One of my students asked me this Thursday afternoon. He was, of course, referring to the sold out Listen To Your Mother show that I was to perform in that evening. He's a sweet kid, and a musician and as it turns out he and I have performed together in an annual Blues concert at school where I am the MC. So he and I have been on stage, together, before and he knows what it's like to be nervous. And excited. Or nervous-excited. Or excited-nervous. And I was all those and I bet he knew it.
I was nervous that my aunts weren't going to get their tickets. Then I was nervous that I was going to pee in my pants (dress?) because it totally felt like I was going to. I was nervous because I was cold so I was shaking, or at least I felt like I was shaking, so I thought I would be shaking on the stage. Shaking and peeing. Lovely. And I was nervous because some of my colleagues were coming to see the show and that's different than when your friends or family come to see the show. Family and friends know all sides of you but colleagues...well, they might only know some sides of you. Hopefully colleagues know the non-shaking and non-peeing in my pants (dress?) side of me.
Then there was the nervousness that comes with being on a stage, sharing something personal, and hoping that the audience gets it. Um, a sold out audience. And for me, that was funny. Not that I think a sold out audience is funny. What I was planning to share with the audience was funny; or, at least I thought so. That was my plan.
We had been getting terrific coaching advice from Stephanie. She told us all to be ourselves. She told us to take a moment, even if on the stage, if we needed it. She reminded us that if we got choked up during our piece, the audience would be supportive. In fact, she said, the audience would love it because it would be so real for them because it's so real for us. (Um, my piece is supposed to be funny so thanks for the "go ahead and cry on stage" advice, sheesh.)
But then the thing happened. That great thing that comes with being on stage and knowing that for the next 5-61/2 minutes you are going to own it. Because, after all, Listen To Your Mother is about sharing a story and connecting with someone in the audience. Someone in the audience would think that shaking and peeing in my pants would be funny. Aunt Betty certainly. But when Stephanie began to introduce me, and I got a chuckle from my introduction (which I wrote and meant to be a little bit funny) I instantly warmed up and my urge to pee left. I approached the stage - and here I have to again applaud Stephanie and all her direction - and I felt such a surge of supportive energy from those front two rows. My women. My LTYM cast mates. By the time I approached the microphone I knew it was going to be fun. You know, people, it's really fun for me to be on stage. My student who asked me earlier if I was nervous knows that about me. I'm sure of it. It's fun for him too. That's why we have that bond.
And guess what? I had a "moment" on stage. I did. No, I didn't cry. My piece was funny! And there was this moment where I delivered a punch line and the audience was laughing. Really taken by surprise laughing and I was engaged in my "pause" to let them finish their laughter so I could follow up with my next remark and really be heard. And I let myself go. I laughed at myself. On stage. And in that moment I heard whoops. I'm pretty sure some of the whoops were from my LTYM cast mates. They got it.
Because if a mom can't laugh at herself, how will she ever deal with the inevitable moment where she really does pee in her pants (dress!)? And now I know that because of LTYM, and the mission of LTYM to share something personal with an audience in which someone will connect with your piece, I could pee in my pants and some mama would turn to her neighbor and whisper, "I've done that."