Donloyn LeDuff Gadson, 41, North Charleston

Gadson is the mother of eight children, including two sets of twins, ranging from 20 years old to 4 years old. "You can't deal with 8-year-old boys like you do with a 20-year-old, and you have to make sure you don't lose yourself and your own voice while you're nurturing. (The show) was an opportunity to get up there and say what I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it."

If only walls could talk

If walls could talk, they would tell you stories of love, laughter and lessons; if walls could talk, they would tell you the beautifully turbulent love story of a young, perfectly imperfect couple who grew stronger with each test and trial, never allowing the harsh winds of life to topple them; if walls could talk, they would share the joy felt as each new addition was carried over the threshold.

... They would tell you stories of family movie nights and tickle fights. They would tell you of afternoons filled with never-ending knock-knock jokes, and how I would say, "That's it! No more knock-knock jokes," only to have one of you launch right into one. Because of all of the times I sent you to "face the wall," those walls know the exact descriptions of each of your faces to include the specific placement of each tiny freckle and mole. Because of timeout, they'll never forget you.

If walls could talk, they would tell you the exact number of "I love you's" spoken, birthday candles blown out, pancake dinners made and laundry loads washed, dried and stored away ...

Angela Avery, 46, Berkeley County

Avery is the mother of three: two boys, 20 and 18, and one girl, 13. She says she read her poem because, "The topic of watching your children grown up and seeing all the processes that have happened along the way, I thought it was kind of important to share that."


Wrapped in cotton

I knew how to hold you.

Securely pinned

you were my own.

... Days, weeks, and years

went by and

I let your wrapping unwind

further and further out,

away from what was close,

away from what you knew

away from me

and surety.


standing there

just at the edge

I could catch you

if you fell

but you didn't fall.

Radia Heyward, 34, West Ashley

Heyward is the mother of two boys, 15 and 14, and an 8-year-old girl. She wanted to tell her story after she lost some of her vocal chords to thyroid cancer. "I figured I needed this as a way of therapy, even if I didn't make it, it gave me an opportunity to take a step forward in my healing."

My time, motherhood at its best

On Sept. 22, 1979 at 2:30 a.m., it was time for Louise Lemon Baxter to become a mother, through a long labor; she delivered me, Radia LuPhelia Baxter. I became one of her greatest loves and she became my first love.

Fast forward to Dec. 31, 2013. That day became known to my family, friends, and the world that my mommy had entered into a cocoon experience. This time her cocoon's name is brain cancer. Wow, it was now my turn to help my first love become what I am ... a survivor and a beautiful butterfly. Now it all makes sense! The person who gave me life and took care of me ... needed me.

It is my time, my season to help my mama to open the doors of her cocoon and become a butterfly and to help her understand that this experience will add greatness to her life journey that God has created. Motherhood at its best.

Rhonda Devine, 46, Goose Creek

Devine is the mother of two daughters, 23 and 17, and the stepmother of a 15-year-old boy. Her essay is about adjusting to being the mother of a boy. Her girlfriend signed her up to audition after hearing her "crazy stories" about her children. "When you have teenagers, you have lots of stories to tell," she says.

Raising boys

Little boys are just gross. You see, they really do make boys out of different things than girls. It's not sugar and spice and everything nice. It's slugs and snails and things that would frighten the CDC. The first time that kid took his shoes off, I took one look and "Ewww."

... This boy walks by and punches me in the shoulder. It almost makes me want to punch him right back. But something tells me not to, because oddly enough, I've found it to be an expression of his affection.

One late summer afternoon, I was sitting in a chair, and he came over, sat on the arm and leaned on me. I knew if I said something or acknowledged this fragile miracle in any way ... he would jump up, punch me and say "Ewwwwwwwww."

Sean Scapellato, 43, West Ashley

Sean Scapellato has a 16-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. His mother flew in from Arizona to watch him perform and he said this is a good thing because, "I was a very bad kid, which makes for really funny stories now. My piece is an apology to my mother."

Dear mom

I'm really sorry you sucked up my peanut butter sandwich in the vacuum cleaner. I admit I did slide it a little closer to the hose when you weren't looking, and then up it went. I still wonder why you were vacuuming the kitchen table during lunch, but then again you were always super-neat like that.

... And, yes, punching Bobby Slivka wasn't worth the extra handwriting practice, and you're right: Putting mashed potatoes in Leslie Blue's chair didn't exactly qualify as acceptable flirting. And, yes, snapping Tracy Miller's bra was unnecessary, but in fairness, so was the bra at the time.

Despite my prankish ways, you persevered with your "difficult first child."

... Within you, I know there is a force that lives, rises up out of that Pennsylvania steeliness in your core. Makes you strong and soft at the same time, paradoxical and enigmatic, yet understandable in an unknowable way, like a planet at the horizon. You gave me life, and you gave me a life worth living, and in my thanks, I still remain that little boy ... with a million questions, and million reasons why you were the one I loved more than all the chocolate milk on the planet.