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The SHEWORD - Episode 7 | WOMEN AND PARENTING

The SHEWORD - Episode 7 | WOMEN AND PARENTING

In today’s episode of the SHE Word, we’re tackling the topic of women and parenting. For this important conversation, Trudy Kerry is joined by Tamara Webb, Denise Mercieca, and Melissa Gatt. 

 

Today’s conversation is a special one – all three women on the podcast come from different backgrounds and perspectives but they all have one thing in common…they are all mothers. Tamara Webb is a businesswoman, social media influencer and a loving mother to her daughter Pixie Rose. Denise Mercieca is a performer and singer and also a mum of a young girl aged six. Melissa Gatt is behind the Instagram page, Island Mamma, a social media influencer and a mother of three children, two of which are twins.  

Trudy was determined to ask the most brutal questions that non-parents always want to ask parents! However, first, she asked each of these women to get into their parenthood journey.  

‘I always wanted to be a mum’, says Tamara. ‘My husband and I have been together for 14 years and as soon as we got married, I told him that I wanted to have children. However, it took us four years. I had a problem with my hormones, and I needed fertility treatment, and it was a tough journey for me. Today, I have a 2-year-old and she’s my world. There were also some very challenging moments; I would be lying if I said I have everything put together but it’s a blessing’.  

Denise fell pregnant at 19 years old when she was at university studying dance full-time. ‘I wanted to travel and do art around the world. I left Uni but I feel that I would have left the course anyway, even if I didn’t fall pregnant because I wasn’t liking the course. After I had my daughter, I went into Biology, and I went into a Diploma in nursing. My mum is my saviour; she keeps her while I study. My journey as an artist has also exploded after Eurovision’.  

‘I came to Malta around nine years ago with my husband’, says Melissa. ‘We were married for around three years when we wanted to settle down and take the next step. I had Savannah in 2017. It took us a while to decide that we wanted other children because Savannah was not the easiest child. We didn’t sleep and we really struggled. I fell pregnant again – I went for a first scan and the doctor said it was twins. At first, I was completely overwhelmed. I don’t have any family in Malta so that was hard too. Fast forward, they are now two years old, and I can’t imagine my life without the twins’. 

Trudy asks all three mothers about the biggest challenge that they have experienced so far.  

‘I thought I was prepared for it’, says Tamara. ‘I always had this motherly instinct but when I had mine, it was a completely different scenario. When I had Pixie, it was during Covid, so no one wanted to hold her, come visit me, etc. I was scared, lonely, and overwhelmed. I wanted to be the best mother that I possibly could, but it was all new to me. I think if I’m pregnant the second time, I would be completely different’.  

Melissa jumps on this point and claims that she also thought that her second pregnancy would be easier but then she was blessed with twins! ‘It was intense! In the second pregnancy, you cannot rest when you want to because you have another child to take care of. I had two in my belly which meant double the fatigue and double the size. It was very tough. However, I did not feel on edge, and I didn’t faff too much with them, so it was easier in that sense. I treated it more relaxed since it was the second time around’. 

Denise’s pregnancy wasn’t planned. ‘There were so many challenges other than the child herself. There was the challenge of me thinking about my future; I went from dancing to nursing because it’s stable and a good job. Then, I had to study and it’s quite a task to study when you have a child. I too felt lonely. I had post-natal depression, and I was depressed during the pregnancy as well. I had a seamless pregnancy, but I felt lonely because I was 20 years old…all my friends were going out on the weekends, and I was alone at home’. 

Trudy asks the hard question… has there ever been a point where you resented being a parent?  

‘I feel guilty saying it, but I had to change everything’, says Denise. ‘I was young and unprepared, and I never had that urge for children anyways. I had a completely different career path in my brain for myself’.   

Even though Melissa planned her family, at times she still feels overwhelmed. ‘I feel it with all three of them, but it doesn’t last very long. It was very overwhelming and sometimes you catch yourself thinking that it would be easier if they are not here but as soon as you think that you go back on your track. You have to keep in mind that you were also your own person with your own life. Every human being is a little bit selfish and when you become a parent you have to be selfless. There have been times when we thought, ‘we don’t want to parent today’. I think that’s very normal’. 

Tamara agrees and thinks that this is a very normal feeling. ‘It’s like when you’re working really hard, and you have a day where you wish you weren’t working that day. There’s a lot of commitment. I love her company though. It’s only been two years so I cannot complain much’. 

