What am I doing here? Why does she keep looking at me that way? Do I have something on my face? Egg? Literally? I have to get up there soon. I really hope there's nothing in my teeth.
"You're up in five."
"OK, thanks." I pull out the pocket mirror from my bag. Nope, nothing on my face and my teeth are clear. Whew. That's a relief. She's still looking at me. Damn. What is wrong with her, anyway? I should say something. I should ask her. What the hell is your problem? What's up with you, anyway? Why do you keep looking at me that way? But I'm not brave enough. I'm too nervous about what I'm about to do.
I swear I see her move. Did she just move? I'm not really sure. Who is she, anyway? What's she doing back here? Is she trying to freak me out? Bah, whatever. I'll be fine, right?
I hear my mother's voice. You're amazing, she whispered. You're incredible, powerful and strong. You can do anything you set out to do. I love you.
I wipe the tears from my eyes before they pool onto my shirt.
Great. My nose is running now. I'm always blotchy after I cry. I'm sure there's no hiding this. Fan-friggin-tastic. I use my inner sleeve to clear the snot away. I'm such a mom.
I'm a mom. Yes. That's right. Me. A mom. That's who I am. So what do I think I'm doing here, anyway? I'm just a mom, right? Branching out like this, it's ridiculous. I must be losing my mind.
Motherhood. Important. The essence of who I am. Who I have become. But nothing else? Impossible.
I imagine what my children would think, seeing me up there. I need to be like my daughter. Afraid of nothing. She's not even four, but thinks the world is her stage. It should be, right? It IS her stage. And this is mine.
The last thing she said to me this morning, before I left the house. "Mommy?"
"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
A smile. A laugh. A great pause. "Why?" I ask.
"To get to the other side!"
"Oh!!!" I shout. Hilarious. Adorable. This is the tenth time I've heard this joke since yesterday. Ten? Eleven? Twelve? I've lost count. She loves it. It's her favorite. Brave. Fearless. Afraid of nothing. Not rejection. Not reaction. Nothing. This is how I must be moving forward.
I start off with my right foot. Walking towards the stage. Someone told me once that would be lucky. Always step with your right foot first? Or was it the left? Aw, shit. Who knows? I'm walking now, either way.
I step foot onto the stage. Wow. It's crazy packed out there. Really packed. What the hell was I thinking? Thinking I could do this? Seriously? I have to be kidding myself. I wonder if anyone can get me a glass of wine? Maybe I'll ask. Maybe I'll ask the entire crowd. Yeah, an ice breaker. That could work, right?
Mom, I whisper softly, Mom, I know you're out there. Please pray for me.
I hear my name. Softly. My mother's voice. I turn around, but she's gone.