Real Chicago moms share their lessons about motherhood

Make time for you

When Andrew Desjardins became a member of the Chicago Blackhawks last year, he and his wife, Mandy, were new parents in a city where they knew no one. But Mandy embraced Chicago and the transition to motherhood with Ames, now 1.

“When you get through that first six weeks, you realize this is your new life. At first, you are really thrown off, you’re not sure what to expect, then you really start embracing it and start appreciating all the little moments.”

Her biggest lesson: Moms need to find time for themselves as well as couple time. “When you give yourself those breaks, you really appreciate the moments when you are back with your baby,” she says.

Asked how she would feel about Ames becoming a hockey player like dad, she laughs. “I think being a hockey mom and a hockey wife would be two different things. I’m used to my husband getting knocked around; I think it would be different when it’s your son. …I’ll just go with the flow and take it as it comes, I guess.”

Don’t compare babies

Lauren Hubert Smoke, best known as kids’ entertainer Miss Lauren, has a ton of experience with babies, so she was surprised to find herself second-guessing everything when Nico was born.

“As soon as I got home from the hospital, I started worrying. I know that moms worry. I was terrified of something happening to him. I can’t ever watch Grey’s Anatomy ever again,” says Smoke, who also battled breast cancer while pregnant with Nico.

Smoke says she loves everything about being a mom, especially the smiling, laughing and watching him learn new things.

Her biggest lesson: “The one thing I’m struggling with still, I found it really hard not to compare my baby to other people’s babies. … Every baby’s different and as far as milestones go, don’t compare them. They do things on their own time.”

About motherhood: “It’s not what I expected, it’s better. Every day gets better and better.”

Trust your own instincts

Having confidence as a parent doesn’t always just happen the exact moment your baby makes an appearance. Alexzandra Higgins, the creator of MommyCon, understands that from her own parenting, as well as the thousands of other moms she’s met along the way.

But one thing she did learn was that holding her babies made both her and babies the happiest. So she invested in a good carrier. “From that moment, I just felt confident as a parent and that if I just held them close, everything was going to be OK.”

Higgins created MommyCon, a nationwide effort with a focus on natural parenting, to bring parents together to support and help each other build their confidence.

Her biggest lesson: “Follow your instincts. Wear those babies, just feel love and support and that will get you through it. It just goes by so quickly. … Savor those first few months and nurture yourself while nurturing your baby.”

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