All of our journeys as mothers are entirely unique and complex. We come from all different backgrounds, which gives every one of us a unique perspective of what a successful mom looks like. What does that look like to us? What is a Mommaslayer exactly? A Mommaslayer is someone who pushes through adversity. Who picks themselves up, dusts their shoulders off, and continues moving forward despite the struggles that life brings. They let their struggles fuel them to become better versions of themselves and they don’t make excuses. They take care of themselves mentally and physically because they know that when they are doing so- they are better mothers as a result. We wanted to shine a spotlight moms who we dub ‘Mommaslayers’ in hopes that you can get inspiration from their stories.
Megan is not only a bilingual Clinical Psychologist- she has been happily married for seven years and has two daughters, ages 6 and 3. She grew up in a small city on the east coast of Canada and is from a big, loud, and loving family. After high school, Megan received her college diploma in Social Science, and then went on to complete her BA and her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Ottawa. She chose this city for many reasons- one of them is that she wanted bilingual training so she would have the tools she needed to work back at home. Megan had her first child during her studies and her second child just four months after her graduation so it is safe to say that her trajectory was atypical, but she wouldn’t change it. Megan now works in her own private practice in her hometown and she is extremely grateful for her work and her clients.
How do you take care of your mental health?
I always start by re-centering on my body’s basic needs, like getting enough sleep, decent food and making sure I move or stretch my body. Working through my thoughts and emotions is so much easier if my body is on track. As for what I do after that… I guess it depends what I am coping with! Practicing mindfulness throughout my daily activities is a huge anxiety-buster for me. I am easily distracted and think of all sorts of things at once, so I work hard on grounding myself in my actions and surroundings. Also, I think making sure I connect with people I care about (instead of isolating myself “until I feel better”) is key for me, as is using my favourite outlets to work through things and raise my spirits (music, writing).
How do you practice self-care with the demands of motherhood being so high?
I wake up earlier in the morning because it is precious, uninterrupted time. There are less screen-related distractions and there’s time for me to work out, plan my day, or just enjoy a steaming hot cuppa coffee. Finding time to be alone has always been important to me.
How do you manage stressful situations and people that stress you out?
When I studied therapy techniques for assertiveness training, I realized I needed to be my own first client! I think it’s important to 1) own your own thoughts and feelings that are partially responsible for the stress or that are contributing to the problem, and deal with them first, then 2) take action toward relationships that are negative, if they remain so after doing step 1… that may just mean communicating more clearly, setting boundaries, or taking a distance…
How do you maintain your self-esteem & confidence?
Self-esteem is a really hard concept to grasp and describe, so I can see why it’s so hard for us all to maintain.
Here’s where I am at so far: I think real self-esteem stems from self-awareness – knowing your values, strengths and weaknesses – and acting in accordance to those. Being who you authentically are and feeling mostly accepted by those you care about builds a positive self-image. On the other hand, if you show who you think people want you to be and get positive attention, you may feel confident, but your self-esteem doesn’t grow… because what’s the value in people only loving your mask?! I think this significantly lowers self-esteem, even when we look like we are “winning”.
How do you keep your marriage strong?
I think our greatest challenge and victory so far is being flexible – understanding that neither of us is nor will ever be the person we initially met, and trying hard to, despite that, grow together over time. We initially connected through a deep and fun friendship, and anytime we get too busy being boring parents and workers, I feel more disconnected so I know that’s important for us to always nurture that bond.
Where does your motivation/drive come from? What is your why?
I think motivation is the momentum you build when you regularly do things you enjoy. Understanding people’s experiences, active listening and providing support are my jam, and I am just naturally drawn to doing that whenever I can. Similar response re: my motivation as a momma… watching my girls slowly discover the world and their own strengths is a gift and pleasure that drives me to be a better mom for them.
Have you ever experienced ‘mom shaming’ or felt judgement from other moms regarding your parenting?’
My kids are… spirited. They make their presence known to all, as well as their favourite colours, ideas, existential questions and various animal-noise imitations. I sometimes feel like their behaviour is too ____(insert adjectives such as “loud”, “passionate”, “bossy”, “inappropriate”____), but aside from ruling out the behaviours that I deem unacceptable, I feel like I have to let them be a little wild and I love them for their true colours. Being a psychologist, I get some surprised eyebrow raises in public every now and then, but I know I am doing my best and so are my kids.
