I listened to my mother

Christy King on the front steps of the Sydney Opera House. "Not Darth Vader's mining helmet," she clarifies. 

Christy King on the front steps of the Sydney Opera House. "Not Darth Vader's mining helmet," she clarifies. 

Christy King one of the coolest people I know. And I'm not just saying that because she was the very first person to buy tickets to Charleston's Listen To Your Mother show, even though she lives in NYC. I'm saying it because I have years and years of evidence. I've known her for more than a decade—probably 15 years—but I stopped counting at ten. I'm also saying it because she felt inspired to share her story with me, and with you.

I Listened To My Mother

A couple of my friends are participating in a new kind of performance event to celebrate mothers. It’s called Listen to Your Mother and it has spread like a flood of imagination across our nation of newly trained TED speakers.

I love this trend. I love that people now know how to share personal stories to a group face-to-face in a compelling way about whatever it is that they think the world should hear.

I really wanted to participate with my friends, but I didn’t have children and I couldn’t think of anything dramatic to say that wrapped up my childhood in an Important Life Lesson.

My own upbringing was as solid and uneventful as a childhood could be. My parents had their share of life’s ups and downs, but they stayed married and managed to enjoy doing so. They were young and poor at first, but that wasn’t so unusual back then, so my brother and I simply enjoyed an uneventful and nearly idyllic childhood. This was fantastic as a stable personal history, but for a born storyteller like me, sooooo boring!

One of the earliest memories about my childhood I heard my Mom tell is of watching her bright, clever, verbal child totally ignore the teacher charged with determining my kindergarten readiness. My mother sweated and swore under her breath as she watched my stubborn determination to make this weird lady asking dumb questions go away and leave me to play with a whole room full of unexplored toy wonders. I don’t remember this at all, but stubbornness and (seemingly) clever deception? Yeah, sounds like me.

Later, I would come home from school and tell her fantastic stories of giant fist fights, dramatic sickness, kids escaping classrooms, food fights, teachers running, and parents smashing cars. I was a half-pint Queen of Drama. I love my Mother more than anything else in the world for how she reacted to this full-of-it girl. She would listen enraptured, exclaim in all the right places, and then smile when I was done. She would say, “Wow! That was a great story! Now, tell me, did anything really happen at school today?” When I would mumble about a piece of homework and a spelling test, she would commiserate with me on the unjustness of subjecting children to such a boring world.

As an adult, I look back on my parents’ flustered worry as I grew into an adolescent who was so clearly smart and capable, and yet showed not the slightest interest in school. No teacher grabbed my attention. No classroom experience inspired me to want to strive for success. As soon as I could drive, I was constantly skipping school. When asked where I was, shockingly, I didn’t invent an exciting story. I was down at the local University standing in the back of the auditoriums listening to free, brown bag lunch lectures, or sneaking into work early. Any school requirement that forced me to sit still was an abject lesson in torture, and my parents knew it. Unfortunately, they were too young and too shy to know what to do about it, and simply hoped like crazy I lived through learning things the hard way.

There was one thing I remember. One most important thing that my Mother said to me many times when my impulsive predilections left me peeking over the edge of doom (again).

My Mother, confused and scared for me, but with all the stubbornness I was born to inherit would repeat, “You are a very smart, creative girl. I know you are. I don’t know how or where you fit in, but you will get somewhere, somehow, I just know it.”

She was right, but only because she kept saying it did I believe it.

Christy King is a professional nerd. The CTO and Co-Founder of a mobile video company called VidLasso, and the VP of Technology for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. But in her heart, Christy is a waitress at a diner in Hollywood, waiting for her big break in screenwriting. She also writes a blog, Stuck in an Airport, because she travels a lot and has experience with that. 

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