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Real Chicago moms, real life

Meg Piercy, 31

Founder of MegMade, a furniture design company

Spouse: Joe Piercy

Jamie Martin

MissJamie2

Credit: Thomas Kubik of TK Photography

Komal Patel

Komal

Credit: Thomas Kubik of TK Photography

Children: Wells, 3, and Brooks, 8 months

Neighborhood: Uptown

Must-have baby items: Ergobaby 360, mamaRoo, squeeze pack foods

Favorite Chicago spots with kids: The beach, Kid’s Island, Dairy Queen

Why is it so important that 10 percent of your proceeds support charities?

I think it was instilled in me growing up. We’re Christians, and we just really believe we have been given so much and we should be giving back to those who don’t have as much. We really thrive and take joy in helping other people. …And we want our kids to be raised with that, too. I feel like in today’s culture it’s all about ourselves. It’s comparing ourselves to people on Facebook and Instagram and keeping up with the Joneses. And I just feel like there’s such beauty in not looking at yourself and just [thinking] “What can I do to help others?”

Did you go crazy decorating your boys’ rooms?

Noooo. I wish I could say yes and that they’re perfect, but they’re so not. I started this company when I painted my son’s changing table, and it just became so fun. We would paint them and sell them and somehow it turned into this. …But the poor second child, his room has not been decorated at all. … It’s kind of like a chef who cooks a lot all day for people and then they get home and never cook for their family.

What makes a good changing table?

One where you can open all the drawers with one hand. That’s key for me, and that the height suits the height of the parent. Also that it will transition into toddlerhood. I don’t believe in spending money on a piece that will only suit you for a couple years. The big wide drawers just don’t work because you have to use both hands and by the time they’re five months, they’re rolling. I have little wiggleworms.

How would you describe yourself as a mom?

I would say that I am a parent who loves to have fun within reason. I try not to take myself too seriously. And my goal is to not raise the smartest kids in the entire world but to raise kids who are hard-working and well-adjusted and who love others. When I take myself too seriously, my kids act up and they’re just more easily angered or frustrated because I’m more easily angered or frustrated trying to be who I’m not. So I just try to listen to my own instincts. Usually when I do that, rather than [listening to] all the books or blogs I’m reading, that’s when things run the best in my house. There’s no book that fits your kids perfectly. You have to just kind of try your best and know that they’ll probably need counseling too when they’re older (laughs).

Jamie Martin, 35

Popular children’s entertainer Miss Jamie

Spouse: Erik Martin

Children: Taylor, 3, and Scarlet, 9 months

Neighborhood: Horner Park West

Must-have baby items: Ergobaby carrier, double jogging stroller (not for jogging!)

Favorite Chicago spots with kids: Play cafes (Hint: ask for memberships for birthdays), Chicago Public Libraries, Chicago Park District, Mariano’s

What kind of mom are you?

I would call it my own personal style. Lazy/follow your instincts/don’t push them before they’re ready/do what feels right/don’t read too many books/just go with your instincts. As a mom, I practice things like extended breastfeeding and bed-sharing, but it’s not because I have some kind of moral stance on it, it’s literally what has worked for me so far. I’m totally willing to change it if it works out better some other way. I’m really easygoing as a mom; I don’t stress out too much. …It’s such a short stage in your life, just do what feels right for you and don’t listen to what anyone else says.

What are your tricks for handling such a busy schedule?

Luckily, my actual job is invigorating, rewarding, energizing and refreshing. If I’m ever in doubt of “What the heck am I doing?” it reminds me why. Because these kids love it, the moms love it. I know what it means to a mom to have a break and to be having fun with their kid.

…Also I started recently putting in date nights with my husband. You have to do that. As hard as it is to carve out the time and to pay for childcare to do it because it’s a pain, you have to spend time together. I’m not even talking about sex necessarily, but that time you spend talking and being with your husband is so valuable for how it rejuvenates you. You guys are on the same team.

…I don’t have very many other tricks. I like coffee too much; I try not to like wine too much. Try to treat yourself … but sometimes treating yourself is being in the car alone.

Why is music so important for kids?

Music is vital to a child’s development. …It’s very, very powerful because of its ability to compel people. There are not that many things in this world that can do that. …And you can teach kids stuff. When it rhymes, it’s the law. When you’re a new mom, you’re singing like, “It’s time to change the diapers, the diapers, the diapers.” You’re singing throughout your day as a mom to keep yourself from going batshit crazy. Every mom sings to their child, no matter if they’re a good singer or a bad singer. I feel like it’s a really special connection.

Everybody remembers the songs that their mother sang them before bed. … [Taylor] probably thinks that I’m the creator of E-I-E-I-O.

Komal Patel, 36

Co-owner of Embeya, an Asian restaurant in the West Loop

Spouse: Attila Gyulai

Children: Paloma, 10 months; Baby girl due in October

Neighborhood: Ukrainian Village

Must-have new mom items: Foam roller and back support belt

Favorite Chicago spots with kids: Chicago Park District parks, Jam in Logan Square, Spacca Napoli in Ravenswood, Logan Square and Lincoln Park farmers markets

How has your life changed since becoming a mom?

Well, I don’t get my nails done every week (laughs). I think one of the biggest changes for me is that I’m not as much of a workaholic as I used to be. …I have found ways to streamline what I do and to look at what is important to me and to focus on that. …I think if I had not had the baby, I would still be going at 60 miles an hour. …I don’t want to just be the kind of mom that’s there and is present in my daughter’s life. I want to be the kind of person that’s really engaged with what is happening with her and helping her to develop in a much more passionate and lively way. And I think that takes energy and thought and it takes a lot of learning on my end.

What is your favorite thing to do with your daughter?

My favorite thing would be to dance in the restaurant. She loves music and every time she hears music, she starts to move up and down. …In the afternoon, I usually blare [music] between the lunch and the dinner service. …Dancing with Paloma in this open space and just seeing her so full of joy with the wind blowing in her hair as I’m twirling her around in my arms, it’s one of my favorite things.

As a restauranteur, any advice for moms and dads for dining out with baby?

Get out with your child and have nice dinners when the baby is really young. I think after the baby reaches the point where they can only be in their chair for so long, it sort of limits the places that you can go. …There are certain ages where it becomes rather difficult to have a child in a restaurant, simply because they do not have the attention span to sit there for two hours. So do it before that time happens. I would say probably before six months. …A lot of restaurants are very understanding, especially if you go in the earlier side of the evening. Don’t let having the child limit your possibilities.

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