I hesitated—my mouse hovering over the “purchase now” button for several minutes while I weighed the gains and losses—and remembered how visibly delighted she was when I presented the idea. It was an opportunity to help women who were recovering from unspeakable violence. It was a chance to show support to friends who were volunteering their time and talent for this important project.
It seemed like the perfect mother-daughter outing.
I had heard about The Vagina Monologues and long admired Eve Ensler’s work, but I had never actually heard The Vagina Monologues. When they were first performed in my neighborhood in 1996, I missed them. I was a young mother, busy raising the girl—now a young woman—who would accompany me to this show. She is an avid reader and student of history, well-informed about world events. She has heard about violence against women and children, and she knew about the show through her involvement in theater. She had shared the very same stage with several of the actors who were participating in this benefit performance.
I knew that there was no way she would miss it, and no way for me to protect her from the world outside our neighborhood. She hugged me when I told her that I had purchased two tickets. I was unprepared for how excited she was to go with me.
I was also unprepared for how strange it would be for me—now a middle-aged mother of two teenaged daughters—to experience the monologues with my baby sitting beside me. The monologues alternate between hilariously funny and impossibly sad. They are inspiring and exhilarating, and also nauseating. They are a finely engineered roller coaster.
My daughter— the youngest woman in the room—was naturally sensitive to the mood swings of the monologues. She leaned over to nestle her head against my shoulder or squeeze my hand frequently during the 90 minute performance. Even as I treasured these shared moments of intimacy, I worried that I had made a bad choice as a mother. Perhaps I should have helped her maintain her childhood wonder. Did she need to hear these stories, to be informed of women’s suffering before she was a fully-formed woman herself?
After the show, we met our friends in the lobby and hugged them, and cried and gushed over their moving performances. My daughter turned to me and thanked me earnestly. I understood that the ground beneath our feet had shifted, and I was unprepared for the euphoria and nausea that I experienced as I regained my balance.
It was indeed a perfect mother-daughter outing.