How has your childhood influenced the way you parent and who you are as an adult?
I could write a book on this but let’s just say in terms of myself as a mom: I was raised in a family that is big partly because there’s just lots of cousins and siblings, but also because many family friends are considered legit aunties and uncles, and their children real cousins. I had the blessing of spending so much time in many households, which helped me understand the many different ways of being and living. I also learned that true family, your soul family, is made of people you love and choose, whether you are biologically related to or not.
What is the hardest thing you have ever dealt with and how did you get through it?
I have to mention two, because I cannot chose which was harder, but my mother passed away when I was one month shy of three, and I lost my 17 year old brother when I was 14. Both were tragically lost to us in car accidents, and of course both losses shook my world and taught me lessons I did not want to learn. I cannot say how I “coped” as a toddler, but as a teenager I unfortunately coped by turning most of my feelings in. I did write poetry, turned to my own kind of spirituality and used music as an outlet, but today I wish mini-me had also been able to reach out to others a little more. But as I said before… in every moment, we just do our best with what we have, and my tools at that time were all in my inner world. The experience of course has fueled my understanding of pain, and resilience and fed my already-present interest in the human spirit and suffering.
Losing my mom so early gave me a very un-childlike set of expectations about life. As far back as I can remember, I have assumed that bad things would happen to me every now and then, but that I would get through them. This attitude is a game changer for me. It’s my anxiety pill. It saves me from being angry at the world or a higher power, from regretting the past, and from anticipating every little bump in the road. I expect things to NOT go as planned most of the time, so that I can live the best life possible with whatever I am given. Accepting that this journey of mine is going to be messy, scary, beautiful, and perfect is freeing and I doubt that I would have the same perspective without the losses I experienced.
What are your strengths as a person and as a mom?
I strongly believe every living being is born as kind, as good and as worthy as the others. I know life experiences get in the way of all our behaviours staying all-good, all-kind, but I think we’re all from the same dang tree. Possibly because of this, I take my core worth seriously, but not my daily mistakes and goof-offs (there are so, so many). I think my view of people makes for a mom and psychologist who is able to create a safe and validating space where a kid, friend or client can “feel the feels”, challenge themselves and grow.
Where can you improve as a person and as a mom?
When I have sad days or feel frustration, I still turn first toward turning inward to figure things out, when it would sometimes be better to do what I tell people to do everyday, which is to communicate with and confide in others. Relationships are better when the lane goes two ways, but I am used to being the helper, not the helpee. So, I am working on that still.
What is your advice to a new mom who has high ambitions but doesn’t know where to start?
Do. Not. Compare. Your journey is unique and having expectations that are based on others’ lives is often a great path toward disappointment and an unfulfilling career.
What is your advice to a mom getting ready to re-enter the workforce?
Figure out which of your pre-baby expectations need to be modified, and start practicing. Always made your bed? Maybe not anymore. No dirty dishes in the sink? Weeelll….
Banish “shoulds”. Be flexible in your vision of how it “should go” and the mom and worker you “should be”, and try to be the best of whatever you are right now.
What is your advice to a mom who is stuck in a motivational rut?
Reconnect with the things you love so much you would do them all day, every day. Try to make them a more regular part of your week, or even better, of your career.
What is your advice to a new mom that you wish you had been told or prepared for?
Back to the no comparisons thing, and this: Please don’t be afraid to share your experience with other moms; no, not just the cute Pinterest-craft pictures, I mean share the hard stuff. You are allowed to find this hard. You’re allowed to suck at many things. You’re allowed to complain (yep – even though you are very very lucky and grateful to be fertile, have healthy kids, etc). The more real your expectations are and the more authentic you are, the less you’ll feel like you need to make your story just like every other mom’s story on your facebook feed.
What was the hardest part about becoming a mom?
Tough call between sleep deprivation and sitting exclusively on a donut pillow for two months postpartum.
What was the best part about becoming a mom?
A renewed appreciation for simple, simple beauty in the world as I rediscover our family and life through their little eyes. On a daily basis they break my train of thought (about what’s for dinner, housecleaning, my work) and drag me into a world of snow crystals, magical wishes, impossible questions and obnoxious knock knock jokes. I love them for waking up the me I was before I tried to grow up.