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Being a mom shatters your sense of self

Being a mom shatters your sense of self
Being a mom shatters your sense of self

Words by
Feminin Botanik

Merrill Melideo is a woman who cares. About the world, her family and the community of women we call ‘mothers’.

Honest and sweet, this interview gives us all permission to enjoy motherhood for what it is, to celebrate that we are all different, to be vulnerable and to seek community.

On identity

When my son was first born, I was completely overwhelmed by him. My whole life was dedicated to him and for a while I wasn’t anything other than a mom. As he got older I kept trying to regain a sense of who I was before, but ultimately I just could never get back to that.

It took me a long time to realize that I will never be that woman again.

Being a mom shatters your sense of self, and you have to rebuild your identity. It’s messy and challenging and it feels like two steps forward, one step back. But slowly I’m coming into myself and really looking inward to see who I am and who I want to be as a mom.
On breastfeeding

I truly have loved our breastfeeding journey. I was very adamant about wanting to breastfeed, and my husband was so supportive. I loved nursing in public, I was always looking around daring people to say something, but I only ever got approving smiles and kind words.

I loved the connection of looking into Leo’s eyes and feeling that sweet baby body snuggled against me.

Then around six months old we found out that he wasn’t gaining much weight and we started supplementing with formula. At first I was devastated…not because I was opposed to formula, but I felt like I had failed somehow. Like my body was supposed to do this one thing and I couldn’t even produce enough milk to keep my baby healthy!?

It was a serious blow to the image I had built for myself as this earth mama goddess, but I quickly got over that when my son started to gain weight and was overall happier and healthier.

I think I was also worried that it would mean our breastfeeding journey would be over, which made me sad. But here we are, my son is now 3 1/2 and still has his morning latte ;)

I never expected to nurse this long, but it still feels right for us and that’s what is most important. I love that we still have that connection and for me it is the sweetest start to my day.
On truth

In my fourth trimester I had a very rough time transitioning into motherhood. All throughout my pregnancy I felt extremely prepared for birth as if that was the end goal. Then once that was over and the realities of having a newborn settled in I was in for the biggest shock of my life.

I absolutely loved my baby, but I hated being a mom. I hated the back to back feedings, the overwhelming sense of responsibility, the constant anxiety that ate away at me and I wondered if I was doing this right.

I felt so ashamed because I thought I was a bad mom for feeling any of this.

Why was everyone around me (and by that I mean everyone on my social media) saying things like “I never knew I could be this happy?” when I was feeling anything but.

My son was 8 months old when I decided to go to a mom support group where, for the first time ever, I heard other moms saying the exact same thing that I was. It was such an unbelievable relief to know that I wasn’t alone in all of this.

This group of women gave me the community that I was so lacking, and the reassurance that I absolutely was a good mom.

Looking back on that time is like looking at a completely different person, I was just so lost.

Now I made it a point to check in with my friends that are new moms and make sure they know that the feelings of inadequacy are totally normal!

Motherhood is hard enough, we need to build each other up and be there for one another when we feel like we’re falling.

On health

I’ve been a vegetarian for 11 years and we are raising Leo with those ideals. I try to eat healthy, move my body (we have a lot of dance parties), and treat myself to massages every so often. But more importantly I’m telling myself positive affirmations aloud to set an example of self love and appreciation, as well as filling my days with people who just radiate light and positivity.

On balance
I think the word balance is almost a joke in the world of parenthood. Sometimes the scales tip so far one way and in an instant they swing back the other way.

My husband and I both work from home so while it is so incredible that we’ve both been there to see all of Leo’s milestones, it also is pretty hard to get much done.

We rely on each other to have quality one on one time with Leo so that we can take care of our own needs, and we are very fortunate to live close to my in-laws so we are able to drop him off for a day or two.

It’s a constant struggle for me to ask for help before I actually get burnt out, so that’s one thing I’m trying to get better at this year.

Final words
Parenthood looks different for everyone.

Take all of the advice given with a smile, then choose whether or not to follow it. There is no “one size fits all” here, what works for one person might not work for someone else.

Maybe your friend got her baby to sleep in his own room by 5 weeks old, but if you want to co-sleep then freaking do it. Maybe your friend doesn’t let her kids have any screen time, but if you want to let your child play on the iPad for a bit so that you can regain your sanity then DO IT.

Have grace with yourself. We don’t need to strive for perfection, we just need our kids to know that they are loved.

This shit is hard. So hard. But if we are more supportive of new moms and open to hearing their struggles and share in their victories. Then I think we will only get better and better.

You got this, mamas. I’m in awe of every single one of you.

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