April 18, 2024

Motherhood & Water: series one with Celeste from Saint Majella

Written by Grace

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 helpful parenting resources, and annual community events such as ‘The Mother of All Fairs’. The aim, they tell us, “is for mothering to flow and be seen in all its grit, grace and glory”.

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

Celeste Magree Buckley describes herself as mother of Marigold and Iggy; lover of Tim; fervent human and fierce feminist. She finds her world gravitates around art, creativity and the mission of women’s empowerment. Celeste is a midwife, prenatal yoga teacher, and one half of multimedia motherhood project Saint Majella. A Mornington Peninsula local since age eight, Celeste was raised by a single mother who taught her never to take life too seriously, and to always enjoy pleasure and experience.

We caught up with Celeste to hear about the ways in which water weaves through her mothering journey.

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

Melissah and I are regulars to the Bath House sans kids on our famous Wellness Wednesday (a non-negotiable night to ourselves each week for wellness). We usually hit up three to four pools (hot ones) for a decent amount of time, and the sauna and ice plunge are a must. In my bag is a book (likely with a feminist theme) and a notebook for the creative ideas that undoubtedly emerge, plus face oil, moisturiser and a gua sha tool for a post-bathe pamper. A solo bathe feels like spaciousness, which is what we often miss the most in motherhood — the big chunks of time to think, ponder, be. A bathing session gifts me this, plus all the juicy good feels it provides my physical body.

A solo bathe feels like spaciousness, which is what we often miss the most in motherhood — the big chunks of time to think, ponder, be.

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

Spaciousness is deeply important for me to stay in touch with my identity and creative mind. Mini getaways are the expanse of time we often need to catch up properly and feel refreshed and restored so we can continue functioning. On our last trip to the The Calile Hotel, Melissah and I sat in the pool brainstorming and writing out goals all morning, and we got more clarity than we ever can in the domestic sphere. Which only means one thing: more getaways are needed!

How would you spend a day at the 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?

I love the springs with kids in tow. My babies have grown up on the beach and in water and I can see the peace it brings them. The Barrel Baths have always been a favourite for water play, and a close second is making a whirlpool in the Watsu Aquatherapy Pool in the Amphitheatre. As a family we feel super lucky to have the hot springs at our doorstep for those days when we all need to connect and rebirth in the water together.

Skin on skin, floating, not unlike being in the almighty womb.

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

Most nights I join my kiddies in the bath; I am a bath queen and enjoying this activity together often feels like a reset or a place for us to digest our day, chat things through and be together in our most natural state. I have laboured in my bathtub, grown my pregnant belly, breastfed, healed and relaxed. It feels like a special place for all of us.

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

Water was the leading lady in both my labours. While labouring with Mazzy I was soothed by the shower for hours. And with Iggy, the moment I slunk into the pool I was at ease. Water is hands down one of the most powerful pain relievers out there. Using the pool during labour allowed flow-like movement, security and buoyancy. My doula, Tasara, had sprinkled healing herbs and salts into the water that were filled with intention and blessing from my blessingway, so the literal water I entered was filled with love from a lineage of women. Held by the water and my incredible birth team, I can’t imagine doing it any other way now. And it was made all the more special when my mermaid Mazzy joined her brother and I in the deep red water, entering the love bubble that was our birth pool.

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

I have never lived more than two kilometres away from the beach. Almost the entirety of my childhood memories centre on the beach: trips to Wilson’s Prom, making fairy gardens in rock pools, picking up driftwood and sea glass with my dad, bodyboarding at Rye back beach until the sun set, having dinner on the sand with friends and family. I really paused to reflect on this when I was in hospital with my daughter Marigold in the city for four months after her birth. All I could think of was being back in the salty air and getting her and my feet in the sand. Knowing the water was waiting helped get us through. The beach is like a room in my home, equally as important as any other and just as familiar. Most days my mothering either starts or finishes by the sea — nothing can wash off a bad night's sleep or big emotions better than the sea. Knowing this place of calm, rejuvenation and joy is there for us always is a mothering tool that will never leave my belt. Like my own mother, the beach is the best playground I have found.

Speaking of which, a core memory stands out about my mother and the sea. I should mention my mother was a prankster. One day my brother, my mother and I are standing in the sea and my mum turns around and says, “Okay, guys, I have to go back to my mermaid family now. Love you. Bye,” and dives under the water, leaving her hat floating on the surface. We can’t see her. I’m seven or eight years old. The clock starts ticking, no sign of her. My brother, who is only four or five, starts crying. I start to worry. After less than a minute she pops up cackling and chokes out the words “I'm just kidding”, and comes to console us. I'm not sure if I'm more relieved or disappointed that she isn’t, in fact, a mermaid. I now play this prank on my kids, and it's a joke in our family that I have another family under the sea. So my mother, the mermaid, lover of the sea: I will think of you always as I take a nudie swim and enjoy the freedom that it brings, connected always, you, me and the sea.

Read our Series Two journal here with the second half of Saint Majella, Melissah Angelucci.

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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