This Mama Story comes from Mei-Ling Malone.
I met Mei through her partner, Richard, when we all lived, worked and studied in Los Angeles. Mei is an educator — the kind of educator that shifts the energy when she walks into a room, and has shifted your mind by the time she walks out.
Part of what makes Mei such an effective change-maker is that she will lay it all out on the table. Whether she is giving a lecture about the school-to-prison-pipeline, or writing about her experience as a new mom, she shares the good, the bad, and the ugly. And then? Then she does what only true educators know how to do best. Provide the motivation to create lasting change.
I hope you enjoy Mei’s lessons learned and share them with the world. Join me in the Facebook group to share your own perspective!
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Like many new Moms, I was shocked by physical, emotional and mental toll that comes with caring for a newborn around the clock.
On top of this, I approached life like most Americans – I kept myself busy, stressed constantly, dwelled on the past, stayed anxious about the future and was out of touch with what my body and spirit needed to feel well, peaceful and present in the moment.
With that being said, my first few months as a Mom were rather unpleasant.
I felt overwhelmed, panicked and cranky most of the time and paid no attention to self care.
At the bottom line, I was mostly scared– scared of such a major life change and scared to be a Mom.
I had no clue how to trust myself and trust life.
I knew nothing of peace.
Thankfully, I had enough awareness to know that I wanted some kind of positive change.
Also, at this time my partner ever-so compassionately pointed some of my negative patterns.
This helped me to see that I lived in fear and managed this fear by trying to control everything, which is never possible in life and definitely not in motherhood.
This ultimately helped me to confront head on what most of us struggle with but perhaps never realize – loving ourselves.
For the first time ever in my late twenties, as I grew into my new role as a mother, I explicitly decided that I was enough and deserving of love.
This decision to love myself, naturally led to self-compassion and compassion for others.
I was able to significantly heal the wounds of my past and adopted a new compassionate understanding of life and human suffering.
This give me the sense of peace I craved and the centering I needed to finally flow with life, trust life and truly enjoy life.
Learning to love myself led to taking direct action for self-care.
Despite practicing attachment parenting (which involves prolonged breast feeding on demand, bed sharing, baby wearing and little to no separation from baby) I gave myself loving permission to take naps with my son everyday, treated myself to Starbucks guilt-free, deliberately ate healthy and read tons of books on Buddhism.
It also helped that I made friends with other Moms at our local park, where we share in our daily struggles and offer each other validation and comfort.
If I could offer a few words of advice for new Moms, I would emphasize the importance of self-love and self-compassion.
You truly are enough just as are and you are absolutely as miraculous and beautiful as your newborn baby!
I would also stress the importance of trusting in yourself and flowing with motherhood rather than resisting or trying to control it.
Motherhood is so vastly beautiful and amazing.
It is definitely one of the hardest journey I have been on but has the potential to transform us into our most peaceful, loving and compassionate selves; everything the world needs more of and especially our newborn baby.
I look forward to giving birth to my second baby boy, any day now, with a new sense of serenity and love. [editorial note: Mei gave birth to baby Jaxon 14 days after she sent in this post, check out the pic below!]
Wish me luck and I am surely wishing you all the same!
Mei-Ling Malone is mom to Mekhi and Jaxon, and partner to Richard. She received her masters and doctorate degree from UCLA in Urban Education and teaches Education and Criminal Justice courses at Los Angeles Southwest College. Her dissertation, “Over-Incarcerated & Undereducated: The Impact of California’s Prison Proliferation on Los Angeles Urban Schools” examined the role of the prison industry on segregated schools. She is a firm believer in providing education that is accessible, critical, empowering and transformative and believes in the power of the people to work for love, wellness, self-determination and self-liberation.