PC: So, tell us a little bit about yourself!
MM: Hi! My name is Mary McLeod. I am a mama to three children, earthside and one in heaven. My husband JP and I have been married for six and a half years, and he is truly my best friend! I've always had a passion for helping others feel equipped and empowered to make their dreams come to life, and the role of mama and wife is where I see those dreams come to life the most! I have lived most of my life in Florida, California, and Uganda, but now we reside in the beautiful (but landlocked) state of Tennessee.
PC: How were you introduced to Parker Clay, and what is your favorite bag to carry when you are with your kids?
MM: Our family began in Uganda, Africa, in 2015 as we moved overseas to pursue adoption. Living in Uganda opened my eyes to all of the incredible artisan work that exists in East Africa! I remember hearing about the fantastic things Parker Clay is doing in Ethiopia and loving how the craftsmanship of their products really reflects the heart and soul of the makers behind each item.
My favorite bag is the Merkato – so perfect for all of the snacks and toys that I'm currently carrying around for my littles!
PC: How has the journey of adoption and motherhood evolved for you over the years?
MM: I was adopted the day I was born, and having started our family through adoption is such a bittersweet experience. As beautiful as adoption is, it always begins with the heartbreak of some sort. My 9-year-old and I often find ourselves in conversation, expressing how confusing and hard it is to be adopted, but also how incredibly grateful we are. I used to be so angry that adoption was part of my own story, but now I believe it has given me unique insight and wisdom for our oldest daughter to feel understood.
Motherhood has definitely become a journey of grace. Once we moved to the states in 2019 as a family of four, I learned to embrace that every day might be a little different...and that's okay! With the pandemic, moving, and welcoming our third child to the world in November of 2020, I definitely have had to lean onto grace. For myself, for my husband, for my children, and really, the world.
PC: You have 3 little ones and a business to run – how do you stay on top of it all?!
MM: Again, grace upon grace upon grace. In this season with a five-month-old, every day is so different! I am learning the art of working within five-minute increments and getting so much done during naptime. Also, my husband is a rockstar! He's holding baby boy while I answer these questions. Grace, teamwork, and flexibility can go such a long way!
PC: What has been your greatest accomplishment personally and professionally? How do you pause to celebrate those moments?
MM: My greatest accomplishment personally is definitely my family. Having experienced a lot of abandonment in my past, knowing I have people in my life that I get to experience all the highs and lows with is the most significant gift! Professionally, I think it would be continuing to say yes to those wild dreams! I tend to say yes and jump in before knowing the full scope of work, and somehow that allows me to not talk myself out of life-changing opportunities. Having the support of my husband is the most incredible gift as well… he is my biggest cheerleader and supports me in everything I dream up!
PC: What are you looking forward to most this year?
MM: This year, we're heading back to Uganda as a family for the first time since 2019. We expected to go back so much sooner, but unfortunately, 2020 held us back from doing so. It will be so healing and beautiful for our daughters to see their birth country, our loved ones to meet the new baby boy, and also to go back to our second home...the place that made us family!
PC: What advice do you have for a woman who is about to become a mother for the first time?
MM: My advice for a first-time mama is to accept all of the help that is offered to you! That advice was given to me, and I found it really hard to implement, but I know that I LOVE helping those around me...and I am sure you do too! Remember that, and let others pay it back.
Whether it's a meal, cleaning your home, holding your baby so you can nap or take a shower...accept and receive it all! You have a village around you that wants to help, and if no one is offering...don’t be afraid to ask.
PC: This past year has been a strange time in our world, to say the least - how are you balancing it all?
MM: I wish I could say that I have been balancing it all, but that wouldn’t be true. Waking up every day to heartbreaking news happening in our world as well as seeing some sort of divide in society has been heavy and hard! I am grateful to have my husband and my best friend to talk through it all with. I don’t know how I could survive it all without them.
I also love the quote from Fred Rogers; “look for the helpers.” Looking for the good and doing anything I can to be the good and bring light into the world gives me a sense of hope and purpose!Shop @wanderingwithmary's favorite bag, The Merkato Signature Zip Tote, for tossing in everything for your littles!