Listen to Your Mother is a national storytelling movement giving motherhood a stage and a megaphone since 2010. Founder Ann Imig hosted one show in Madison, WI on Mother’s Day in 2010. Other cities around the country applied to host shows and LTYM quickly grew to four shows in 2011, ten shows in 2012, 24 shows in 2013, 36 shows in 2014, and, this year, 39 cities across the country are hosting LTYM shows on or around Mother’s Day!
The premise of LTYM is really simple: A stage, a microphone, and real stories of motherhood.
Along with two other local writers, Tracy Morrison and Vikki Reich, I’ve been co-directing LTYM in the Twin Cities since 2013. TC Jewfolk writer Nina Badzin was in our inaugural cast and in this year’s cast we have a Jewish mother reading who I want to introduce you to today.
Marsha Partington is a freelance writer and a full-time alcohol and drug counselor. When not working or writing, she’s probably advocating for social justice, spending time with her two dogs, or trying to convince her child, who is the topic of her LTYM piece this year, to move back to Minnesota.
I asked Marsha to define the modern day “Jewish mother.” I think this is a label that most of us love to hate, but secretly embrace.
Marsha says, “A modern day Jewish mother is not that different than a traditional Jewish mother. Maybe dressed a little more “hip” and younger (or at least younger looking!), but with the same passionate, excessive involvement with their child and their child’s lives.”
I agree with Marsha whole-heartedly. I see so much of my own Jewish mother in my own parenting. Marsha says, “I am a ‘Jewish Mother’ because I grew up in the culture. I suspect I am way more liberal and less enmeshed than many other Jewish mothers. As much as I miss my child, I know I have to give the freedom to follow her dream regardless of whether I like it or not. My role is to be supportive. The world is hard enough without parents making it harder.” This is such wise advice, and something I hope to emulate—even though the letting go part sounds hard!
I also asked Marsha to give you a little teaser about what she’ll be reading on stage on May 7th. She says, “The story I’m telling at LTYM is the ‘heart and soul,’ the foundation of my relationship with my child in my eyes. It weaves its way between integrating an important lesson I want to model for her, along with the realization that sometimes I am the learner and she is the teacher, just as sometimes I am the teacher and she is the learner. It’s about unconditional love and compromise, but with an unusual twist.” I’ve heard Marsha’s story twice now and I can attest to this: You will fall in love with the twist!
I did have to know this: Why this piece? Marsha explains, “I chose this story because it demonstrates how emotionally close my child and I are, and how very much we genuinely love and respect each other. Just as she was getting ready to be ‘launched’ by going away to college, we found a way to symbolize our forever connection in spite of the ensuing miles between us.”
As for you, dear TC Jewfolk readers, Marsha hopes you see something that I hold so very close to my heart. She says, “As for a Jewish audience, I hope they hear the inherent humor in agonizing over what we think we must do because of potentially outdated customs which are perceived as ‘Jewish Law.’ I hope the audience hears that we can value our Jewishness and still make decisions that feel right for ourselves as individuals.” Her piece delves into this sometimes-tricky topic beautifully, authentically, and with a whole lot of heart and humor.
And for the all-important question, What’s your favorite Jewish food in The Cities? Marsha says, “I like the matzo ball soup at Crossroads Delicatessen in Minnetonka.”
Listen to Your Mother Twin Cities is Thursday, May 7th at The Riverview Theatre in Minneapolis. Both Marsha and I would love to see you there! Tickets are on sale now.