One of the more awesome things about living in Van is that on my one night out a year I always have something cool to do. It just so happens that this week was annual date night and the Vancouver Fringe Festival was running.
Celebrating independent theater and offering multiple and diverse shows on Granville Island (the mecca of all things succulent and awesome), The Fringe is a win. We definitely had a wicked-fun night out.
Best part of the date was the show we caught. Glowing: a Reproduction Production was a one woman show of fabulosity; an honest account of arriving at motherhood, both literally and emotionally. I (obviously) fell head over heels with the writer-performer and just had to ask for a second date.
Brave, Bold, and Blunt: an interview with Mary-Jo Dionne
Blunt Mom: Kudos for straight up truth telling. People like it frank. Well, at BluntMoms we do. So, yah, thanks for giving us more (and letting me kiss and tell).
In your monologue you don’t pretend to have always been maternal, or to have enjoyed baby making and the 9 months that followed suit. What are the benefits of being blunt (besides lower therapy bills)?
MJD: I am super big on the idea of authenticity. And it always drove me crazy when people would learn my age, find out I was childless, and then say that awful sound effect: “Tick-tock”. As if some bomb was going to detonate because I’d yet to have a baby. I am a huge believer that every person’s life is their own personal journey and so long as you are being true to where you want to be, it’s not so much about being blunt as it is about being authentic.
MJD: I always remembered what that boyfriend said, because I just didn’t see it that way. I never was one of those people to rub my belly and fantasize what it would feel like to be pregnant. Ever. The catalyst for “Glowing” was on the night that I had just had my foot surgery, was gagging profusely, had peed my pants, and as I rushed to the bathroom on crutches, peed in the toilet, and simultaneously barfed in the bath-tub with my foot elevated above my head, it hit me: Who says all pregnant women glow?
Blunt Mom: I used to think so, until I saw my own pregnant carcass in the mirror… alas. I interpreted your monologue as a tribute to self knowledge, a celebration of dedication (to yourself, your marriage, your goals), and an ode to resilience. Am I wrong? (Don’t hold back. I’ve been wrong before).
MJD: I’d never thought about it like that. I thought of it as more a tribute to the fact that, no matter how Type A you are – and I am! – at the end of the day, there are certain miracles (the big ones!) that manifest only when they are ready to, based on a timeline we have no real control over. But that said, I like your interpretation too, and I appreciate it, because, as an audience member, I’d want you to extract your own themes from it. So let’s go with what you said!
Blunt Mom: Awesome, I dig it when people listen to me- a rare event! Anyways, I gotta say it again, thank you for writing and performing your amazing account of conception, pregnancy, delivery and arrival-to-mom with an audience of strangers. Have you found that tellin’ it like it is has brought you fortune in relationships ?
MJD: I think that is the beauty of aging. Learning to tell the truth. And that means to others as well as to yourself. I finally – very recently – feel like I tell the truth in pretty much most corners of my life and in the areas I don’t, I’m working on. But yes, overall, my relationships are all pretty much the real deal. And when I’m in one that isn’t, it plagues me.
Blunt Mom: I was sorry to hear of your challenges with adoption and that you had to resort to “humping” your husband to make a baby, only to realize you were humping for naught. Infertility is a cruel and twisted condition… This said, you described believing that things come to you when you are ready. Not to be harsh, but is this a belief system you actually endorse or is it more about making peace with the all the muck?
MJD: I actually really do believe this. I feel like on the three years of our journey, I was driving a car, circling around, looking to pick up a friend who was just never out on the street when I was driving by. Finally, when I drove around that one last time, there she was… She hopped into my car, and it was like: Right, I was just too early for you.
Blunt Mom: So cool. Also cool was when you quoted your friend who described labour as like having a scary clown hiding in your house; a brilliant description. I’m not scared of clowns but I am terrified of raising girls and I appreciated how you owned up to this too. How’s it been?
MJD: So far, so magnificent. She’s just such a great pal. I tell her every night that she is a good person, with a big brain, and a big heart. I tell her I value her and I respect her and I admire her and I am inspired by her. And that even though I love her, I hope that she loves herself. If she does, my most sincere hope is the decisions she makes for herself will a-okay in the future. Knock on any — and all — wood.
Blunt Mom: When you were having your Cancer operation, you felt your baby girl kick for the first time. You thought that maybe baby was giving you a wee spirit nudge, a “we’re in this together”. People say that the stress of raising kids can ruin a marriage but, like that moment with your babe in utero, adversity can also strengthen bonds. How’s it been for you and the Chad like figure since baby bonanza?
MJD: It’s funny, our fertility nurse told us that she’d seen a lot of couples fold under the pressure. We had dealt with foiled adoption attempts, fertility issues, on-going house renovations, and cancer in three years. And in that time, we absolutely went through times of sadness and separateness. That said, the whole thing now is part of our story as best friends and partners. He’s the best person I know, that Chad-like figure.
Blunt Mom: Nice. I love love. Hey, having had a difficult (to say the least) pregnancy, you chose to skip the “violent exit” associated with a v-jay birth and give yourself the “gift” of a planned C-Section. Did you get any flack for this choice? If so, do you give a flying wazoo?
MJD: I certainly had people voice their concerns. But at that stage, while I appreciated their concerns, there was no way I could be swayed. I had been topped-up on precarious situations and I needed to go into the delivery knowing things were going to go a certain way. And they did.
Blunt Mom: You described so beautifully the scene when you realized “ and then there were two”. I realize that’s a statement and not a question but, yah, what a visual. That is all.
MJD: Awwww, thanks. It really was that way. Seeing those two beds in the operating room that morning and realizing that a person was actually going to make its earthly debut in mere moments. It overwhelmed me.
Blunt Mom: The play closes with us meeting the new-mom you, you who has just seen your (new) life flash before your eyes. Despite the shit storm you endured to get there, it was optimism you felt then. I need to know, since the hormones have worn off, do you still feel hopeful for all that is to come?
So yummy! An authentic voice, things working out, and all that can be. Good times by my definition.
Hey, speaking of a great time, Glowing could be in your future! There are two more shows this weekend, not to be missed if you live in this neighborhood. Do it, really. Blunt moms have more fun.