Trudy turns to the subject of identity. Do they ever feel like they’ve lost a part of themselves or that people perceive them to be just a mum and not their own person?  

‘I am quite active on social media so people who know me and follow me know that it’s not just about being a mum’, says Tamara. ‘However, in the beginning, it is about just being a mum. You have to feed them and change them every three hours. I did lose myself in the beginning. Deep down I knew that my life changed completely. After six months, babies settle, and you will settle with them. Everyone has a different journey’. 

Melissa says that for her it was a bit different since no one knew about her on social media before becoming a mum. ‘I feel that I am constantly trying to prove who I am when I’m not a mum. I struggle to separate the two. I’m looked at as a mum and a mum only. During that time, I’ve grown and changed and I’m my own person’.  

Denise reveals that she has to remind people that she’s a mother because everyone seems to forget that part of her! ‘I have to constantly prove to people that I’m a mum. My dynamic is different since I’m a single mother. I have to have two lives every time. When I’m in Malta, I’m Denise A and when I’m in Gozo, I’m Denise B. I have two lives and they don’t really collide’.  

Trudy brings up the topic of couples and intimacy after pregnancy and birth.  

Tamara claims that that was one of the most challenging parts for them as a couple. ‘My husband and I are very close; we have been best friends for 13 years. All we knew was attention to each other; we travelled, went on dates, we were very carefree. When we had Pixie, it was a completely different approach. My attention had to go to her, and I had to protect her. It’s intrusive but there are magical moments too. Also, the physical, the attraction and the way that you look at yourself changes’.   

All three women agree that there are things that no one told them about being pregnant/post-pregnancy. One of the examples that they bring up is how much it hurts to pee and being scared to poop! However, they assured all mothers-to-be that this will not last forever!  

Denise claims that what she didn’t expect from having a child is heartbreak. ‘Sometimes, they pop the strangeness questions, and you know they’re innocent, but sometimes they hurt you. For example, she can’t understand that I work from my phone. For her, I’m just ignoring her’. 

Tamara did not expect the guilt that she feels for having said so many unwanted things to her mother. ‘As soon as Pixie was born, I understood the love that my mother had for me, and I felt guilty for the things I said to my mother when I was young. The love that you feel for your child is an overwhelming feeling’.  

Melissa agrees with both ladies here. ‘Guilt is the biggest challenge. I don’t think everyone is like that, but a lot of people feel it. You constantly question yourself if you’re doing it right. I’m constantly feeling guilty about everything!’ 

Trudy asks them how mothers can check that they are doing it right. Who/what is their first touchpoint? They all agree that it is their mum!  

However, Tamara’s mother is very overprotective while she is a bit more lenient. ‘She has a lot going on – my mother takes care of everyone around her, and she still feels the guilt. People talk about milestones all the time – everyone is pressured about this. Thankfully, I learnt that I cannot plan things. It’s also about mindset. I wouldn’t have my own business if I got pregnant immediately. The Balance Queen would not exist’.  

‘My mother is a very key part of my journey’, says Denise. ‘However, she causes half my guilt just because of that. I’m not as present as much as I wish in my daughter’s life. In my eyes, I was raised in the most perfect way possible, and I want to do that to my child. She’s helping me raise her but then there comes more guilt’.   

Melissa admits that she also looks at her mum the same way that Denise does. ‘I feel I can’t live up to her. I want to but it’s difficult because it’s a completely different generation. We have different challenges that they didn’t have back then. I put my mum up on this pedestal’. 

Trudy ends this very interesting podcast by asking all three women to give a word of advice to mums-to-be, new mums or experienced mums. 

Tamara insists that what children need is love and care. ‘I think I give my all to her and to myself. My advice is to find balance. Keep your goals on fire. Your kids will grow up and you will still have your own life to live’. 

‘Trust yourself’, says Denise. ‘You’re a mum and you have your own instinct. Other mums are different, and their children are different to yours. Go ahead with what your heart and mind tell you because you want your best for your own child’. 

Melissa agrees with them, and she also claims that she needs to practice what she preaches. ‘Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You need to look after yourself before the kids. This will reflect what you give to the kids. Don’t feel guilty for that’. 

Thank you so much, ladies, for empowering other women to deal with their experiences and emotions as mums!  

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