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MEMBER CORNER: Lizette Melis

Lizette Melis

with Lizette Melis, MA., MEd, CLC, IMH-E® HealthySteps Specialist, North Country HealthCare, Flagstaff, AZ

Editor’s Note: Recently, ZERO TO THREE member Lizette Melis shared a moving post on HealthySteps (HS) Connect about the participants in a group for new moms and babies that she facilitates with fellow HS Specialist Ta Nee’ Townsend. I asked if she would reflect further on her experience.

During this time of siloed living, a limited number of support options are available to moms of young children, especially those who might be struggling with postpartum adjustment and depression. I have been involved in co-facilitating A Mother’s Journey, a weekly postpartum adjustment group, since 2014. It has been my privilege to support women in the throes of life changes, hormonal havoc, and emotional vulnerability.

Last week, my co-facilitator, Ta Nee’, and I witnessed the true gift of connection and support among women who have never met face to face but have come to count on the weekly virtual venue as a place to share, ask, and learn from one another. For Ta Nee’, the most beautiful part of that group meeting was the diversity of moms with children of different ages, and that moms of toddlers became mentors to the first-time moms of babies.
During check-in, the conversation turned to COVID when one participant shared her heart-wrenching decision to deny a family member, who is not vaccinated and doesn’t follow CDC recommendations, from visiting. Her story was met with compassion and empathy by others—and one step further. Every single participant in the group shared their own parallel story: setting boundaries and limits with those close and sometimes, closest, to them.

Almost by design, they took turns applauding each other’s convictions and courage to say “no” and protect their families. A birthday party was cancelled and difficult conversations were had. Yet, everyone spoke with clarity about prioritizing the welfare of their nuclear families, without compromise. The gravity of our common predicament has emboldened these women to be champions and lionesses to their cubs and pride. The energy in the group took a life of its own and the conversation lasted until we ran out of time.

We recognize now that the families we work with may be physically isolated in some way, but there are times when freedom happens inside minds and hearts, with a little help from our friends. No better outcome could result when a small group of moms met online to connect and support one another.

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