When I began brainstorming the ladies I wanted to include in my Marvelous Mama series, I had one important criteria (besides the fact that I had to deem each a marvelous mama!): I wanted to know each lady — and their little or littles — in person. I have gleaned so much over the years from reading interviews with those I don’t know personally, but for this series, where I was hoping to get advice about raising kids, it seemed to make sense to actually have MET those kids and to see how the advice played out before taking it!
However, I did make a few exceptions, and today’s mama is one of them. I was already planning to ask Julia Wade to participate, even though I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her two boys, but was blown away when, unprovoked, three of my other mamas suggested that she would be a perfect person to interview! Done and done. Julia’s warm, generous, and genuine nature clearly makes an impression on those around her (me included!), and it’s perfectly matched by the simple and extraordinary moments she creates with her family. I’m particularly impressed with all the traveling they’ve done together (and, of course, Julia’s beautiful photos of it!). Friends, please say hello to Julia!
Name: Julia Wade
Occupation: mother and wedding photographer
With whom do you live? I live with Jonathan, my sweet husband of 14 years, and my two sons. Quin O’Neal (Q for short) is 5, and Ashton Frederick is 18 months. We also have two cute pups, Maggie and Zoe.
What does a day in the life look like for you? Q is up first at our house, then the dogs, then Ash… then us :) I wish we were morning people, but currently, we’re just not. Mornings are breakfast lovingly made by daddy, morning outings with the boys or preschool for Q, lunch, work in the afternoons while my boys play with daddy, or our sitter.. and then dinner, bed time, work. Repeat. :) Sprinkle in weddings on Saturdays, church on Sundays, shoots and meetings during the week, and you’ve got a very full and rich life.
What do you eat for lunch? Dinner? I feel like our meals fluctuate between completely greasy and indulgent and crazy healthy in a hot minute. It just depends on how busy the day gets. I do try to make a fresh batch of almond milk for the family once or twice a week and get fresh greens, fruits and veggies into the boys every day. And then we’ll religiously eat at our favorite Mexican joint once a week together. Meals are definitely a work in process at our house.
A book you’ve read more than once: I just finished The Alchemist for the fourth time late this fall. The story is so layered and speaks to me differently every time I read it.
Favorite book(s) to read with or to your kids: Reading to our boys is one of our favorite pastimes. We read to both of them every day… no compromises. Q’s (current) favorite books: Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Young (A.A. Milne); Locomotive; A Sick Day for Amos McGee, And Then It’s Spring, Sebastian and the Balloon, If You Want to See a Whale (all Erin or Philip Stead); Wild About Books; See Inside Your Body, See Inside Space, and Very First Reading books (Usborne.. great stuff!); The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty; Anything Dr. Seuss. Ash’s (current) favorite books: The Eye Book (Dr. Suess); Time for Bed; Roadwork; Five Little Monkeys; The Hungry Caterpillar; Polar Bear, Polar Bear; anything Sandra Boynton… The Going to Bed Book, The Belly Button Book, and Doggies are in the rotation right now.
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones, and when? I just recently discovered Otto Radio (do you know it?) which is an app that combines relevant news and interesting podcasts, and I listen to it while I’m out and about in Raleigh. On longer road trips for work, Serial (obviously), This American Life, TED Radio Hour, Invisibilia, and The Boredom Experiment are on my list.
Words you live by: Happiness is at home, right here and right now.
Why did you decide to have children? I’ve always known I wanted to be a mother, but when we were ready to freely and wholeheartedly give to our children, we knew we were ready to have them.
What was one of the best things you did to prepare for having kids? I stopped reading pregnancy and parenting books. I didn’t want to stress about pregnancy heartburn, a crazy labor, or sleep training unless that was going to be my own experience. And now, five years in, I think it was a good decision, because we’ve just tried to figure things out for us and experience what parenting hands us. I didn’t want to have any preconceived ideas of how parenting was going to go and I just wanted to feel it day by day.
What is something related to kids you were not at all prepared for? Definitely the exhaustion, but I don’t for one minute say that in a negative way. Your children will ask more of you emotionally, spiritually, and physically than you ever thought you could give. But you do it. Every day. And having that strength and depth of compassion for these little people is one of the greatest and most unexpected joys of being a parent.
What is your parenting philosophy? I truly believe that my children were intentionally given to me and because of that, I have everything inside of me to be their mother. I just need to learn what that is by listening to my heart every day and being quiet and brave enough to follow it.
Tell us about a lesson you’ve learned since having kids. Kids are people, too :) Even from the moment they are born… they are people. A five-week-old is absolutely allowed to just have a bad day, a two-year-old is absolutely allowed to be frustrated because he can’t express himself or when he doesn’t get his way. I’ve learned that they can’t fit inside my small box of expectations and that I need to allow them the same compassion and flexibility that I would expect as an adult. Both of my boys certainly know that they can’t get away with much at our house, but they also know that they are loved unconditionally regardless.
What is your favorite part about having children? My children are my truest and purest source of joy. Giving to them, and being a family together, has made me happier than I ever could have thought possible. Quin and Ashton came to us loving unconditionally and learning to see through their eyes is exhilarating.
Best tip for a new parent: Feel the joy right now… feel it in the exhausting nights, endless bouncings to sleep, never ending diaper changes, and constant feedings… feel it in the first time you lay eyes on that beautiful babe… feel it in their intoxicating snuggles, their coos, their smiles, their endless love. That joy never, ever runs out.
Can you see why everyone loves Julia?!
Thank you, friend! So glad we are neighbors!!