“Of course, as we all say, we never want it any other way, but sometimes I want to have a leisurely brunch, I'm not going to lie.”
Breakfast in bed and flowers are what you expect for Mother’s Day. A studio-recorded song all about you, performed by your husband and two sons on the other hand, not so much. But that’s exactly what Jules Sebastian received for Mother’s Day last year.
“It was the cutest thing I've ever heard in my life. It made me cry and laugh,” Jules says.
Sure, she does have an unfair advantage. Jules is after all married to that guy. Not just any romantic, thoughtful guy, but Guy Sebastian, to be precise. First Australian Idol winner and ARIA-award-winning, multi-platinum Australian artist.
Of course, Jules is no stranger to the limelight herself. She was a celebrity stylist for MTV’s Style Me, is the face of the popular Tea With Jules YouTube show, has done numerous presenting and hosting gigs both on television and radio, and most recently released her debut book, Tea & Honesty.
The normal life of Jules Sebastian
What struck me as I read Jules’ book and later, chat with her over Zoom (you can watch the full interview below), was just how down-to-earth and relatable she comes across. How normal she is. She’s open, she’s friendly, she’s like a really warm person I’ve just met. And I think “normal” is what Jules truly believes she is, which adds a certain endearing and approachable quality to her.
“What's it like to be married to anyone?” Jules responds with a smile when I ask what it’s like to be married to a pop star. “Guy is extraordinarily talented, has a fantastic career, is very successful and is a household name in this country, but he's still a man. He's still a person and we still experience all the same things that any married couple would experience, and parents as well, raising children. We’re just people living our lives in our house.
“He's a great husband, a great dad. He's really fun. He’s very present in the moment, a good communicator. He's a really good person so for that I am very grateful and amongst all of that he can sing very well, so that’s a bonus.”
This down-to-earth attitude is further exemplified in how they explain Guy’s career to their children—unavoidable since they see their own father on television, or as Jules points out, other kids start asking about their father.
“We just explain to them that most people's parents go to work. It’s just that Mummy’s and Daddy’s jobs are on the TV, the radio or on the stage, but it’s just the same as everybody else. Their daddy goes to work, your daddy goes to work. There's no difference. The only difference is that he does it publicly.”
As for the children, as Jules admits, “They’re just like any other children. I'm the mum on the sidelines of the soccer team, of the AFL, the cricket, taking my kids to karate lessons, doing school pickups and drop offs, and making lunches. Think about your own life as a mum and that's exactly what I'm doing at the same time over here.”
The surrender of Jules Sebastian
It was fun chatting with Jules as a mum, reflecting on the similar quirks all children seem to possess and how full our brains, hearts and lives become after we’ve had children.
“Of course, as we all say, we never want it any other way, but sometimes I want to have a leisurely brunch, I'm not going to lie,” Jules laughs.
When I ask about the most important thing she has learned from being a mother, Jules’ answer, “The art of patience”, is perhaps not a surprising one. She has a very similar story to most mums—believing we’re never going to be that mum when we’re pregnant (iPads at the table when eating out; brightly coloured plastic toys at home; kids wearing stained clothes) “because we are judgey and we haven't done it before”.
And yet, how she goes on to deal with the ensuing chaos and surprise of motherhood is one I think we should all try to emulate.
“I think you are tested to your nth degree when you have a baby, because all of a sudden you have something that doesn't do what you want it to do, when you want to do it, and that's infuriating,” Jules says.
For Jules, it’s about surrendering all your expectations and to “give it to God: My patience is going to be tested, everything is not going to go the way I need it to go and so I'm going to find a way to be OK with it. Over the years, I've learned to just take a breath and let life unfold and do what it has to do.”
Whether you’re Christian or not, this concept of surrender is refreshing and appealing. For Christians, surrendering doesn’t necessarily mean giving up. Instead, it’s simply handing the problem over to a Higher Power with the faith and trust that all will turn out for the better. In a world plagued by a pandemic and rising levels of anxiety, the idea of letting go holds strong appeal.
“We have these babies and we think we own them and that they’re ours,” says Jules. “Of course they’re our responsibility . . . [but] I like to see it as they're not ours. We have brought them into the world, but we don't own them. One day in their life, we're going to have to let them go.
“You have to love them with an open hand and that is very difficult because we love them with a closed hand—they’re my baby, they’re mine, they've been given to me and I want to take care of them—but that's how I see my faith and being brought up in church my whole life, is that you're given these gifts to raise and to guide and to take care of, but God has given these people to us and at some point we're going to have to give them over. We have to give them over to this big bad world, to this life and hope that the teachings we’ve instilled into them guide them through the rest of their life in a good way.”
The career of Jules Sebastian
In recent years, Jules has not only learned to surrender the raising of her children, but her career as well. In Tea & Honesty, she writes about making the decision to cut back on work to spend time with her kids. I asked her if she regretted her decision and her reply was a resolute no.
She admits fearing that she’d committed career suicide with her decision, but “I had to come to a place of surrender . . . if I never worked as a stylist again . . . I have to be OK with the decision that I'm going to put my family first, because I know in my heart of hearts that I will never regret that decision. I will never ever regret hanging out with my kids.”
What happened after that decision surprised her. “My phone started to ring, but it was for the right opportunities that did fit into my life and I could figure it out easier than I ever had . . . I was accepting the things that I could get done without feeling overwhelmed. It was amazing to see the flow of that unfold and that's how it is now. I take on only what I can fit in around the kids. That's expanded a bit more now that they’re both in school but I put that down to truly surrendering and truly being OK with it.”
And one of the things she’s recently taken on is the release of her book, Tea & Honesty. It’s hard to define Tea & Honesty. Jules bears her all in it, but also weaves in stories from guests on her show. It is part memoir, part personal development, part interview all at the same time. It’s a book dealing with the big topics of identity, grief, guilt and purpose—subjects almost every one of us struggle with.
As the book suggests, its content includes large doses of honesty, with Jules revealing a lot about herself and what she’s gone through, including the death of her brother and her struggles with guilt.
“I didn't really expect myself to do that,” she confesses. But during the book planning process, Jules realised she wanted to write a book that “means something, and means something to me”.
The whole premise of the book is based around the same philosophy of her online show, Tea with Jules, which started six years ago. Back then, what Jules wanted to do was to have honest conversations with what “I think were inspiring and interesting people . . . and finding out why people do things and how they do things”.
“With this book, it was the same thing,” she says. “I'm going to share some of my stories because I've learnt a lot of things in my life and I've been through a lot of things and it might help somebody learn a lesson or it might be interesting to somebody else.”
What Jules really hopes is for readers to see themselves in the pages of the book, to be able to relate to her experiences, to discover they’re not alone and ultimately to help someone along the way. Through what I’ve read in the book and my chat with her, I think she’s succeeded.
As we finish our conversation, I ask Jules about Mother’s Day. That’s when she tells me about her gift of a studio-recorded song. And while she believes it’s quite possible “the boys [won’t] be able to top what they did last year”, what Jules really want for Mother’s Day is to be left alone in the morning so she can sleep in.
Just like every one of us.
Tea & Honesty by Jules Sebastian is out now.
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