April 18, 2024

Motherhood & Water: series two with Melissah from Saint Majella

Written by Amelia

While contemplating the connections between motherhood, bathing and community, we knew we had to speak with Melissah Angelucci and Celeste Magree Buckley. Melissah and Celeste are the local mums behind Saint Majella — a multimedia project that was birthed on the beach as the best friends took a stroll and dreamed of a community that supports, empowers and connects people on the radical journey of motherhood. When they couldn’t find such a community, they built one.

Today, Saint Majella involves a podcast, children’s playgroup named ‘Culture Cubs’, comprehensive ‘Motherhood Rolodex’ of vital parenting resources, and annual community events such as ‘The Mother of All Fairs’.

The aim is to empower and connect mothers - and parents - through progressive conversation centred on making supported motherhood and standard.

As we dive into Motherhood, take time to explore our curated list of gifts this Mother's Day

In series two, we speak with Melissah to hear about the ways in which water weaves through her mothering journey.

Melissah Angelucci met her partner Nick and relocated from Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula eight years ago, trading a career in the technology world for a “more purposeful existence” centred on family and community.

Melissah grew up with a nonna (grandmother) who communicated her love through cooking and modelled a tireless devotion to her family. As a mother to five-year-old Sadie and two-year-old Rocco, Melissah works to unpack the idea of motherhood as sacrifice while summoning her nonna's strength and resilience.

How would you spend a day at Peninsula Hot Springs, sans kids? What would you pack? How does it feel to have uninterrupted bathing time?

Without a doubt, I'd pack a great friend to come with me: someone to chat with about all manner of things, from relationship qualms to baby balms. I'm one of those people that will start a conversation with the person next to me otherwise. In between yarns I'd take little reading breaks — if it were me today I'd bring Lessons in Chemistry to read in the hammocks in the sun. DREAMY. The kind of experience you cannot get with kids around. Also on the packing list is face oil and moisturiser for some after-bathing body love.

'Being a busy mum means that I often neglect those typical "self-care" rituals — even though I know how important they are.'

You are a fan of taking mini holidays away from your kids — what does this do for you?

I don't get to take mini breaks often enough but when I do, I feel myself coming back, like a long lost mate. I start to remember the things I like to think about, do, see. On a recent trip away to Bali I returned to my inner 20-something for six days. This meant reckless abandon. A quick Google search confirmed that this is the right term to use: "unrestrained surrender to impulse”.

Imagine not having to think about someone else's needs before my own? Imagine not having to worry about what to take to the beach (a Santa sack filled with lunches, snacks, sunscreens, changes of clothing and so on) and simply walking barefoot with a towel. Imagine deciding what to do on a whim? The fun/silly Melissah came back and hey, I kinda liked her. So, basically this is a permission slip to anyone reading: if you start to feel a little lost, a little less like yourself, book that weekend away as soon as you can.

How would you spend a day at Peninsula Hot Springs, kids in tow? Which activities are your little ones drawn to? Do you find it's a good way to connect as a family?

Our kids often suggest a Hot Springs run. In fact, Rocco said it the other day. We have definitely used it as a pre-bedtime drill because the minerals make for a great night's sleep for all. Also, there are days where the whole family feels scattered and maybe even a little disconnected. Nick and I like to take the kids for a soak, wandering from pool to pool, walking over the pebbles in the Reflexology Walk.

'We have found it a beautiful way to entertain the kids while connecting to each other. The Family Pool is the best for this. You can sit there with your lover and watch the kids splash about safely. Oh, and giving each other 10 minutes’ sauna time while your partner takes the kids is a nice little bonus'

What is bath time like at your house? What does it represent?

Bath time can mean a few things in my household. The kids playing together, giggles echoing through the house. Nick or I mopping up after dinner, a little sliver of solitude before the bed-time routine. Bath time can also mean cuddles and connection if I bathe with one of them. There is something inherently soothing about water that makes it the perfect pre-bed plan.

You have experienced a water birth. Tell us a little of what that ritual was like and the role water played in the experience.

I could talk all day about the healing power of water. I had Rocco at home in a birth pool, he was born into water like the water child he now is. I spent hours of my labour avoiding the pool because I wanted to make sure I used the water when I really needed it, knowing its powers could only go so far. I'll never forget that feeling of buoyancy: what seemed like my whale-sized mama belly floating in a warm pool, that pool forming the stage with my family and birth supports surrounding me. Warm water reduced the pressure felt on my body and really helped me to relax, which is so pivotal for encouraging the body to open to birth.

My daughter Sadie, who was almost three years old at the time, got to take part and helped to soothe her mummy by pouring water down my back. It was so beautiful to have her there to play the role of a doula like that. It makes so much sense to me to birth in water, as it mimics the amniotic fluid in a womb. What a gentle entry the water created for my little boy. I highly recommend it.

You grew up in the heart of Melbourne — how was water part of your childhood? And what role does water play now in your mothering journey?

Hot days meant sessions at Prahran pool with my bestie, circa 1995. Water slides, being chased by bees, diving practice, holding our breath for as long as possible, duck-diving for objects, buying Sunny Boys and Calippos. It may not have been a tranquil beach setting, but boy did we have fun. My mum used to take me to the pool when I was young. It was a time where she could laze in the sun and I was equally happy running around with my mates.

'Those hot days felt so long and actually, given the chance to reflect on this, I can see what a similar situation I now offer my own kids.'

I often take the kids to the beach/pool/springs so that I can experience that reciprocity offered by being beside the water: mum gets to chat with mates, kids play with one another. It is such a win. Plus the house doesn't get messy and the kids expend such energy that bed-time is a smooth transition.

Saint Majella aim to empower and connect mothers (and parents) through progressive conversation centered on making a supported motherhood the standard. Discover more about Saint Majella via their website or socials.

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