On this week's episode of our Inspiring Women series, we get to know Melissa from Mommy Talk TV! We're so excited to have Melissa as a guest for the Mother's Day weekend. Not only is she following her dreams of being an on-air TV host, she's also an amazing mother to an adorable little boy who will soon have a younger sibling!
Hi Melissa! We have a lot of readers who would love to get to know you a little better. Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi all, my name is Melissa Marie Neuen and I am super excited to be a part of the Henkaa Inspiring Women Series! Currently I am the working mom of an 18-month old and am expecting my next little bean to arrive in three short months. I can say "short" now because I'm a mom and as any mother will almost definitely attest, time flies right by once you enter parenthood.
It's unbelievable, in fact I'm convinced that's why they only make those little milestone books for kids up to one year old. If we as parents tried to maintain that level of information and tracking on our ever budding blossom past the age of one we would never leave the table. We'd be writing all day, every day!
During the past few years I have enjoyed a vast career in broadcast television which I will fill you in on further along. Thank you for allowing me to be part of this series, working together, inspiring one another and supporting each other as women is the very best gift we can give and ultimately receive. Let's stay conscious of that and make sure we are doing so in each day. We have stood the test of time and learned that we are best united.
How did you get started with Mommy Talk TV? What inspired you to commit your time and energy to making the TV show happen?
Mommy Talk TV was the true recollection of the famous saying "when one door closes another opens." Having transferred into the Barrie area after finishing my program in broadcasting in Ottawa, I was eager to be home and get myself recognized in the broadcast industry. I immediately volunteered at the local Rogers Television station and made my hopes of being an on-air talent known. It wasn't long before an offer presented itself for me to get just what I had been looking for!
I was asked to host a show called "Out and About" which would be a summer series showcasing fun and exciting things to do in the area. I couldn't believe it, not only was I going to get my shot hosting on the air but I would be participating in all these exciting adventures along the way! Was this for real...? It would appear the universe had it's own plans for me. My husband and I had married that same year just a few months earlier and hadn't completely decided to grow our family, but had stopped responsibly avoiding doing just that. As my grandfather in-law so eloquently put it, "if you put your order in, expect delivery!" Expecting we were!
At that point I began to realize that I would have to share the news and eventually resign from my new position that I had worked so hard for. After all, skydiving is frowned upon for the expectant mother! Once I broke the news, I headed home for my pity party which lasted a day and a bit. I think it's important for expecting mothers to know that it's okay to have mixed emotions when expecting your first baby, especially when it directly impacts your goals and career that you had been working so hard for.
Here's a lesson in why it's also important to NOT get too wrapped up in these worries. Women work and procreate everyday, I was no different. Being pregnant didn't make me any less valuable in the broadcast world, that was my own diagnosis that I had projected onto myself. I needed to shake that train of thought - fast. So back to the drawing board I went, determined to figure out a way to make my pregnancy relevant to my job.
With the help of a friend who I had met at work, Mommy Talk with Melissa was born! As a new mother, I had a million questions about motherhood and caring for my baby. Just when I felt that I had answered a handful of them, they were surmounted with even more follow-up questions and ' what if' scenarios.
Who's to say that I was alone? What if I could develop a show that gave viewers some of the real and even the raw on life prenatally? I could answer common questions that most women encountered during their journey through pregnancy. What should I wear and how do I wear it well while pregnant? What should I eat? Where should I go for support? Is this a normal amount of weight to gain?
By the time I got back into the station to pitch the show, I swear I had enough questions to last me 10 seasons! Needless to say, it was a success and we were off shooting our very first season of Mommy Talk with Melissa.
You recently had your first baby and hopped back into your work schedule almost immediately after! What was that experience like? What advice do you have for other moms facing the same situation?
Parenthood is a club, one you can't be in until you are. Parents will understand that statement enormously. When expecting, you have all these ideas about the parent you'll be and the decisions you'll make and why. For me, that was a wash. Although it was an amazing experience, I cannot say it was one I could have prepared myself for.
Even with all the knowledge I felt I had gained. My emotions were not my own, my body wasn't either, but the love I felt for this little sack of potatoes was unnerving and humbling to say the least. Nothing prepares you for that. We spent our first 8 months lost in our bubble of new baby and mommy time. Figuring out how to stay alive and even thrive some days. Every day was a battle, and it was a battle I didn't win every time.
When approached to take on a new show at the local cable station, I initially was hit with a series of mixed feelings beginning with thrilling excitement! I could go back to the life I had before and be me again. But wait...do I want that? Should I want that? I remember telling myself that I'm a mom now and thinking how awful I was to be excited to return to work. Before my maternity leave was even up! The constant stream of thoughts and doubts was really humbling and forced me to put things in perspective.
You will almost definitely never second guess yourself as much as you do when you're a mother. Rest assured you are not alone. When my son was 10 months old I returned as a full-time host to a local lifestyle show that would be filmed live 5 days a week. It was the next big opportunity for my career and I knew I'd regret it if I left it on the table. I enrolled my son into daycare after careful ( and very judgmental) consideration and headed off to my first day of work.
If I'm being honest, I spent the first few days completely absorbed in my tasks of being a full-time solo host. I was excited to get back into my groove and find my rhythm in the broadcast industry again. On my third day back on the job, I realized that I didn't miss my son and had a good long cry over the guilt I felt for not missing him. Again, I had cast my own negative thoughts onto myself. I had to sit down and write out the facts: was my son happy? Healthy? Thriving? He was. He adored daycare and was even doing new things I knew I hadn't taught him. It was incredible.
Was I happy? I was glowing! I felt alive and attached again to society. I felt like a better mother because I was contributing to my household and my own well-being as I began to get back into a fitness routine. I was very happy and grew happier with each day as time went on. I was finally okay with being happy.
I finally realized that the rules of what to do and how to be a parent were mine to make. Mine alone. I didn't require any approval on those decisions. I know I'm a good mother and do my best to be just that every single day. I consider the effects my decisions have on my family and decide which ones are best based on those facts. That's what matters in our house.
Who are some inspiring women in your life that you have looked up to for guidance and direction? How have they influenced you along your journey?
The list of women that inspire me might surprise you. They're not celebrities or royalty. They are you and I.
They are my next door neighbor who is outside teaching her young son to help her bring in the recycling bins once the garbage trucks have gone by. They are the single mom I met at our weekly Monkeynastics class who starts work early on Wednesdays so she can rush home early and get her little girl to class on time. It would be so much easier for her to get home and just collapse on the couch after a long day.
One of the ladies I mentioned above is my best friend, I swear she was put on my path to constantly remind me that I'm doing it! I'm achieving my dreams and being a good mom, even if it doesn't feel like it sometimes. The sun can't shine everyday, but on the days that it does you have to remind yourself that you too are doing it.
As women, we always want things done well (which is why we usually end up doing them ourselves!). Just remember that if you need validation that you're doing things right, just look at your little one(s). Aren't they amazing? You did that on top of everything else you've achieved, and you will continue to do just that. You're amazing!