If you can listen to music and read at the same time I recommend listening to River, by the cast of Glee, as you read this. It’s beautiful and fitting for this post.

This is the story of how an idea, a hope, a what if?, led to a dream coming true.

It began many months ago with several conversations between my daughter, Arielle, and me about a TV show she discovered called The Glee Project. I watched how her eyes lit up every time she gave me an update on the latest episode. I heard passion in her voice and knew instinctively what she was thinking. One day, I asked the question, “Why didn’t you audition?” Arielle shrugged. “I know… I wish I had.”

Jump ahead several months and I hear… “Guess what? The Glee Project is holding auditions again.” I hesitated. We already had plans to visit the University of Illinois. Arielle had missed school during our September vacation to Barcelona and a part of me wanted to steer her away from acting. Wanting to be an actress was the cause of my missing the whole college experience. Then I remembered her eyes when she talked about The Glee Project and the passion in her voice. Wasn’t it my job to support her in following her heart – her path? Yes. “Let’s go!”

The gleam in her eyes returned. She said “All I want is to get to meet Robert Ulrich and audition for him.” Followed by… “Please don’t tell anyone I’m auditioning. They’ll laugh at me because I’m not really a singer.”

As the days went by I watched as she worried and worried about her audition. I reminded her that I did have a little training in musical theatre and I’d be happy to help her with her song. She refused.

The time of our trip grew closer. I watched as Arielle struggled with her insecurities about singing and her desire to follow through with auditioning for The Glee Project. I marveled at how Arielle had no problem completing  a marathon in her racing wheelchair but singing in front of strangers caused a stress in her I had never seen. Finally, she found the courage and made an audition tape two nights before we left for Tennessee.

I love our trips together. I play the role of geeky, technologically and conversationally inept, mom. I never realized how little I knew until I stated traveling with my teenage daughter. Arielle inherited her father’s bubbly out-going personality and energy. People are drawn to her and I always marvel at how she knows exactly what to say in all situations. A gift she’s had since she was three. We arrived in Nashville, rented a car, plugged in the GPS and found our way to the hotel.

That evening our discussion of just how early to arrive at the audition sounded something like this. Arielle: “I think we should get there really early.” (She’s used to early morning races.) Me: “Like 9:00am?” (I’m not a morning person.) Arielle: Rolling of eyes. Me: “Okay let’s drive to the audition location and see if anyone’s already waiting in line.” I was desperately hoping no one was there because that would mean a super, super early morning. Which I would have done for her but really… who looks good at 5:00 am let alone sings well? And it was a freezing 50 degrees.

No line... Whew! I later found out that not long after we left some moms showed up with their daughters and waited all night.

Eight am the next morning it was chilly, windy, and it was obvious that rain would soon arrive.Guess who forgot the umbrella? Arielle. We parked and tried making our way up-hill to join the line. I never laughed so hard so early in the morning. The wind was relentless and the hill steep. Luckily there were people handing out free energy drinks and cupcakes along the way. They loaded me up. I must have looked tired.

Arielle's smiling and ready.

Or is she laughing at me?

The line. Someone said there were over 500 people waiting to audition. Not sure. I didn't count.

We stood outside for three hours. Those who wanted to audition had to be eighteen.   There were mostly college students around us… without their moms. This type of situation can be very stressful for a mom and daughter. Especially if the mom is an introvert and socially lacking and the daughter is about to go sing for strangers. I tried to keep a low profile and not say anything embarrassing. I walked the tightrope of being supportive without being intrusive. This was her peer group not mine. Luckily a very kind young woman, J. and two kind young men J. and B. welcomed her into their group despite the ancient forty year-old standing next to her.

The rain came and J. let us share her umbrella. A representative from Oxygen made his way down the line and asked if anyone wanted to sing.The group broke out into song and that’s when I felt bad for the casting directors. The talent was amazing. How could they choose only a few to move-on?

At eleven-o-clock we made it inside and that’s when I was politely told to say good-bye. No moms allowed downstairs. I wished Arielle luck and found a cozy bench in the back corner of the room.

This is where I waited... and worried... and hoped...

To be continued…

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