Mel Foster’s voice is probably more familiar than her name to Gladstone, Queensland locals where she’s on air at 4CC radio station in the mornings announcing promotions, events and competitions.
A mum to three kids – 14-year-old twins Natera and Kayla and eight-year-old son Tanna, Mel says you can’t prepare for becoming a single mum at 18. But as her mum taught her, it’s what you learn from experience that counts.
“For me, motherhood is an adventure,” Mel says. “From the first time I held my twins, I felt an overwhelming feeling of happiness and love. It’s incredible to watch them grow and become amazing humans, each with their own personalities.”
Stronger than you know
“You don’t realise how resilient you are and how strong your kids are because you’re both the nurturer and the person disciplining. There are always going to be ups downs and mood swings. That’s all part of the fun.”
“I feel like you know as a human being what’s right and wrong to teach your children, to form them into the people you want them to be. I made the decision to have those children. I didn’t want to fail them.”
Mel’s own mum was a massive support, helping with the pick-ups and giving her much-needed time out.
Confidence, on and off the catwalk
Mel’s kids have recently been exploring modelling. “My kids are just gorgeous!” she enthuses.
“Modelling has been a great way to build their self-confidence. Now they love the catwalk and doing photography for magazines or campaigns on buses.”
Mel says modeling has benefited her children in more ways than one.
“It’s opened a lot of opportunities – particularly for my older girls. Instead of feeling awkward or becoming reserved – like many teenagers do – now they have a job and they are more confident in themselves. That’s what I wanted – rather than the body issues that kids go through.”
“It’s not fair that society tells you what you should or shouldn’t look like.”
“For example, my son is not very tall – and with his dark skin and an afro he can get picked on. But he is exactly like me – nothing holds him back! His confidence was fizzling out when he started school but these days he’s on the big screen, on websites and on the sides of buses and he’s super confident.”
And now, a new role and a blended family
With her partner Steve, two more boys have come into Mel’s life – Steve’s sons, aged 16 and eight. “We were friends at first and took things slowly. Now I’m finding my way, adjusting to being a blended family.”
On Mother’s Day Mel will be continuing the yearly tradition.
“I pretend to be asleep while the kids go and make me breakfast…burnt toast, Weet-Bix or whatever they’ve decided.
“I just wait to hear the smoke alarm go off!”
“The kids will jump in bed – they do their own little thing (for me) – That’s what I love – each with their own personalities and how they show their appreciation so differently. I might get a grasshopper, a card, or a charm - I love all of it!”
About: 'Those who mum' series
Meet 40 women across Australia, from as far as Cairns in North Queensland to Baldivis in Western Australia, as part of a 40-part editorial and portrait series that celebrates the faces of women and mums from across Australia.