A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

I’m going to listen to my mother, for once.

Ever since that fateful day in 1977 when I crashed my bike and broke my arm in two places after my brother and I followed our mother’s explicit instructions to “GET OUT. TAKE YOUR BIKES. AND DON’T COME BACK UNTIL THE STREET LIGHTS COME ON,” I stopped listening to my mother.

Leslie (left) and friend circa 1977, from my baby book. Notice the staple.

Leslie (left) and friend circa 1977, from my baby book. Notice the staple.

Unfortunately for me, that was the last time she’s ever been wrong.

For instance…

She told me not to pierce my ears. Result? Double pierced on both sides at age 13 by some clueless teenaged Piercing Pagoda trainee at the Monroeville Mall. Long term result? Thirty years later my ear holes are about as lopsided as my knockers.

She told me not to change majors. I went from pre-med, to computer science, to the quintessence of high-paying job opportunities: history, at one of the nation’s top engineering schools (Carnegie Mellon University). That’s a little like going to Naples and ordering Domino’s pizza… only like a vagillion times more expensive.

She told me not to get a tattoo. You guessed it: I got two of them in my twenties and I now hate them both. At least the oh-so-original vine around my left ankle is starting to blend in with my varicose veins, so who’s winning now? *sulk*

Unfortunately, she also told me not to acquire In the Powder Room. “You know, in some ancient cultures, people left their sick and elderly out on the ice to die,” she reasoned, probably between pages of her latest hand-stapled scrapbooking project.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with that one. It sure would be nice if she were wrong again like the good ol’ days of “It’s only drizzling. A little bike ride in the rain never hurt anyone.”

Perhaps my long history of ignoring my mom’s advice is what first attracted me to the possibility of performing in a national show called “Listen to Your Mother.” You know, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?

LTYM Logo-2

I’ve wanted to be a part of this show since I first met its creator, Ann Imig, at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop two years ago. But unfortunately, Atlanta wasn’t one of the participating cities… yet.

Oh, I think you know.

That’s right friends, finally, this show has come to Atlanta.

And one crazy Saturday afternoon two months ago between Bucket Head’s Pinewood Derby and Mini-Me’s school talent show, I tossed my hat in the ring and auditioned. To be honest, I almost didn’t go through with it because I was scared to death of bombing again like I did at my first book signing in New Jersey. But I knew I’d regret it forever if I didn’t at least try.

So I did.

And it was terrifying. My knees were actually knocking together under the table while I read my piece, and then I got ferocious verbal diarrhea and told the co-producers all about how one of Bucket Head’s friends named his Pinewood Derby car, “My Flying Nuts.”

What? The car looked like this…

My Flying Nuts

Get it? The nuts? On top of the car? And you wonder why I love being a Cub Scout leader so much.

Ironically, the head injury I probably sustained in that 1977 bike accident is probably the main reason I have the brain of a seven-year-old boy. But I digress.

Anyhoo, as luck would have it, “My Flying Nuts” and all, I made the cast and am one of fourteen performers who will be reading original pieces about motherhood on stage this coming Saturday night, April 26th, at the Earl Smith Strand Theater in Marietta Georgia at 7:00 p.m.

Listen to Your Mother Atlanta

Tickets are still available for purchase HERE, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit a local charity (JustHeart.org).

The piece I’m reading is one I’ve never published or read aloud before (other than at rehearsals). It’s an original essay titled, “Supermom vs. The Brown Lantern,” (why yes, that IS a poop reference, aren’t you clever!) and it’s a humor piece about several of my most memorable and humiliating motherhood moments.

If you’re not sure what to expect, let me leave you with this: my dear friend Shari Simpson, a cast member and co-director of the New York City LTYM cast performing a piece last year about her mother Rose, a belly dancer. Watch this and see why I love Shari, and the whole “Listen to Your Mother” experience so much.

I hope to see you this Saturday!


  1. Famous SpokesGoat Pricilla

    One of my very first blog friends Margaret from Nanny Goats in Panties is very involved with this show. One of my grandkids, Emily is on her homepage. That makes me a very proud grandnanny. I don’t remember my nanny so I could not maaaaa at this show.

    The publicist would like to point out that you have depressed her to no end because she graduated high school in 1977 and she has just realized how old she is. If she ever mentions her mother it is with mutterings and not nice words. And something about the goddamn hat she had to wear on her wedding day.

  2. Anne @MidlifeBlvd

    I WANT TO GO TO THIS! It’s only a nine-hour drive. Worth it, yeah?

  3. Ann

    So thrilled you’re joining Familia LTYM!!! And OMG that marquis!!! Did you photoshop that, or is it real??

    (and OMG I love Mama Rose)

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you Ann. Me too–long time dream come true! Yes, Miranda took that photo! It is real and it is fabulous.

  4. Bernie Bickers

    Wow, wish I could be there. In the spirit of LTYM, I think you should listen to the surrogate father of our generation, Mike Brady, about public speaking:


    Break a Leg Lester!


