Exclusive interview with photographer & Mother Muse
What is the full name and ages of your children?
Zipporah Ray and she’s 13 months old. We have a second little one on the way coming this summer!
Congratulations on your second pregnancy!
What are you most excited about?
I’m really excited to see my little one become a big sister. She is so caring and helpful already I can’t wait to see how she blossoms even more in this new role. I also am so excited to see how the new baby will look and what their sweet little personality will be like.
Does this pregnancy feel any different from your first?
I’ve been a little less sick this time around which has been nice! I also am realizing that the second time around you are so focused on keeping up with your crazy baby that the pregnancy flies by!
Are you going to do a gender reveal or keep it a surprise?
Yes, we have to know the gender haha so we will be doing a little reveal the moment we know!
Both of your babies will be very close in age – was this intentional?
Not entirely, but we are excited. My husband and I both grew up with siblings close to us so we know it’ll be amazing once they are older and always have a best friend to play with!
Could you describe yourself in one sentence?
Lots of fun, tough when necessary, incredibly goofy, a bit too loud at times, always adventuring, and fearless.
What was your childhood like?
I have nothing but amazing memories of my childhood. Lots of days spent at the beach, playing in the sand while my dad surfed, learning how to surf with him, and stopping to get candy on our way home. My family lived a very simple life. We didn’t have a lot but spent every moment outside and exploring. We lived out of our van and travelled all around the US. My parents were nuts doing it with 4 kids but I think that’s what made it so much fun. I was one of the only kids at school who knew what msg was haha my mom raised us well with natural foods and taught us to love our salads more than even the dessert. I want to give zippy the same childhood, traveling and living free. And I want to encourage her like my family did to be fearless and strong no matter what.
What was your life like before motherhood?
Before motherhood my husband slept in until 9am with no little mini to come in and wake us up haha. We traveled and lived on the road. I spent most of the day immersed in my work and going to school. To be honest, not a whole lot has changed since having a baby. I still travel and spend every chance I get at the beach. I don’t sleep in any more, but i get to wake up to cutest little human smiling at me and ready to play. I now find myself less stressed about work and more consumed with Zipporah and her needs. I’m constantly trying to find the balance between work and being a mother, but when in doubt I put my phone away and spend the day with her. I’ve never heard someone say at the end of their life that they wish they would’ve worked more, so I want to make sure I always have my priorities straight.
Describe the word woman in your own words:
Strong, beautiful, brilliant
How did motherhood impact your life as a traveler & explorer?
We find so much more joy in traveling now that we have Zipporah. She’s a new little friend to share these adventures with. It’s so much fun to watch her little face light up as she explores new places and sees some things for the first time ever. Of course traveling with a baby is different than traveling alone, you have to plan more and arrive a little earlier, pack more snacks, and book tickets around her bedtime haha but in the end it’s all worth it. I want her to be a little free spirit growing up exploring.
How do you practice living simple with your family?
We try not to buy Zippy “things” instead we take her outside to explore. She loves the beach and honestly will play longer with one of her spoons digging and picking up shells than she will with any of her toys. We don’t own a tv and really don’t spend too much time inside. Every chance we get we are having fun with Zippy; hiking, grocery shopping, and playing on the sand.
What are your favorite skin and beauty products?
I always shop natural especially for skin/beauty products and try to keep it simple as I have incredibly sensitive skin. Right now I’ve been using Mineral Fusions beauty balm as well as their 3 in 1 color stick. They make my skin feel amazing and are easy to apply which means everything when you’ve got a little one pulling on you every second you spend trying to get ready.
What did you think of motherhood before you became a mother?
I’ve always admired mothers, but I don’t think I truly understood the amount of work and selflessness it takes to be one until this past year and half. Between my pregnancy, labor, and trying to raise a child, I think I’ve told my mom “thank you” a million times. Haha! Motherhood truly takes all of you, but in an amazing way! I never realized how strong I was until Zippy. Of course that cute little baby I’m raising makes motherhood even more rewarding than I could have ever imagined!
Did you struggle with postpartum?
I had no idea how much pain I’d be in after birth. I remember crying in the hospital when they moved me from one room to the next in a wheelchair that was so painful to sit in. I think it’s something people don’t discuss enough, but it definitely was a challenge. I also wanted to focus all my attention on my new baby that I neglected myself for a couple weeks and realized when you don’t take care of yourself and eat right it affects not only you but the baby too. It really is amazing how quickly your body heals after it all though, nursing helped even though it was painful at first and at the end of the day I was ready to do it all over again to get one more little cute human.
What core values do you want to teach your daughter?
I want my daughter to know first and foremost how loved she is. I want her to know she is fearfully and wonderfully made and there is a reason she is here in this world. My desire is that she will always feel confident in the love we have for her and in turn I want her to be able to, from that place of love and security, be a kind person who shows love to the people we share this world with. I want her to find the beauty in every situation, to be bold, not afraid of to fall, strong enough to get back up and try again, to speak up for those who can’t find their voice, and to know when to simply be the friend that listens. I hope that by our own example she will be a person who cares and appreciates our earth and the creatures we share it with. I really just want her to really be a kind, brave, confident, and loving person.
Your daughter just turned one, what was the best part of the first year with her?
The best part for me was when she started interacting with us, reaching for me, and calling me mama.
What inspired your daughter’s name?
Zipporah is a biblical name – turns out she was super awesome and tough. She stood up for herself and took things into her own hands. I thought it’d be an awesome name and fitting for my baby girl to have some major girl power in her name!
You feel most beautiful when?
When I’m sun-kissed and in the sand with the cutest little blonde baby holding my hand.
When you get a quiet moment, what do you like to do the most?
Right now as I’m pregnant I nap the moment I have the chance to. But I also love a good book or continuing to get stronger in my German language lessons!
Where is your favorite place you’ve been so far?
Austria for sure – I would move there in a heartbeat! The people, the surroundings, and the culture are all so beautiful!
Who is your Mother Muse?
My mother muses are all of the wonderful friends I have that I am raising babies alongside of. My best friend from elementary school all the way to today had her daughter the same year I had Zippy. Watching her become such a wonderful mother inspires me to be a better person and mom. Motherhood has led me into new friendships with other new moms and it is so fun to figure out this mom thing with such a supportive and fun group of women and their adorable babies. And of course my own mother. I couldn’t say enough kind things about her. She raised all of us with so much love, encouragement, and kindness. Now as a grandma she’s somehow found a whole new batch of this same affection and is pouring it into Zippy. I am so blessed.
Can you give a quote about Mother Muse?
Mother Muse celebrates the beauty of motherhood and raising children. It is no small task and I love that light is being cast on the beauty and diversity of mothers.
Mother Muse Leah Bradley, Photographer Valerie Denise