said Summers, whose three children are in their 20s. "When I was raising kids, there was no Internet, so obviously no blogs or ways to get feedback on how you were doing. Actually, there was less pressure to be the perfect Mom."
Judy Miller, of Indianapolis, will read her piece "Soul Speak," about adopting her youngest son, now 10, from Guatemala. Miller believes motherhood is a sacred honor, "It is raw, beautiful and real," said Miller, who has a 19–year old biological son, as well as 14 and 12 year old daughters adopted from China in addition to her 10–year–old son from Guatemala. "It is an incredible commitment beyond anything I could comprehend. It is a love there is no words for."
Miller says she feels immense responsibility for trying to guide a person throughout life, giving them tools like compassion and open–mindedness and hope they function well.
"Motherhood is a sacred honor and a privilege," she said. "It is hard, but it is the greatest thing in the world."