  5. Jamie@southmainmuse

    Break a leg next weekend. My daughter is now begging to get her nose pierced. Or snake bites. What 13 year old isn’t these days. Oy vey. Tattoos are only a few months down the road I fear.

  6. Parri (Her Royal Thighness)

    I loved your take on all the times your mom has been right (the tattoo blending in with the varicose veins — priceless!) but parents aren’t ALWAYS right. If you pour your heart and soul into In the Powder Room, anything is possible. I think whatever you envision and pour positive energy into manifests in your life. I really believe that. So I wish you lots of luck with your new journey … and with your performance this weekend. From what I understand, there’s a lot of competition to perform in this amazing event. Go get ’em! And I hope those of us who cannot be there will get to read your piece (or see a video) in the not so distant future. Break a leg!

  7. L. Hewitt

    I could hug this entire post. Yes, I did map quest it out. You never know. Maybe your Mom (I just feel like that should be capitalized) is using some reverse psy. on you now, in re: itpr.
    BTW – You are so lazy! Just think what you could do if you actually worked! #feelinglikeasloththanksiris

  8. Allie

    Congratulations! I auditioned, as well – I was scared to death! I didn’t make it, but I will be there Saturday.

  9. Menopausal Mother

    I am so proud of you and not at all surprised that you made the cast! You have always been one of my top favorite writers, Leslie. I see some wonderful opportunities coming your way in the future. Good luck Saturday night—wish I lived closer so I could hear your story—it sounds funny. I’ll be there with you in spirit, cheering you on! XO

  10. Kari

    I so wish I could come watch you for so many reasons but eating at The Varsity might, MIGHT be one of them.

    You will do amazing, I can’t wait to see it on You Tube this summer.


  11. Tracie

    I’m so glad you threw in the “My Flying Nuts” in your verbal diarrhea! I can’t wait to see the show! I’ll bring the Poise.

  12. WhenCrazyMeetsExhaustion

    The Monroeville Mall!!!!!! Listen, CMU was lucky to have had you, in whatever capacity (history. really?!) 🙂 You’re going to rock at LTYM–break a leg! Or the other arms in two places. Whatever will bring you better stage juju.

  13. Jennifer McCullough

    Congratulations on being chosen for LTYM, Leslie!!! That’s awesome. I was picked to audition in STL, but didn’t make the final cut. Wah, wah! LOL I can’t wait to see you on YouTube!

  14. Roxanne

    I went to LTYM San Francisco last year and was FLOORED by the stories I heard. I can’t wait to go again. Your performance is a bit too far for the drive, but I will look forward to seeing it on YouTube after. 🙂

  15. lisa thomson-The Great Escape...

    Congratulations, Leslie! I’ve been saying that a lot lately and that’s a GOOD thing, right? You hit another one out of the park. I hope you’re able to post a video of your reading here at Bearded Iris, so we can all enjoy it. 🙂 I think your Mom might be wrong on your acquisition of in the Powder Room. Sorry, Mom.

  16. Robbie

    cOnGrAtUlAtIoNs!!!!!!! I wish I could go to the show!

  17. Carrie

    If I was in Atlanta…I’d be there. With signs and a big foghorn or bullhorn or what ever that stupid loud ass thing is that people blow at football games.

    That’d be me.

    I thought about submitting for the one in Austin but thought we’d be out of town that weekend it was happening and then once I missed the submission date found out we wouldn’t be out of town.

    Welcome to my world.

    Next year for sure though.

    Best of luck and I can’t wait to pee when I see you on YouTube or on here or where ever I have to stalk to find your video of it.

    Love, love, love. =)

  18. Bethany Thies

    I am thrilled for you and the only thorn on this rose is that I can’t be there to watch you bring the house down.

  19. Amy

    Congrats and hooray for you! You will be fabulous. I echo the others – I look forward to the YouTube viewing!

  20. julie gardner

    Wasn’t it just wonderful? The whole experience. Knee-knocking and everything.
    I can’t wait to watch your video.

    For the record, your words always seem so effortlessly funny to me.
    (And I KNOW how much work goes into making “funny” appear “effortless.”)

    I so wish I could have been there.

    I also wish I’d been a history major, sometimes.

  21. Linda Roy - elleroy was here

    Can’t wait to see the LTYM videos! I’ll bet you kicked ass. And my apologies to your mother, but I think she’ll be wrong about ITPR. That too, will kick ass. And because you have acquired the stalls, I’m nicknaming you Leslie Stalls. 😉

  22. Angela

    Is your crew coming anywhere close to Iowa?

  23. Kristen

    how did it go???? I keep stalking you for an update. I bet you were fabulous!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Hi Kristen! Thanks for stalking and asking and caring! I know, I really need to write an update…I’ve just been so busy with the launch of the new In the Powder Room. I’ll try to write something this week. (Spoiler alert: it WAS awesome and I loved every minute!) XO

      • Kristen

        so glad to hear it!! No rush on the update! 🙂

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